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The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907
A little more than four months after its national debut, the movie “Coal Miner’s Daughter” was showing at Isaac’s Alene Theatre in downtown Whitesburg 40 years ago this week. The movie, based on the career of country music singer Loretta Lynn (above left), starred actress Sissy Spacek (right) as Lynn. Much of the movie was filmed in southwestern Virginia and southeastern Kentucky, including Mayking and Blackey in Letcher County, between March 5, 1979 and May 7, 1979. The film also starred Tommy Lee Jones and rock musician Levon Helm of The Band. In the photo above, Lynn and Spacek joined in a duet during a party to launch the national release of the film in Los Angeles. (AP Photo)

A little more than four months after its national debut, the movie “Coal Miner’s Daughter” was showing at Isaac’s Alene Theatre in downtown Whitesburg 40 years ago this week. The movie, based on the career of country music singer Loretta Lynn (above left), starred actress Sissy Spacek (right) as Lynn. Much of the movie was filmed in southwestern Virginia and southeastern Kentucky, including Mayking and Blackey in Letcher County, between March 5, 1979 and May 7, 1979. The film also starred Tommy Lee Jones and rock musician Levon Helm of The Band. In the photo above, Lynn and Spacek joined in a duet during a party to launch the national release of the film in Los Angeles. (AP Photo)

THURSDAY JULY 25, 1940

President Roosevelt has signed into law, a bill authorizing a $4,610,000,000 expansion of the Navy designed to give the United States two ocean fleets. The White House announced the signing while Roosevelt cruised on the Potomac.

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It was no surprise to most people when Franklin Roosevelt was nominated at Chicago a few days ago, but it was some surprise when Henry Wallace was named to be the candidate for Vice President to run with Mr. Roosevelt.

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The Corner Stone for the new Methodist Church building will be laid with appropriate ceremonies on July 28. The Rev. J. Ralph Wood, Barbourville District Superintendent, will lead in the ceremony, assisted by the Rev. W.H. Poore, Pastor.

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We were somewhat frightened, puzzled and dazzled when one of the strangest looking men we have ever seen came into the Eagle office. His name is Goodlow Grigsby, born and reared in Knott County, and claims to be the knottiest man in the world and we do not doubt it in the least. His body is literally covered with large and small knots numbering 1,000 or more. Mr. Bill Love is promoting this peculiar man in the way of a sideshow along with other freaks of nature.

THURSDAY JULY 27, 1950

Mines of the Consolidated Coal Co. in Jenkins were shut down Tuesday following strikes, which affects several hundred miners in this area. Approximately 700 men are involved in the strike. The strike was at Number 214, but miners at Numbers 204 and 207 in the Jenkins area were forced to quit work as a result of closing of the central preparation plant and tipple at Jenkins.

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Pvt. Wayne E. Parsons, son of Mr. and Mrs. Wade Parsons of Jenkins, is fighting in the Korean War. The 21-year-old Parsons was recently photographed in Korea as he captured a North Korean guerilla.

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Sheriff Hassell Stamper arrested one of his own deputy sheriffs while on a moonshine raid at Linefork last weekend. The Sheriff said Melvin Hall, 28, of Gilley, and two other men, Frank Gilley and Doyle Cornett, were arrested on charges of drunkenness and that a pint of whiskey, four bottles of beer, and a quart of wine were found in their car. They were fined $24.50 each and Hall was discharged as a deputy.

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Approximately 4,000 students enrolled in the Letcher County rural schools, which opened Monday. There are 109 teachers employed in the 64 rural schools.

THURSDAY JULY 28, 1960

Charles H. Back, son of Mrs. Ella Back of Whitesburg, was recently promoted to lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, making him the third colonel in the family. He is assigned to the Military Air Transport Service’s 1503d Air Transport Wing, Tachikawa, Japan. Lt. Col. Back has two brothers who are also officers in the Air Force. Klair, a full colonel, and John V., a lieutenant colonel.

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All of the Elkhorn Coal Co.’s holdings in Letcher County have been leased to an out-of-state firm for strip mining operations. The Elkhorn property has been leased to Greer-Ellison Coal Co. of Virginia and Tennessee. The firm plans to strip, augur and deep mine. Elkhorn holds the mineral rights to all the land around Fleming, Jackhorn and Haymond. The company built all three towns during its mining operations here, which began in 1912 and stopped in 1956.

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A Mountain Eagle editorial says about the strip mining which is going to take place in Letcher County, “We hope the governor of Kentucky can identify the mud which is going to reach his front porch at Frankfort one day as coming from Letcher County. And when he does, we hope he will recall the 1960 legislature, when his efforts forestalled the introduction of a bill which would have prohibited strip mining of coal.”

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State Librarian Margaret Willis told the Whitesburg Rotary Club that the state wants to help develop a first-class library in Letcher County. Increased state appropriations to the library program, coupled with increased local support from the fiscal court and the Letcher County Board of Education, will make such a library possible, especially if Congress enacts pending federal supporting legislation, she said.

THURSDAY JULY 23, 1970

An extensive road-surfacing program providing for improvement to 35 highways in Letcher County has been announced. Gov. Louie Nunn said the projects include an extra 15.4 miles of blacktop on county roads, in addition to the regular County Road Aid Allotment.

. Gov. Louie Nunn, speaking at the Midwestern Governors’ Conference, said programs of the Office of Economic Opportunity, the principal federal anti-poverty agency, lead to isolation and degradation of the poverty stricken by isolating them from the rest of the community. Nunn said the best method of breaking the poverty cycle is more federal money for vocational training.

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The Whitesburg High School Class of 1950 recently held its 10th reunion in the Coffee Shop on Main Street. Approximately 40 members attended. Mrs. Hilda Sexton is the class secretary.

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Dahlias 10 inches in diameter are nothing uncommon to George Ed Gibson of Cumberland River, who has hundreds of them in his garden. Gibson, who grows quantities of vegetables as well as flowers, is now at work on a sweet william bed, which is 125 feet long, six feet wide and, he says, “18 inches high.” A friend at Carcassonne is providing the seeds. Gibson says he likes the kinds of flowers which you can plant once and forget about.

THURSDAY JULY 24, 1980

The Letcher Fiscal Court failed to take any action Friday on renewing the county’s contract with Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP) — a move observers say could, in addition to putting 37 persons out of jobs, cost the county $2,100,000 in cash flow that, without the program, the county otherwise would not have. The county judge pro-tem authorized the hiring of two people, only to later be told by the Attorney General’s office that no one can be hired during the absence of the county judge. A dispute arose when County Judge Robert Collins named seven prospective EKCEP employees, and the motion to hire them failed with Collins and Magistrate Billy Kelly voting to hire them and Magistrates Lee Hogg, Add Polly, and George Arthur Adams voting no. Hogg says he needs a secretary to answer the telephone at the Kingscreek garage, which he runs, and that position was not included in the jobs listed.

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“Coal Miner’s Daughter” starring Sissy Spacek as country star Loretta Lynn is showing this week at Isaac’s Alene Theatre in Whitesburg.

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Tammy Howard of Neon caught a fivefoot black snake last week while she was visiting on Doty Creek. She took it home and put it in a jar, where it ate an egg she gave it. Miss Howard, questioned about whether she feared snakes, remarked that she’s “not afraid of much,” to which her brother added, “she’s not afraid of anything.”

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Colonel Carl Little, son of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Little of Drift, recently assumed command of the Tobyhanna Army Depot in Tobyhanna, Penn.

WEDNESDAY JULY 25, 1990

The City of Whitesburg has bought the Lewis Wholesale Company building on East Main (Railroad Street) and will turn it into City Hall. Lewis Wholesale, the county’s oldest continuing business, is closing its doors October 1. The firm will move out of the 76-year-old building and the city will begin restoring the building exterior to its original appearance, Whitesburg Mayor James Asher said. Asher said the city plans to house City Hall, the police department and the fire department in the original section and in the three adjoining two-bay garages.

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The Letcher County Fiscal Court is expected to pass the final reading of a mandatory garbage ordinance at its regular July meeting next week. The court passed the first reading of the ordinance earlier this month and has set July 31 as the date for the second reading. The law would require every household to subscribe to a garbage collection service, but rather than a county-operated system as most counties with mandatory pickup have, Letcher County will continue to use franchised garbage haulers.

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Achievement test scores in the Letcher County Schools jumped nearly four points in 1990 over 1989 scores. School system officials said every grade showed higher test scores over the year before, averaging 4.6 points higher for the 12 grades.

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The City of Whitesburg will get money from the National Parks Service to help build its proposed Whitesburg River Park. The city will receive a $19,550 grant from the Parks Service for building trails, picnic areas and buildings on the property, which is located just off the Whitesburg Bypass on the banks of the North Fork of the Kentucky River.

WEDNESDAY JULY 19, 2000

Police officers began rounding up nearly 65 accused drug dealers in Letcher County on Monday morning after sting operations that police say have been going on for months. Kentucky State Police in Hazard ran the investigation, which also include the arrests in February of former coal operator Wilford Niece, his wife Melissa Niece, Jack Blair of McRoberts and Curtis Cornett Sr. of Van. Those four have pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.

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A federal judge has given Columbia Natural Resources immediate possession of 43 tracts of land in Letcher and Knott counties, allowing the company to begin construction of a 26-mile natural gas pipeline over the objections of the landowners. Columbia must first place its estimate of a fair market value of each piece of property in escrow with the court. Some tracts are valued at as little as $200 by the company. The fight isn’t over, however. Some residents have banded together and are sending surveys to everyone Columbia Natural Resources listed in its condemnation suit, hoping to prove that the people who signed a contract with the company did so under treat of condemnation. They hope to appeal the judge’s ruling on the grounds that the company did not act in good faith.

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Flash flooding caused scattered damage across the center of Letcher County on July 13, damaging 36 public bridges and roads. The flooding was isolated in an area roughly bounded by KY Hwy. 15, US 119 and Bottom Fork on the west and south, and KY 7, KY 931 and KY 1862 on the north and east. The flooding also extended through Seco and Whitaker along KY 805.

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Anthony Trotter of Seco recently competed in the National Junior Olympics Tournament in Marquette, Michigan. He is ranked fifth in amateur boxing in the United States. His coach is Eddie Trotter.

WEDNESDAY JULY 21, 2010

The Letcher Fiscal Group has agreed to study the question of whether the county treasury can afford to raise the hourly pay of county workers. The county agreed to examine the effects of a pay raise after a request for a raise led to a long and often heated discussion between employee John Lucas and members of the court. Lucas, who said he was representing himself and other county workers, asked the court for a $1 per hour raise. While most court members balked at a $1 raise, some members appeared ready to approve a raise of 25 cents per hour.

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A group of people is trying to organize a Letcher County Farmers Market to be located on Main Street in front of the Harry M. Caudill Memorial Library. The farmers market has been attempted several times this summer but only a vendor or two has showed up. one of the vendors, Lark McMillan-Fields, said home gardeners often end up with more produce than they can handle and selling their fruits and vegetables at the farmers market would be a way not to waste food and make extra cash.

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City police officers in Whitesburg will have new radios soon in an attempt to defeat communication problems that continue to plague the city and county. At the direction of Mayor James Wiley Craft, Police Chief Henry Day has solicited bids for a new system to serve the city and its agencies including the Whitesburg Police and Fire Departments as well as city workers. The city council voted to accept a bid from Tri-City Communications of Baxter for $41,999 for a new communication device.

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“The ‘official count’ of barn quilt squares is now at 60 in Letcher County,” writes County Extension Agent Ann Bradley, “and you will find at least one in almost every town and community. They are painted in rainbows of colors and in a wide variety of patterns.”

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