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balancing the scales, June 10, 2013

Local Updates

Working toward a bright future in Harlan County

Harlan County KFTC members from Lynch to Loyall have been busy building toward better days in Harlan and beyond. This has already been a huge year for one of KFTC’s first chapters, located in eastern Kentucky. Besides hosting the three-day Appalachia’s Bright Future conference in April for more than 200 people from near and far, the chapter has seen local projects gain momentum and the chapter grow and grow. 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 the economy, opportunities, voting rights and more. In March, the Harlan chapter hosted the second annual Potluck on Pine Moun-

tain with the neighboring Letcher County chapter. There in Cumberland, more than 30 people gathered in the rain and snow to eat barbecue, hear local fiddle tunes, visit with one another, and plan for bigger and better days to come.  Now, 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. Currently, work is happening to upgrade doors, windows, and framing, as well as re-roof the Lynch sewer plant. 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.”   For the 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

The Rowan County KFTC Chapter is planning its biggest fundraising event of the year. For the third year in a row, the chapter will be the sole food provider for The Old Time Music Festival, which is held the last weekend of July at the Jaycee Farm near Morehead. As The Old Time Music’s website ( motmf/) notes, the festival offers “a unique display of the diverse cultures in the region of the Appalachian Mountains.” KFTC members who enjoy great music, fun workshops, beautiful natural

scenery, and delicious homemade food should plan on attending this familyfriendly event. In addition to fundraising efforts, the chapter is also pursuing a plan to develop a fairness ordinance for the city of Morehead. At the KFTC Rowan County meeting in May, Michael Aldridge, executive director of the Kentucky chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, gave a presentation regarding the fairness campaign. After the presentation and a question-and-answer session, Aldridge worked with the chapter to formulate strategies for success.

Rowan County members: tuned in to the needs of festival goers

Save The Date: 2013 Annual Meeting August 16-18 General Butler State Park

Josh May, Lauren Adams, and Heather Gross participated in a Youth workshop at the Appalachia’s Bright Future Conference. 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 of the event, “I’m pretty sure it has changed the course of my life.” The chapter has enjoyed all 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, helping to investigate a sudden fish kill in Catrons Creek, and exploring more countywide 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 their biggest challenge right now may be communicating out what they are able to accomplish when they 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- to 40-year-olds that we can do it!” The 2013 Harlan County chapter annual meeting was held on June 3 at Linda’s Bear Lodge in Putney. Members celebrated the year behind them and began to plan for the year ahead.

Rowan members took a break from cooking at the 2012 Old Time Music Festival.

June 2013 - balancing the scales  
June 2013 - balancing the scales  

This is the June 2013 edition of balancing the scales, the organizational newsletter of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth