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

Prisons won’t fuel innovation economy in eastern Kentucky

June 6 is the first Innovation Summit hosted by SOAR [Shaping Our Appalachian Region]. It’s a milestone for eastern Kentucky to have a state and federal platform that is focused on creative avenues for economic growth. In fact, innovation is the bedrock to our country’s 21st century economy and frankly eastern Kentucky has a lot to prove if we are to compete.

Support from the federal government has gone a long way in helping our region contribute to this country’s innovation boom. Unfortunately, that money has been slow in coming, or is being wasted on other things. For example, Congress, with the help of Congressman Hal Rogers, recently allocated $444 million to Letcher County – but the money won’t be spent on innovation or community-driven solutions. It will be spent on bringing a federal prison here.

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Croeso i Seedtime! Celebrating Home & Global Community

From left: After Coal director Tom Hansel, DOVE Workshop Coordinator Lesley Smith, Tanya Turner, Elizabeth Sanders, and DOVE Workshop staff at the former coal board office turned women's education hub in Banwen, Neath, July 2015.

This weekend we not only celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Seedtime on the Cumberland, we welcome (or croeso in Welsh) to Whitesburg, friends from very familiar looking communities in South Wales. Last summer my best friend Elizabeth and I had one of those rare, life-changing chances to visit another country, not as mere tourists, but as guests in the homes of musicians, artists, community leaders, and members of British Parliament. After days of travel on planes, trains, and buses from Whitesburg to Wales, we found ourselves rolling through hills that looked like home.

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Letcher Countians speak out against proposed federal prison

Last year, Congress approved funding for a new maximum security federal prison in Letcher County – the only new federal prison in the nation. The estimated preliminary cost of construction is $460 -$510 million. Rep. Hal Rogers has touted the prison as the main economic engine in eastern Kentucky. 

In Letcher County, we have so much potential, and with the right investments could create local economic engines that serve our land and our people. The Letcher County KFTC Chapter does not believe that this prison offers the economic development that Letcher County deserves.

Local residents are joining together to voice concerns about the prison. Chapter members have formed a work team to participate and to highlight alternative economic drivers that would support a just transition for our region.

On April 1, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) announced that it was forced to re-open a public comment period for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the prison in Letcher County after facing multiple shortcomings, including violations of public notice requirements, in its "Final EIS" released last July. A 30-day window is now open on a Revised Final EIS.

Mitch Whitaker, a local resident, recently had an op-ed published in the Lexington Herald-Leader about his concerns. Check it out, below, and keep on the lookout for more.

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Federal grants support economic transition efforts for eastern Kentucky

KFTC members are applauding the Obama administration’s commitment to a just economic transition for eastern Kentucky through the investments in people and communities reflected in several

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Members ask for strong protections for streams affected by mining

Members of KFTC, the Sierra Club, Kentucky Waterways Alliance, Appalachian Citizens Law Center, Kentucky Conservation Committee, Appalachian Voices, Kentucky Resources Council and others had a strong presence at a public hearing September 3 to advocate for the strongest possible protections for water in communities where coal is mined and downstream.

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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:

Sara Estep
Whitesburg, KY 41858
606-632-0051

Upcoming Events:

August 26

KFTC Annual Membership Meeting

Carrollton, KY