Whitewater or blackwater in E. Kentucky's future?

Contributing ColumnistMarch 30, 2014 

Larry Webster

The mountains were abuzz with prospect last week.

Emboldened by Vladimir Putin, Pike County prepared to annex Mud Creek away from the People's Republic of Floyd County, something government leaders in the latter county oppose because many of them had gotten elected by the votes of the dead in the cemeteries of Mud Creek.

But the people of Mud Creek speak the language of Pike County and our Wal-Mart is closer. So we will send two carloads of pocket deputies into Mud Creek, take Eula Hall hostage and hoist the Pike County flag — which is a picture of a lump of coal — over Teaberry and Grethel.

For those who don't know what a pocket deputy is, they are election-year sheriffs with large families but no Crown Victorias, no uniform and no training.

The other good news was that a few, but not many, of the members of the executive committee of Shaping Our Appalachian Region are actually from our region. Neither of the co-chairs is, of course. Both are from west of I-75.

We have one member from Winchester, one from Ashland, one from Somerset, one from Lexington, one who lives in Lexington but runs for office in my district, and one who has been living in Washington, D.C. That left very few spaces for coal operators, but we managed to jam one into the committee, a champion leveler.

There was simply no room for people any different from the people who got us into massive unemployment in the first place or who might be suspect liberals.

It may come down to levelers vs. revelers, whitewater vs. black water.

A 375 lb. giant from Elkhorn City named Tim Belcher, who competes with a guy from Martin County named Mickey McCoy for who has the most sense in the mountains, wants to use ecotourism, revelry, to boost our economy. But anything with "eco" in it makes a lot of people throw up.

These are the "Mine Every Lumpers," the levelers who prefer their water black, or orange, and who would have torn down every mountain with coal under it and filled every stream that runs through them with toxics, were it not for that stupid Barack Obama.

These are the people who killed the tanning-bed ban which was proposed in the legislature because tanning beds cause cancer. The levelers certainly don't want the legislature to start studying beds, tanning or stream, that cause cancer.

To attract ecotourists and their little yellow kayaks, we will need to camouflage what is left of the mountains and put dye into the water. Maybe we can paint scenes of nature on giant walls alongside the road like the one by the Lexington airport.

Maybe we can bring moose into the mountains to help the elk eat up our gardens. Introducing elk into a place where subsistence farming may be the best future is an idea right up there with kudzu.

The last good news was that there will be no tolls on the Mountain Parkway. We have had no trouble getting to Lexington and don't have toll change.

The only reason to widen the parkway is to help road builders. A person oughtn't to have to pay to go through Magoffin County.

Completely removing the Mountain Parkway would probably do more for economic development than widening it. Then our rich could not escape.

Reach Larry Webster, a Pikeville attorney, at websterlawrencer@bellsouth.net.

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