Chapter: Letcher County

As Letcher County KFTC members, we’re working for a healthy, sustainable community – where people have access to living wage jobs and affordable health care, educational opportunities, clean air and safe water. We believe we accomplish this vision by being active participants in our local and state government, and by organizing with our neighbors, friends and community.

Letcher County is KFTC’s longest continuous chapter. Over the last three decades, we’ve helped lead campaigns to end the abuses of the broad form deed and require wealthy mineral owners to pay their share of local property taxes. We continue to fight for clean water and to preserve our special heritage, which includes ending the destruction of our land and forests. We want our children to believe that their future is here and not somewhere else.

We love using art and music in our efforts, and working with other groups who share our vision. People of all ages and backgrounds are welcome, and we’d be excited if you’d join us.

Recent Activities

Eastern Kentuckians work to guide Promise Zone process

“The idea of the Promise Zone is encouraging,” said Elizabeth Sanders, Letcher County Steering Committee Rep., back in January. “We have a vision for a future for eastern Kentucky and know we have a lot of promise here in the mountains. If the resources from the federal government through the Promise Zone will coordinate with things like the SOAR Initiative and other existing and future programs, we may begin to see some steps toward the change the people of eastern Kentucky have been ready for and working toward.”


Since KFTC’s Appalachia’s Bright Future Conference in Harlan nearly a year ago, some big announcements and initiatives have surfaced to build wider support for a just economic transition in eastern Kentucky.

Governor Steve Brashear and 5th District Congressman Hal Rogers worked together to launch the SOAR initiative with a well-attended summit last December, and in January we welcomed the declaration of eight eastern Kentucky counties as federal ‘Promise Zones’. Since then, KFTC members have worked hard throughout the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly to lift up our best opportunities for statewide legislation and stay connected to all these efforts to guide the economic future of eastern Kentucky.

Last week KFTC members of the Harlan and Letcher chapters turned out for listening sessions to guide the regional plan of the federal Promise Zones. On Tuesday evening in Harlan, local members represented nearly a third of the 70 or so people who turned out at the Harlan Center. In the same room that hosted large group discussions at Appalachia’s Bright Future conference, Harlan countians shared a vision of hope and possibility.

Federal Promise Zone listening sessionVisions of parks, small businesses, trails and renewable energy made their way to large newsprint at the front of the room as a microphone was passed from table to table. Much of this spoken feedback was from young SKCTC students who traveled from the nearby community college campus with their entire evening class for the listening session.

Benham’s City Manager and longtime KFTC member Roy Silver shared the outline of an evolving "Benham Energy Project" collaboration between the city, Benham Power Board, COAP (Christian Outreach with Appalachian People) of Harlan, and KFTC. 

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Lifting our voices from Home during the General Assembly

It’s a long drive from eastern Kentucky to Frankfort; a full day’s work, to say the least. That’s why members of the Letcher County Chapter of KFTC are getting creative to lift their voices around important issues this Legislative Session. 

The chapter is wrapping up a solid week of terrific work around Kentucky’s General Assembly, right here at home. Last Wednesday, several members hosted a Mountain Talk program on local community radio station WMMT 88.7 FM. The program’s theme of Voting Rights in Kentucky followed up on a recent radio news piece covering a lobby day and rally at the State Capitol in Frankfort organized by the Kentucky Voting Rights Coalition. The Mountain Talk featured clips from that rally as well as commentary from former felon Kristi Kendall in Floyd County,WMMT Mtn Talk on HB 70 retired judge Jim Bowling in Bell County, and the father of a former felon/ coal miner, Carl Shoupe in Harlan County.  

Besides the too often told story of firsthand disenfranchisement of themselves or family members, Judge Bowling gave powerful testimony of his experience sitting on the bench, forced to hand down harsh felony convictions for offenses that once were misdemeanors.

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KFTC members respond to Promise Zone designation

KFTC members welcomed today’s announcement by President Barack Obama designating eight counties in eastern Kentucky as a "Promise Zone."

The designation will give the counties priority in applying for federal funding for programs that increase job training, access to affordable housing, educational opportunities, and more.



“The idea of the Promise Zone is encouraging,” said Elizabeth Sanders, a KFTC member from Letcher County, one of the Promise Zone counties. “We have a vision for a future for eastern Kentucky and know we have a lot of promise here in the mountains. If the resources from the federal government through the Promise Zone will coordinate with things like the SOAR Initiative and other existing and future programs, we may begin to see some steps toward the change the people of eastern Kentucky have been ready for and working toward.”


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Groups challenge EPA decision allowing Kentucky officials to gut clean water protection

Spinal deformities in fish resulting from selenium exposure. Photo: Wake Forest University.

On Friday, community and environmental groups took legal action against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a recent decision allowing Kentucky to weaken its water quality standards for selenium, a pollutant common to mountaintop removal coal mines.

"KFTC and our allies have worked for years to make EPA fully aware of the systemic failures of Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet to protect our commonwealth’s people, waters and environment,” said Doug Doerrfeld, a member of KFTC’s litigation team. “In light of this history it is disgraceful that EPA would approve a weakened selenium standard that will not only leave aquatic life at risk but will make citizen enforcement all but impossible."

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KFTC members speak up for just transition at SOAR Summit

The conversation about economic transition in eastern Kentucky and Appalachia got a big boost on Monday as more than 1,500 people gathered in Pikeville for the SOAR Summit. Dozens of KFTC members participated, sounding the drumbeat for a just transition in the mountains and distributing ideas and literature with specific suggestions on the principles, process and policies that should guide that transition.

SOAR stands for Shaping Our Appalachian Region, a regional planning process announced in October by Governor Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers. The summit on December 9 in Pikeville was the first step in that process.

But KFTC members have been talking about a just transition for years.

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Chapter Feature:

Celebrating our work!

EKY Holiday Party


Click to view some 2012 highlights!

Regular Meetings:

Our monthly chapter meeting is the second Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. 

We rotate the locations so be sure to check the calendar.

Everyone is welcome to come and bring friends!

Chapter Organizer:

Whitesburg, KY 41858
606-632-0051

Upcoming Events:

June 24

Letcher Co. Annual Chapter Meeting

220 Main St
Whitesburg, KY 41837

Our annual chapter meeting is the one time a year we get to provide feedback and nominations for KFTC statewide platform, committees, and elect chapter officers.