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

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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Appalachia's Bright Future opening session sets tone of challenge and hopefulness

Appalachia’s Bright Future conference got off to a hopeful and challenging start Friday night as participants explored lessons learned from efforts by communities in Wales to “regenerate” after a dramatic loss of coal mining jobs.

Though coal mining is still a part of Wales’ economy, much changed when tens of thousands of jobs were lost over a span of a few years in the 1980s, said Hywel and Mair Francis.

Recovery did not come quickly or easily – and is still very much in process – they explained. But it is happening because people in the region took the initiative, relied on the assets they had in local communities and found partners outside their valleys to support new projects.

Russell Oliver & Hywel Francis“We always felt our dreams should become a reality,” said Mair Francis, a founder of Dove Workshop, a community development program in Wales. But, she added, “it was something we had to fight for ourselves.”

She described Dove as a “a bottoms-up organization – we respond to the needs of the community.” Success has come because what they’re “doing relates to what the people want in the community – good child care, good transport, good jobs.” She also noted that "what made the local struggles so different was the role of women. They did not simply support; they led."

A variety of projects have helped diversify local economies, explained Hywel, ranging from mountain biking trails to a wind farm to reclamation of toxic slag piles left by the mining and other projects to draw wealth to their region.

The history of Welsh coal mining communities is well-documented by Appalachian scholars Dr. Helen Lewis and Pat Beaver and filmmaker Tom Hansell, who also were on the opening night panel. In 1975, Lewis and others started visiting Wales. And in 1979, with Beaver's involvement, they began an exchange of Welsh and Appalachian coal miners.

Lewis said she was drawn by a similar history of industrialization based on the extraction of minerals, and experience of colonialism. She wondered, concerning both Wales and Appalachia, “How could an area that created the greatest wealth be the poorest part of the state?”

The panel’s presentation After Coal: Wales and Appalachian Mining Communities helped participants be challenged by the question, as stated by Hansell: “How do you create an economy that works for the majority of people” where there will no longer be a single major employer, a single major driver of the economy?

's Bright Future 922In her opening comments, conference co-emcee Elizabeth Sanders of Letcher County gave some guidance and set the tone for the rest of the weekend. “We know we have to work together to build it. And we all have something to bring to the table,” she said. “We come up with what’s going to work by bringing these ideas together … and creating a shared vision. That’s why I’m excited about this weekend.”

Appalachia's Bright Future continues on Saturday and Sunday at the Harlan Center.

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Elizabeth Sanders and Sylvia Ryerson on Appalachia's Bright Future

KFTC members Elizabeth Sanders and Sylvia Ryerson discuss just transition, economic development and creating a New Power movement in eastern Kentucky and Appalachia.

You can join Elizabeth and Sylvia at Appalachia's Bright Future, April 19-21 in Harlan, Kentucky.

For more information and to register for the conference, please visit kftc.org/abf

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Beshear administration still pushing weakened water quality standard for selenium

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

On Tuesday, a legislative subcommittee will consider again a proposal from Kentucky’s Division of Water to significantly weaken the water quality standard for selenium pollution.

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Growing Appalachia On WMMT

Growing Appalachia Mt. TalkOn Monday, members of the Growing Appalachia planning committee appeared on WMMT's Mountain Talk- a weekly program that covers a wide range of topics pertaining to life in the mountains. Knott County member Fern Nafziger and Rowan County member Cody Montgomery appeared as in-studio guests on the show hosted by Sylvia Ryerson and Mimi Pickering. The show also featured call-in guests Paul Wiedeger of Au Naturel Farms and Will Bowling from Old Homeplace Farm both of which are presenters at Growing Appalachia this Saturday. The guests gave listeners a preview of the workshops they can attend on Saturday and had a great discussion about local food systems, season extension, foraging and more. You can listen to the podcast by visiting WMMT's website.

Growing Appalachia is an event sponsored by the Floyd County chapter and offers a day of free workshops around do-it-yourself energy efficiency, small-scale farming, beginning organic gardening and food preservation. Join us this Saturday, March 9th at the Jenny Wiley Convention Center in Prestonsburg. Lunch will be offered and is locally sourced. You can register for Growing Appalachia by going to kftc.org/growing. You can also join the conversation on Facebook. You don't want to miss this!

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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:

July 29

Rally for health care

81 Church Street
Pikeville, KY

This family-friendly event is part of a national day of action: http://ourlivesontheline.org/.