Toward a bright future in Harlan County

Harlan County KFTC members from Lynch to Loyall have been busy behind the scenes of Appalachia's Bright Future, before and after the conference, building toward better days in Harlan and beyond.  2013 has already been a huge year for one of KFTC's first chapters, positioned on one of the farthest ends of Kentucky.  Besides hosting a three-day conference for over 200 people near and far, the chapter has seen local projects gain momentum and the chapter grow and grow. 

January 2013 meeting with Sen. Brandon SmithBack in January, after months of appealing denials and pleading to state officials, the Phillips family of Black Joe saw a $1 million state funded project begin behind their home and community to stabilize a dangerous land slide that had already significantly damaged their home and others. During the legislative session, Harlan members welcomed their State Senator and new Majority Whip, Brandon Smith, back to his district to discuss our economy, opportunities, voting rights, and more.  In March the Harlan Chapter hosted the 2nd annual Potluck on Pine Mountain with the neighboring Letcher Chapter. There in Cumberland, over 30 people gathered in the rain and snow to eat BBQ, hear local fiddle tunes, visit with one another, and plan for bigger and better days to come. 

Lynch Sewer Plant EE UpgradesNow, a four-year collaboration with the City of Lynch has finally gained momentum and is resulting in energy upgrades and retrofits on multiple Lynch city buildings.  Bennie Massey of the Lynch city council said of the project, “We were losing money all over the place. These energy projects really work. The taxpayers were paying those big bills.  All the departments are looking to save money now.”  

Currently work is happening to upgrade doors, windows, and framing, as well as reroof the Lynch sewer plant.  As you can see in the picture, the sewer plant is the first building as you enter the City of Lynch, positioned directly behind the city's beautiful welcome sign.   

KFTC_Conf_2401For Appalachia’s Bright Future Conference, Harlan members planned and promoted for months, gathered and donated silent auction items, built excitement locally and participated as emcees, panelists, workshop presenters, artists, musicians, tour guides, hosts, chefs, decorators, billboard stars, experts of their own experience, and so much more.  Lauren Adams, a mom, artist, and work-study student at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Cumberland who presented and joined KFTC at the conference said, “I'm pretty sure it has changed the course of my life.”

Stanley & Bennie, LynchAll this success, while still holding off destructive mining with an ongoing Lands Unsuitable for Mining petition, attending fiscal court meetings, planning a water testing training for July, launching a chapter facebook page, starting to help investigate a sudden fish kill in Catrons Creek, and exploring more county-wide collaboration with allies like the Pine Mountain Settlement School and Benham Power Board.  During the May chapter potluck at the Harlan Library, members shared that our biggest chaHarlan County Chapter Potluckllenge right now may be communicating out what we are able to accomplish when we work together.Clair Stines, a retired nurse of Loyall, shared that  “we just can’t get the word out like we need to that Harlan has all this potential and we can change things. We’ve got to communicate especially to all the 20-40 year olds that we can do it!"

The 2013 annual Harlan Chapter meeting will be held Monday, June 3rd at 6 pm in Linda's Bear Lodge at the Putney Trail Head, 8331 HWY 119 N in Putney. We'll celebrate the year behind us and plan for the year ahead. Everyone committed to a better Harlan County for all is welcome to join in the potluck, ideas, and fellowship.

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