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

Building a bright future on Pine Mountain

KFTC_Conf_290The Letcher County chapter has worked hard over the past year to raise local visibility of their work, build collaboration with neighboring chapters, and increasingly plan and participate in local trainings and events.  With radio talk shows, newspaper ads and editorials, an increased facebook presence and more, the chapter is reaching and involving more and more people, from Blackey to Oven Fork.  Through work with the Appalachia’s Bright Future conference silent auction, the Letcher Chapter has already raised over three fourths of their annual fundraising goal! The last calendar year alone has included potlucks, water testing and citizen lobbying trainings, art raffles, voter empowerment drives, and countless appearances at fiscal court meetings to speak out for clean water and safe mining in our communities.

KFTC_Conf_368Just in the last month, Letcher County KFTC members spoke out at a Public Service Commission hearing about a Kentucky Power proposal to raise local electric rates.  They shared a message of vision, possibility and responsibility the company has to provide local ratepayers with the “least cost options” for long term, sustainable solutions. 

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AEP/Kentucky Power should be forward looking

In order to comply with new clean air standards by 2015, American Electric Power/ Kentucky Power has put forth a request to the Kentucky Public Service Commission to shut down their coal-burning B

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Great resources and videos from Appalachia's Bright Future conference now online

The Appalachia’s Bright Future conference, held in Harlan, KY April 19-22, brought together more than 200 people for conversations about shaping a just transition in eastern Kentucky and Central Appalachia.

Appalachia's Bright Future

KFTC is pleased to now make available a large number of videos, presentations, notes, media coverage about the event, suggested next steps, and other documents that were shared or created during the weekend.

The collected information can be found here.

We appreciate all of the speakers, workshop presenters, artists and conference participants who shared stories and provided important information and perspectives. Even a brief review of the conference web pages makes it clear that this was a pretty extraordinary gathering and conversation.

As KFTC chairperson Sue Tallichet said during her opening remarks, “…it is difficult to envision more than a coal-based economy in our region. But I believe we have the opportunity, today, to build a diverse and healthy economy here in the mountains. Eastern Kentucky has many assets. We have a rich culture, an abundance of natural resources, and innovative, serious-minded, hard working people. Those things give us a foundation on which we can build.”

Justin Maxson, president of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, underscored the point. “…if you take anything away from what I say here today, I hope it is this: We know a lot more than we think we know. We have many more assets to build from than we often believe. And despite our many challenges, including rapid changes to our local and regional economy, there are innovative people providing hopeful examples all around us. What we need now is to knit these pieces together with a vision for Appalachian renewal and help grow them to scale.”

KFTC members and many of our allies in the region are spending time this month reflecting on the conference and developing key next steps. We encourage all KFTC members to bring your ideas and questions to the next chapter meeting in your area. You may also leave comments and questions on the conference web pages. And conference participants are invited to join a phone call on May 30th to discuss ways forward.

Together we can build Appalachia’s Bright Future.

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Prisons won't unlock prosperity in E. Ky.

U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers recently announced major progress for efforts to bring a new maximum-security federal prison to Letcher County, one of the many Eastern Kentucky counties hard hit by the declining coal industry.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons awarded a contract to conduct an environmental impact study on two selected sites. But even as that process moves forward, no funding has yet been allocated for construction of the proposed $250 million to $350 million project.

If built, this will be the fourth new federal prison to come to Eastern Kentucky, and the sixth federal prison built in Central Appalachia, since 1992 — in addition to new state and private prisons. Indeed, in the last quarter-century of skyrocketing incarceration, Central Appalachia has become one of the most concentrated areas of prison growth in the country.

Each prison came with the promise of hundreds of jobs and broad-scale economic growth. So as Letcher County waits, we should ask, what happened in these other prison-host communities. Did the promises come true?

McCreary County, where a federal prison opened in 2004, provides one example.

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Appeals Court agrees: permit used to bury streams with mining wastes not valid

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit today invalidated the 2007 version of the nationwide permit used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to authorize the dumping of coal mining wastes into hundreds of miles of Appalachian headwater streams.

The Corps had justified the using the National Permit (NWP 21) based on the "irrational" claim that burying streams with toxic mining wastes had no significant environmental impact.

“I’m thrilled they overturned this decision; it’s a victory for people in eastern Kentucky," said KFTC member Rick Handshoe, a party in the case whose family land in Floyd County is surrounded by mining. "People who live in eastern Kentucky deal with both the immediate and long-term cumulative impacts of mining everyday. Even when the mining is stopped and the coal company is long gone, we deal with the poisoned water and devastated land for decades afterwards.”

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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:

June 6

Letcher County Annual Chapter Meeting

KY

Letcher County Annual Chapter Meeting. Join in!