Category Archives: KENTUCKY

Free & Pardon JOHNNY BOONE!


Free & Pardon JOHNNY BOONE!

#FREEJOHNNYBOONE

 

Anthony Hilbert Bloomfield, KY

 

Johnny Robert Boone a.k.a “The Godfather of Grass” was arrested just outside of Montreal Canada December 22, 2016 and is in the processes of being extradited back to the United States. Johnny is a man that found a way to support his community and family with a plant that has the potential to help society in more ways than one.

For more information on Johnny Boone’s history I suggest two books that can both be found on amazon:

Jim Higdon’s “Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate’s Code Of Silence And The Biggest Marijuana Bust In American History” 

Joe Keith Bickett’s “The Origins of the Cornbread Mafia”

Sadly he is looking at possible life in prison for Marijuana cultivation related charges. It is time to really look at the simple truth. We have a growing number of states legalizing cannabis and exponentially growing support for the legalization of cannabis. It is only a matter of time before we are looking at the underground cannabis industry like we now look at the bootleggers in the old days of prohibition. It is senseless and unnecessary to continue to prosecute these crimes. Johnny represents TRUTH and COMMUNITY. 

#FREEJOHNNYBOONE

Anyone with any legal expertise please email arhilbert@gmail.com I would like suggestions on how to proceed once sufficient signatures have been obtained.  

This petition will be delivered to:

  • DOJ Office of the Pardon Attorney

CONTINUE READING AND TO SIGN

Dear Governor Bevin,


bird on hemp

 

Dear Governor Bevin,

I’m Audra Baker. My question is when are you plan on legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal reasons?

I am the mother of 6 year old twins both with special needs. One with severe ADHD and the other non verbal autism.

I have done extensive research and have seen that cannabis oil has been proven to improve the symptoms of both these disorders. My family is considering moving to Colorado to be able to give my kids a better quality of life.

In addition to the health aspect of the legalization it will be an extreme boost to the economy.

My husband and I are both from KY and don’t want to leave but as a parent knowing there is an all natural medical alternative to the harsh drugs given to children I am doing my kids an injustice by staying.

I know we are not alone in the fight for legalization of medical marijuana. There are hundreds of ailments that can be drastically helped by its benefits. Millions of Kentuckians are suffering.
It seems the general assembly has come to an end again without any advancing of any marijuana bill at all to arrive on your desk. We as Kentuckians can’t wait indefinitely on the legislative branch to help our quality of life. Merely discussing this in Frankfort is just not enough. We need action. You have an incredible power like no other governor of KY has before. You have the ability to change and save lives. And change history in our state.

President Trump is a deal maker. So am I. SO is KENTUCKY. Let’s all work together and make this happen. So many other states are taking advantage of the increased tax dollars to improve schools, roads and commerce. JOBS will be created in so many of the poor counties of KY like those affected by factories closing and farming almost becoming obsolete. There are so many positive reasons.
Let’s all work together to make this happen. I don’t want to move to Colorado but it will soon be a necessity.
Thank you for reading this and I hope to hear from you soon.

God bless you and God bless Kentucky

Sincerely, Audra Baker

Kentucky is on the cusp of doing what was once unthinkable: opening the door to nuclear power.


FILE - In this Oct. 16, 2014 file photo, fog hovers over a mountaintop as a cutout depicting a coal miner stands at a memorial to local miners killed on the job in Cumberland, Ky. The Republican-controlled Kentucky state legislature is on the cusp of lifting its decades-long moratorium on nuclear energy, a move unthinkable just three years ago in a state that has been culturally and economically dominated by coal. As the coal industry continues its slide, even Republican lawmakers are acknowledging a need for alternatives.

Above: FILE – In this Oct. 16, 2014 file photo, fog hovers over a mountaintop as a cutout depicting a coal miner stands at a memorial to local miners killed on the job in Cumberland, Ky. The Republican-controlled Kentucky state legislature is on the cusp of lifting its decades-long moratorium on nuclear energy, a move unthinkable just three years ago in a state that has been culturally and economically dominated by coal. As the coal industry continues its slide, even Republican lawmakers are acknowledging a need for alternatives. David Goldman, File AP Photo

By ADAM BEAM Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky.

Donald Trump promised to bring back coal jobs, but even the country’s third-largest coal producer appears to be hedging its bets on a comeback. Kentucky is on the cusp of doing what was once unthinkable: opening the door to nuclear power.

The Republican-controlled state legislature is close to lifting its decades-long moratorium on nuclear energy in a state that has been culturally and economically dominated by coal. Politicians from both parties have promised for years to revive the struggling coal industry, with Trump famously billing himself as “the last shot for miners.” But as the coal industry continues its slide, even Republican lawmakers are acknowledging a need for alternatives.

“There are other factors other than the administration in the White House that controls this. There are banks that are reluctant at this point to give loans for coal-fired furnaces,” said Republican state Sen. Danny Carroll, who sponsored the bill. “You look at the jobs that were lost, you look at the production of coal and how that has declined, we’ve got to learn lessons from that and we’ve got to have a third option.”

Kentucky’s coal industry has been steadily declining for decades. Coal mining employment has fallen from 31,000 in 1990 to just over 6,300. Just three years ago, coal-fired power plants provided 93 percent of the state’s electricity. Today, that has fallen to 83 percent, according to the Kentucky Coal Association, as older plants are being shut down and replaced by natural gas.

Kentucky is one of 15 states that restrict the construction of new nuclear power facilities according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wisconsin lifted its ban last year. Nationwide, there are 61 nuclear power plants with 99 nuclear reactors in 30 states, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The bill has passed the state Senate and could get a vote in the House of Representatives on Tuesday

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin told Cincinnati radio station WKRC he would not veto the bill if it makes it to his desk.

“I don’t see it as a threat to that existing energy infrastructure. I see it as just increasing the opportunities of things we might be able to do in Kentucky,” he said.

The bill has been pushed by local government and business leaders in the western part of the state, which was home to one of the few uranium enrichment plants in the country before it closed in 2013. That left the area teeming with a skilled workforce with no hope of employment in their field.

“Without that moratorium lifted, we absolutely have no opportunity,” said Bob Leeper, the judge executive for McCracken County and a former state senator who has pushed to lift the moratorium for years.

But Kentucky has been burned by the nuclear industry in the past. In the 1960s, seeking to lure the emerging nuclear energy industry into the state, Kentucky set up a place to store toxic waste. From 1963 to 1977, more than 800 corporations dumped 4.7 million cubic feet of radioactive waste at the site, but no nuclear reactor was ever built. The Maxey Flats site is closed, but its contaminated soil, surface water and groundwater resulted in an expensive state and federal cleanup.

“This is the Faustian bargain we engage in. We get cheap energy, but we saddle future generations with millennia responsibility of being mature enough to properly manage waste we are generating,” said Tom Fitzgerald, executive director of the Kentucky Resources Council, which has opposed lifting the moratorium.

Even if the ban is lifted, a nuclear power plant could still take more than 10 years to develop given the rigorous permitting process. And construction would be expensive, which would threaten to drive up electricity rates to pay for it. That is of particular concern to the state’s manufacturing sector, which uses large amounts of electricity in their production processes.

The bill requires state officials to review the state’s permitting process to ensure costs and “environmental consequences” are taken into account. That was enough for Fitzgerald to be “neutral” on the bill.

The Kentucky Coal Association is also neutral, although president Tyler White said they were not happy with the bill.

“We think there are more realistic policies that we should be pursuing in Frankfort than nuclear,” he said.

CONTINUE READING…

This is the story of the FDA’s persecution of Samuel Girod.


 

 

By Sally Oh on March 1, 2017 | Comments 2 | Affiliate Disclosure

Here’s a video explaining the entire thing, transcript with links below.

Let’s be clear about a couple of pertinent facts:

1. The FDA made up arbitrary rules, then accused Sam of breaking those rules.

2. There are no victims. Samuel Girod has hurt no one.

3. FDA-approved pharmaceutical drugs kill 1 person every 19 minutes. Merck’s FDA-approved Vioxx killed over 68,000 people. Nobody in Big Pharma goes to jail. They pay out billions in fines (after making billions in profits.) No companies close, nobody goes to jail. Nobody. Even after killing and harming 100s of thousands of people.

4. Sam Girod and his products have hurt no one.

The Story of the FDA v Samuel Girod

Samuel Girod and his family have been making and selling 3 all-natural herbal products for nearly 20 years. In all those years, one woman had a bad reaction to a salve (which Sam made right and the woman was fine).

No one has ever been harmed by the products, the Girods have pages of testimonials and scores of repeat customers.

The 3 products are: Original Chickweed, a beeswax, essential oils and olive oil salve; Sine-Eze, a blend of essential oils; and To-Mor-Gone, an herbal bloodroot product in a base of beeswax and olive oil aka “black salve”.

All of these products are currently ALSO made and sold online worldwide (including on Amazon) by other people using these same basic ingredients. The recipes are online as well, you can make them in your kitchen.

HOW IT STARTED

Sixteen years ago, in 2001, an FDA agent visited Sam at his home in IN and informed Sam that he could not claim his products could help skin cancer. At that time, the chickweed salve label said: “[g]ood for all skin disorders. Skin cancer, cuts, burns, draws, and poison ivy.”

According to the FDA, when you make a medical claim about a product, that means the product is a “drug. Therefore you have to do years of testing, costing millions of dollars to prove the claim.

Sam had to change his label or do the testing.

So Sam changed the label, removing the reference to skin cancer.

He asked the agent to get back to him on what label would be acceptable to the FDA. The agent said she would within three weeks but she never did.

The label now said, “[g]ood for skin disorders. Dry skin, cuts, burns, draws, and poison ivy.” No skin cancer reference.

Between 2001 and 2004, Sam was visited several times by FDA agents. When he asked the agents what was acceptable on the label, none would give
an answer.

Sam did not receive any further communication from the FDA until 2012.

In Jan 2012, someone called the FDA and reported that a store in MO was selling Chickweed Healing Salve and that medical claims were being made.

The FDA confiscated the products from the store and opened #Case 4:12-cv-00362-GAF on Sam. You will find a link to the complaint and a link to Sam’s answer in the transcript below.

This is the complaint: http://bit.ly/27-on-120928-Girod-Amended-Complaint

This is Sam’s answer to the complaint: http://bit.ly/37-on-121228-Girod-Answer-Defenses


In fact, here are all the court documents on Sam’s entire case. There are two folders: the 1st is for the labeling, the 2nd is for the criminal indictment.


PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK TO THE FULL STORY!

CONTINUE READING AND TO VIDEO HERE!

Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens Week in Review


Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens
Week in Review

Members of the Senate took action on one of the issues of greatest interest to Kentuckians when we passed a major education bill this week that would begin aligning university funding with the state’s top postsecondary education goals.

Senate Bill 153, that I sponsored, changes Kentucky’s historical approach to college and university funding. In the past, postsecondary funding has been based on what each school received in the previous budget cycle. Under the proposal that the Senate approved this week, funding would instead be based on how well schools are helping the state reach major postsecondary education attainment goals. Among the goals the legislation focuses on are:

· Increasing student progress toward the completion of degrees or certification.

· Increasing the number and types of degrees and credentials earned by students, with a focus on those that lead to higher salaries, such as science, technology, engineering, math, health, and other areas of industry demands.

· Closing achievement gaps by increasing the number of credentials and degrees earned by low-income students and minority students.

· Boosting the accumulation of credit hours and the transfer of students from the Kentucky Community and Technical College System to four-year postsecondary institutions.

Under the legislation, which was approved by the Senate on a 36-1 vote, the postsecondary funding formula would appropriate 35 percent of funds based on student success tied to outcomes, 35 percent would be tied to total student credit hours, and 30 percent would be based on supporting vital campus operations.

The new funding model would be phased in over four years to provide stability to postsecondary schools as they move to the outcomes-based formula.

The legislation also calls for a postsecondary work group to review the results of the new funding model every three years to make sure it’s achieving its goals. The work group would make recommendations to the General Assembly as needed.

Senate Bill 153 has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration

During this midpoint week, we spent a large amount of time in committees and passing bills on the floor. Friday marked day 18 of 30 of the 2017 Session, so the window of time to pass legislation is closing. We passed quite a few important bills through the Senate, including:

  • Senate Bill 8 defunds organizations that fund abortions, such as Planned Parenthood;
  • Senate Bill 21 allows for the use of experimental treatments not yet approved by the FDA if the patient is diagnosed with a terminal illness;
  • Senate Bill 107 gives the General Assembly a check-and-balance means of ensuring balanced boards of postsecondary institutions. This is another step to ensure the leadership at our state universities follow the law and act in the best interest of the students.
  • Senate Bill 122 establishes a Gold Star Sons and Gold Star Daughters special license plate for children of the armed forces who were killed overseas;
  • Senate Bill 159 requires all public high school students to pass a civics test in order to receive a regular diploma. This passing score would be a minimum of 60 percent and the questions would be pulled from the test required of all people seeking to become U.S. citizens.

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with questions, concerns, and your ideas for the future of our commonwealth. It is an honor to represent you in the State Senate.

If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181. You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov.

David Givens

Senate President Pro Tem

Louisville drug task force halted amid scandal


USA Today Network Beth Warren, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal Published 7:54 p.m. ET Feb. 28, 2017 |

636238935477448408-ups-worldport-strupp-18018.jpg

An elite Louisville task force that intercepted shipments of heroin and other illegal drugs at UPS’ worldwide hub — considered a “primary” drug pipeline for the region — has been disbanded following a police scandal.

Louisville Metro Police had led the multi-agency task force for more than a decade, until a probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation last year uncovered a large theft by one of the task force’s on-duty detectives.

LMPD pulled the task force — which included federal agents with Homeland Security Investigations — out of the shipping giant’s Worldport air hub in September and reassigned LMPD detectives to other narcotics operations, a Courier-Journal investigation has found.

“Losing that is a major setback,” said Louisville Metro Councilman David James, head of the council’s public safety committee.

James, a former LMPD narcotics detective, said he had assisted task force members several times in intercepting drugs at the shipping hub.

“Worldport, while they are a tremendous asset to our community, the drug dealers see it as a tremendous opportunity for their businesses — making that one of their primary ways in the region for distributing drugs and funds,” James said.

►MORE FROM THE CJ: Concealed guns bill ‘on life support’

Narcotics investigators across the state are anxiously watching to see if the task force can be restored and operations resumed inside the 5.2 million-square-foot UPS facility, located at Louisville International Airport and billed as the heart of UPS’ global air network.

Former LMPD detective Kyle Willett pleaded guilty to

Former LMPD detective Kyle Willett pleaded guilty to $74,000 theft (Photo: provided by Louisville Metro Police Department)

Much of the illegal drugs are shipped from Mexican cartels, said U.S. Attorney John Kuhn, who is over federal prosecutors in the Western District of Kentucky. Investigators have used drug-detecting dogs to intercept packages headed to Louisville or through Worldport en route to other destinations.

“It’s so important that this task force be reconstituted,” Kuhn said. “We’re having productive conversations with UPS. They don’t want to be shipping poison.”

The task force was disbanded after veteran LMPD Detective Kyle Willett — once featured on the true crime TV show “48 Hours” — admitted intercepting packages, headed from drug dealers to larger suppliers, and taking them to his car several times last year. From January through August, he stole more than $74,700, according to his guilty plea in federal court in December. He is awaiting sentencing.

Police are still dealing with the ripple effects of his crimes.

“It’s disappointing,” LMPD’s Deputy Chief Michael Sullivan said Tuesday of Willett’s actions and the ensuing fallout. “We suspended what we were doing out there because we wanted to find out what was going on.

“We’ll look at policies and practices and see what we did right and what we did wrong,” he said.

►READ MORE: 3-day pain pill limit easily passes House

►SEE ALSO: Ky. House considers changes to drivers’ licenses

UPS must consent to allow the task force back on its private property to initiate drug investigations, Kuhn said, otherwise detectives would be required to have a search warrant, hamstringing investigators battling the region’s heroin and opioid crisis.

“The task force removed itself from Worldport. We did not remove them,” UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot said.

UPS has continued in-house security measures to intercept illegal packages and has called in LMPD and various law enforcement across the country, Mangeot said. He declined to discuss specifics.

“What we have here is a rogue cop. It’s exceedingly rare.”

News of the FBI investigation spread through Louisville’s police force and to reporters, who pressed the department and city officials for information Sept. 16. That night, LMPD spokesman Dwight Mitchell sent a news release announcing that Willett and one of his fellow task force members, Thomas Barth, had been placed on administrative reassignment after the force received information they “may have violated federal law.”

Willett and Barth were part of a task force that in 2011 had earned a competitive spot in the federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, a designation by the Office of National Drug Control Policy that requires federal, state and local partnerships. Investigators with Kentucky State Police and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office were also part of the task force.

Their HIDTA team, known as the parcel interdiction task force or Airport Interdiction Unit conducted frequent inspections of shipments headed to or through Louisville in a partnership with UPS as well as other shipping companies like DHL Express, Fed-Ex and the United State Postal Service, which Kuhn said also are used by drug traffickers.

Within days of the task force pulling out of Worldport, LMPD officials also halted participation in the HIDTA program, which had augmented the task force with about $200,000 annually and linked its members to a network of resources and training.

Appalachia HIDTA executive director Vic Brown, who oversees 34 HIDTA initiatives in Kentucky and three other states from his London, Kentucky, headquarters, said LMPD officials told him in mid-September they were suspending requests for HIDTA funding — after the FBI investigation of the task force was made public.

“We didn’t cut off funding,” Brown said. “They came to us and said, due to the incident that happened, the task force is no longer operating.”

 

A California drug task force called LMPD last year to report something amiss at Worldport. Chief Steve Conrad referred the case to the FBI. The federal investigation included watching task force members on video surveillance. Something they discovered lead to the initial criminal investigation of Barth.

Five months later, the department hasn’t issued any news releases on the task force or any follow-ups on Barth.

The detective didn’t want to discuss the investigation with a reporter, according to his attorney, Steve Schroering. But Schroering said he was told several weeks ago that Barth wouldn’t face criminal charges federally or at the state level.

“Tommy Barth did not break any laws whatsoever and he’s looking forward to resuming his career with the police department,” Schroering said.

On Monday, Mitchell confirmed an ongoing internal investigation by the Professional Standards Unit, which evaluates if any departmental policies or procedures have been violated. Neither Barth’s attorney nor the department spokesman would discuss the nature of the ongoing investigation.

But Schroering said “there was never any allegation that Tommy Barth stole anything. He’s on light duty, administrative duties, not out on the street actively patrolling. He’s certainly hopeful he’ll remain with LMPD.”

 

Kuhn confirmed that Willett was the only task force member his office planned to prosecute.

“What we have here is a rogue cop,” the U.S. Attorney said. “It’s exceedingly rare.”

Still, he acknowledged that rebuilding trust between UPS and law enforcement will take time.

He has discussed intensifying management and oversight of the task force, possibly designating Homeland Security in a co-leadership role with LMPD.

LMPD’s Sullivan called discussions with UPS “very preliminary,” too early to predict how the task force would be structured. He said the department is still reviewing policies and procedures of the operations to see if adjustments need to be made.

“We’re having productive conversations with UPS. They don’t want to be shipping poison.”

 

“We want to make sure we have the systems in place to mitigate the possibility of these types of things happening in the future,” the deputy chief said.

“Obviously, being a major hub, it’s very important. There’s definitely a need for us to be there.”

Kuhn, who is on the Appalachia HIDTA executive board, said, “It’s understandable UPS would be concerned about this, but I’m confident we can take care of their concerns.”

As to whether the task force could resume participation with the HIDTA program, Brown said:  “If they come back to us with a proposal and are back to work, we would consider funding it again.

“We’re just waiting for the dust to settle,” he said. “I don’t know what the future holds for it.”

Reporter Beth Warren can be reached at (502) 582-7164 or bwarren@courier-journal.com.

CONTINUE READING…

It was the world’s largest company coal town. As it turns 100, it fights to stay alive.


 

Lynch resident Mike O’Bradovich talks about the 100th birthday of the historic Harlan County coal town. Bill Estep bestep@herald-leader.com

By Bill Estep

bestep@herald-leader.com

LYNCH

The valley along Looney Creek in Harlan County was a wooded wilderness in 1917 when U.S. Steel, hungry for coal to make steel during World War I, bought 19,000 acres and set about creating the largest company-owned coal town in the world.

The company built an entire town from scratch — hundreds of houses, stores, schools, a hotel, a hospital, a baseball field, a fire station, water and power plants and industrial buildings, including a machine shop and the highest-capacity coal tipple anywhere.

Despite the buzz of work and grand intentions, some thought the town would be a flash in the pan.

The L&N Railroad refused to extend tracks to Lynch from Benham, a coal town about a mile away, because officials felt the town would die after the war when demand for steel went down, according to one history by a U.S. Steel official.

The company built its own tracks, and Lynch survived. The town at the foot of Kentucky’s highest peak, Black Mountain, turns 100 this year.

In that century, Lynch has mirrored the history of Eastern Kentucky as coal jobs swung up and down and families moved out to find work during hard times.

More than half the coal jobs in Eastern Kentucky have disappeared since a precipitous slide started in 2012. At the end of 2016, there were fewer miners on the job in all of Eastern Kentucky than there were at the U.S. Steel mines at Lynch at their peak.

The town’s population has declined to less than 800 from a peak of 10,000, and a third of the houses are vacant, according to U.S. Census figures.

Now, like the rest of the region, Lynch is looking for a new way forward. Residents are trying to promote tourism and small businesses to create jobs, and a study about the possibility of merging with two nearby towns is underway.

The challenges from an anemic economy and a declining tax base are steep, but many in Lynch have a fierce pride in the historic town and are determined to breathe new life into it.

A committee of volunteers is working to schedule events each month to mark the anniversary. On Jan. 1, local churches rang their bells for 100 seconds, and in February, residents put up red ribbons around town. The big event will be in September, with plans for a car show, vendors, family games and performances by several bands.

Residents also have set up a Facebook page where they are posting historic photos and trivia about the town’s past.

The hope is that the centennial will be a springboard for efforts to keep Lynch from withering away.

“The city was built by coal but it can be maintained by something else,” said Rev. Ronnie Hampton, a retired mine inspector who was the town’s first black mayor. “As long as we’ve got breath, we won’t give up.”

Coal companies built hundreds of towns in Southern Appalachia in the early 1900s. Many were thrown together with cookie-cutter houses, poor sanitation and few amenities.

A photo from July 1919 shows construction of mining and other facilities at Lynch, in Harlan County. The historic coal town turns 100 this year. Photo provided

Lynch, however, was considered a model town, with better-built houses of varying styles; health care better than that available to most people in the region; recreation opportunities that included lighted tennis courts, the baseball field, a bowling alley and dances at the hotel ballroom; paved streets; a sewage system; and a company commissary that was reputed to be the best department store in Eastern Kentucky, according to historians.

Italian immigrants used sandstone quarried from the nearby hills to build impressive public buildings.

“None of them rivaled Lynch,” James B. Goode, a retired community college professor who grew up in the neighboring coal town of Benham and has studied the history of Lynch, said of other coal towns.

The thought was that keeping miners content would enhance production and keep down problems.

‘A lot of fun here’

Lynch resident Irene Florek, who is 100, arrived in town with her family when she was a few months old. Her father had moved from a U.S. Steel coal town in West Virginia to work at the new Lynch mines.

Florek lived near the baseball field and remembers frequent activities including games and parades. One local history recounts that the company would close off the street to the hotel when it snowed so kids could go sledding.

“It was a lot of fun here at that time,” Florek said.

The company history recounts milestones from Lynch’s first 40 years, including a meningitis epidemic that hit the area in early 1936. U.S. Steel banned church services and public gatherings to try to limit the spread, and set up a temporary hospital.

Six of the 100 Lynch residents who got sick died, but the death rate was 80 percent or more in nearby communities, according to the company history, which attributed the relatively few deaths in town to the good medical care from company doctors.

In the Depression, people relied on gardens to help get by and the Red Cross gave out flour and other commodities, the history said.

Two miners ride a machine out of one of U.S. Steel’s mines at Lynch in the 1920s. Photo provided

Lynch was a classic melting pot of white people from the region, black people from the South and immigrants of more than 30 nationalities. In 1921, nearly 60 percent of the outgoing mail was to Europe, according to one history.

U.S. Steel recruited black workers from Alabama and other Southern states who were looking for better work than sharecropping, including some recruited from older mines in the Birmingham area.

The company also had recruiters at Ellis Island who used ship manifests to identify European immigrants with mining experience that they could hire, Goode said.

The first load of coal left Lynch in November 1917. By June of 1920, the Lynch mines employed 2,300 men and the population of the town had already reached 5,350, according to a company history.

“It was hustle and bustle here,” said Mike O’Bradovich, a first-generation American whose father came to Lynch from what became Yugoslavia and whose mother was from Germany.

O’Bradovich followed his father into the mines, working from 1974 to 2002.

The sense of pride many in Lynch felt was rooted in immigrants making their way in a new country, O’Bradovich said.

“The pride started when these people were coming over, becoming Americans,” he said.

Generations of black residents have maintained ties to Lynch through the Eastern Kentucky Social Club, which has chapters around the country and sponsors a Labor Day reunion each year, and through a homecoming to Lynch each Memorial Day.

When a former city clerk was charged in 2009 with stealing $137,000 from the city, leaving it strapped, the city council appointed Hampton to steer the city through the crisis.

Hampton sent letters to Eastern Kentucky Social Club members and former residents seeking help, which brought in thousands in donations.

Lynch was segregated until the 1960s. Black and white employees worked together in the mines, but black miners could not move up to supervisory positions until winning a lawsuit in the 1970s, and schools and entertainment were segregated.

There was racial violence directed at black residents in the Appalachian coalfields, especially in the early days, but there was a relatively high degree of harmony between the races at a personal level, historian Ron Eller wrote in his 1982 book “Miners, Millhands and Mountaineers: Industrialization of the American South 1880-1930.”

Whites and blacks in the mines had to rely on each other for their safety, and there were not major differences in pay or living conditions for miners of different races, Eller said.

When the schools integrated in the mid-1960s, U.S. Steel “made it seamless,” said Dwain Morrow, whose father, William Morrow, retired after working 40 years for the company.

‘Virtual reign of terror’

Labor relations were another matter.

Harlan County had some of the most widely reported labor clashes in the country between the world wars. Coal operators used control over the county’s economy and politicians to beat back organizing efforts, evicting union members from company houses, blacklisting them from getting jobs and paying the salaries of sheriff’s deputies who intimidated miners.

Lynch was not immune from the violence associated with those struggles that cemented the nickname “Bloody Harlan.”

There were shootings in Lynch, including one fight at the bathhouse in which two men died, Goode said.

“They didn’t hesitate to resort to violence,” he said of the union organizers and the coal companies.

U.S. Steel and other coal companies exerted authoritarian control over employees and the economic, political and social life in the county, John W. Hevener said in his 1978 account of the labor battles of the 1930s, “Which Side Are You On?”

When the United Mine Workers of America tried in 1935 to sign up members at U.S. Coal and Coke, the U.S. Steel division that operated Lynch, the company laid in a supply of tear gas and extra ammunition, barred organizers and followed union members and destroyed their literature, Hevener wrote.

A state commission later said that a “virtual reign of terror” existed in the county, financed by coal operators in collusion with public officials, and that miners had been evicted, beaten and mistreated.

Goode said U.S. Steel eventually accepted the UMW at Lynch in the late 1930s, deciding that the cost wouldn’t be onerous.

Pay and benefits for miners improved under the union, said William Morrow, 94, who lied about his age to go to work for U.S. Steel at 16.

“It made it better,” Morrow said.

By the late 1950s, mechanization had eliminated many miners’ jobs and railroads and factories switched to other fuel sources, reducing demand for coal.

Coal production hit a 50-year-low in Harlan County in 1960, and the county’s population dropped by nearly half between 1950 and 1970 as people left to find work, according to Census figures.

U.S. Steel and other companies, including International Harvester at neighboring Benham, decided it was too costly to maintain company-owned towns. They tore down many houses, sold others to residents, turned over schools to county districts and gave offices and other buildings to the towns, keeping only their mining operations.

U.S. Steel eventually ended its involvement in Lynch after more than six decades, selling its mines to Arch Coal in 1984.

These days, the city is living month to month financially and operates in the red at times, said Mayor John Adams.

“Getting by — that would be optimistic,” Adams said.

Arch stopped mining around town in the late 1980s, cutting a key source of revenue for the city from selling water to the mines.

Adams said the city needs more employees but can’t afford to hire. When both of its water-plant operators quit in January, the mayor pressed his sons into service to keep the plant going.

Untapped potential

But residents say Lynch also has assets to develop its tourism economy, including the beauty of the mountains, a fascinating history and its coal-camp houses and buildings.

Some of the original buildings in town are still in use, such as the hospital and a building that was a bank and post office, which now holds City Hall.

Kitty Dougoud, administrator of the Kentucky Main Street Program at the Kentucky Heritage Council, said she was not aware of a more intact coal town.

“The potential is there,” Dougoud said.

Neighboring Benham is home to the Kentucky Coal Museum in the renovated coal-company commissary and other historic buildings, including the School House Inn, which was a high school for decades beginning in the 1920s but was converted to a hotel.

Cumberland, Benham and Lynch have been designated as trail towns. They are working to develop hiking and horse trails, and Lynch has started work on a campground.

The city received a grant to renovate the old coal-camp fire station, which now houses Fire House Gifts and Crafts, and a Christian service organization called Meridzo Center Ministries financed the renovation of a building that housed a popular restaurant in the 1920s across from the portal of a mine in the center of town. The Lamp House Coffee shop is in the building now.

There has been interest for years in restoring more of the town’s old stone buildings, but not enough money to match the interest.

The town did receive financing to create a unique attraction at the Portal 31 exhibition mine. Visitors tour a restored section of an underground mine where workers produced more than 100 million tons of coal from 1917 to the early 1960s.

Recordings and animatronic displays tell the story of mining and the town over decades, covering technology, safety concerns, union organizing, and the rise and fall of Lynch.

‘Here to help people’

Residents say Meridzo also is a key resource for the town.

In addition to renovating the building for the coffee shop, the ministry operates a convenience store, a gym, a veterinary clinic, retreat centers and a stable in Harlan and Letcher counties.

Meridzo sees its mission as helping people with practical needs, including jobs, and in the process share the Gospel of Christ, said Lonnie Riley, who founded the ministry with his wife, Belinda, in 1999.

“We’re here to help people,” Riley said.

Meridzo is working to recruit a chiropractor, and has started a facility to grow shiitake mushrooms in sections of hardwood logs in the old bathhouse where miners cleaned up before going home.

There also is an effort underway to develop a customer-service center to provide jobs locally.

Betsy Shirey, who is developing the project, said her idea is a center where employees would field telephone calls and emails for other companies, and could provide other services, such as bookkeeping and marketing.

Shirey works for Humana, but after visiting Lynch on mission trips coordinated by Meridzo, she felt a spiritual calling to try to bring jobs to the area.

She can do her job from home, so she bought a house in Lynch and moved from Louisville.

Shirey said the lack of jobs in the area has helped create an attitude of entrenched hopelessness for many people.

“We’ve got to build up some infrastructure of meaningful work for people,” Shirey said.

Merger ahead?

Some think merging services for Lynch, Benham and Cumberland — or even merging local governments — would put all three on better footing.

The three lie end to end over a space of a few miles and have been known as the Tri-Cities for decades, but grew up as distinct places, with their own schools and competing sports teams, and have always maintained separate city services.

With all three stretched thin, however, their councils agreed to a merger study proposed by the Tri-City Chamber of Commerce, which said in its application for a grant that with declining populations and tax bases, the three towns “have struggled mightily in their efforts to maintain basic services to their citizens.”

The study will focus on how the towns could form one government, how services could be combined, potential savings and how layoffs would be handled if needed.

I really fear for their existence unless they are willing to come together and work as one.

W. Bruce Ayers, former president of Southeast Community and Technical College

W. Bruce Ayers, former president of Southeast Community and Technical College in Cumberland and head of the chamber, said many members believe merger is needed.

A merger would reduce costs, increase efficiency and give the unified city a better shot at government grants, Ayers said.

“I really fear for their existence unless they are willing to come together and work as one,” Ayers said.

It will probably be next year before the study is done and the towns have to decide on merging.

Even if they do, Lynch won’t lose its identity in its second century, said Mary Jo O’Bradovich, who with her husband Mike is involved in the centennial committee.

“After 100 years, I don’t think anyone is going to say, I am from the Tri-Cities,’” she said. “Lynch will be Lynch.”

Bill Estep: 606-678-4655, @billestep1

Kentucky house passes bill to create Bible literacy courses in schools


(Pixabay)

FRANKFORT, KY (AP)

The Kentucky House has passed legislation aimed at creating elective Bible literacy courses in public schools.

The bill would require the state Board of Education to establish policies for local school boards that choose to offer elective social studies courses on the Hebrew texts and New Testament.

The measure passed the House on an 80-14 vote Thursday and now goes to the Senate.

Rep. DJ Johnson of Owensboro, the bill’s sponsor, said the Bible is the “single-most impactful literary document” in western civilization.

The bill’s opponents said it intrudes on the principles separating church and state by sanctioning one faith.

Under the bill, Bible literacy would be an optional course for public school students, with curriculum set by Kentucky’s Board of Education.

The legislation is House Bill 128.

CONTINUE READING…

http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/17RS/HB128.htm

“Our lives matter just as much as anybody’s. …


Chief removes Punisher emblem, ‘Blue Lives Matter’ from police cars after public reacts

The Catlettsburg Police Department installed the decals on eight vehicles in December.

By Fernando Alfonso III

falfonso@herald-leader.com

Catlettsburg

An Eastern Kentucky police chief has removed large decals with the Punisher skull and “Blue Lives Matter” from eight police cars after a backlash following the publication of a Herald-Leader story.

The Catlettsburg Police department, which employs eight full-time and two part-time officers for a population of about 2,500, featured the images on the hoods of its 2013 and 2017 Ford Interceptor sedans and sport-utility vehicles, assistant police chief Gerry Hatzel said. The stylized skull was from “The Punisher” comic book series.

The vinyl decals featuring “Blue Lives Matter” and the Punisher logo were created in Louisiana and affixed to the Catlettsburg Police Department vehicles. Fernando Alfonso III falfonso@herald-leader.com

The logo was praised by local residents but raised questions among others in the commonwealth.

The designs were spearheaded by Police Chief Cameron Logan, who worked with a vinyl decal shop in Louisiana to get the decals printed. Logan installed the decals on all the police vehicles in December. He would not discuss how much the decals cost.

“That design is basically to give back to the police officers,” Logan, who has been with the department for 13 years, said before reversing course on the emblems. “Our lives matter just as much as anybody’s. … I’m not racist or anything like that, I’m not trying to stir anything up like that. I consider it to be a ‘warrior logo.’ Just ’cause it has ‘Blue Lives Matter’ on the hood, all lives matter. That decal represents that we will take any means necessary to keep our community safe.”

Overdoses and drug-related crimes have been on the rise, the chief said.

The city council and Mayor Randall Peterman approved the designs, Logan said. The Herald-Leader unsuccessfully sought comment from the mayor.

Richard “Andy” Brown, 37, who was elected to the six-person council after its vote on the decals, was critical of the decals.

“I don’t see why they’d waste the money, honestly,” said Brown, a Catlettsburg native whose family owns the IGA grocery in town. “My main objective is to make sure the taxpayers’ money is used in the most efficient way possible. It wasn’t expensive, but still. If it’s something they feel strongly about, they’re risking their lives and I understand that. I just think it’s a little bit strange. There’s been a lot of people mistreated by police, and their lives matter, too, like that guy in North Carolina.”

The shooting Brown referred to was of Keith Lamont Scott, 43, in September 2016 by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer.

Central to the decals was the Punisher, the nom de guerre of the Marvel anti-hero Frank Castle, a former Force Reconnaissance Marine and Vietnam War veteran who doles out justice “using torture, murder and kidnapping in his anti-crime crusade,” according to Time Magazine. The logo has been unofficially used by military units and was popularized in the award-winning film “American Sniper.”

The “Blue Lives Matter” movement unofficially began in December 2014 after two New York Police Department officers were shot and killed “by a fanatic who believed the lies of Black Lives Matter, the media, and politicians,” states Bluelivesmatter.blue, a media company founded by active and retired officers. The movement has since been embraced by President Donald Trump and has been used to describe a series of bills in Mississippi and Kentucky that would label crimes against police officers as hate crimes.

Kentucky’s “Blue Lives Matter” legislation is House Bill 14. The bill passed in Kentucky’s House on Feb. 13 after Donna Mayfield, R-Winchester, was called a racist by Black Lives Matter protesters angry over her support of the legislation. Louisiana became the first state to pass a “Blue Lives Matter” bill in May 2016.

Some Catlettsburg residents said they hope Kentucky is the next to formally embrace the “Blue Lives Matter” movement.

Daniel Ray, 63, grew up in Catlettsburg and said that respect for police has suffered nationwide.

“I think everybody should be out there supporting their police and their community,” Ray said. “They’re out there putting their lives on the line every day. They get little gratitude for that already, and when we have silly people who challenge them and wonder what’s going to happen, what do you expect is going to happen? We shouldn’t be challenging our police officers. We should be supporting them.”

That opinion was shared by Charles Allen, the pastor of Catlettsburg’s United Methodist Church. Allen has lived in Catlettsburg since 1968 and is originally from Michigan.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Allen said. “I think all lives matter. Nothing to do with color. Black lives, yellow lives, red lives, whatever color of your skin. To God, every human being has a soul and we matter to God and we matter to each other.”

Photos of the Catlettsburg police cars were positively featured on the Kentucky Going Blue’s Facebook page, but on Reddit’s Kentucky community, the response was more critical. Reddit users questioned the legality of the decals and suggested the Punisher was “a really poorly thought-out message for a law enforcement agency to be putting out there.”

Syracuse University’s Roy Gutterman, who also is director of the school’s Tully Center for Free Speech, said the Catlettsburg Police Department was within its rights to feature the decals, which are often “an ordinary governmental administrative decision.”

“Even though the slogan mimics the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, I would not say that ‘Blue Lives Matter’ necessarily demeans any other slogan that would subject the city to any other additional criticism,” Gutterman said.

Gutterman also said the department’s use of the Punisher could generate negative attention from the Walt Disney Co., which acquired Marvel Entertainment in December 2009 for $4.2 billion. Disney threatened legal action against a gun accessory manufacturer in Nov. 2015 for using its Punisher imagery. The city didn’t seek Disney’s approval, the chief said. Disney did not respond to a request for comment.

“If the department is using an actual comic book character, I suspect this usage is an infringement of intellectual property rights, specifically the copyright held by the creators or owners of that character,’ Gutterman said before the decals were removed Friday. “The appropriation of that image might be more troubling than whatever the character may stand for. They might as well put Batman or Superman on the cruisers while they’re at it.”

Fernando Alfonso III: 859-231-1324, @fernalfonso

CONTINUE READING…http://www.kentucky.com/news/state/article134722264.html