New think tank will focus on planning E. Ky.'s future
Renowned author Alan Lakein said planning is bringing the future into the present so you can do something about it now. A similar approach must be taken for Eastern Kentucky. However, the region lacks a mechanism to assist it in taking a comprehensive approach to development.
One reason is the coalfields do not host a comprehensive research university which could assist with planning and potentially derive benefits similar to the way Central Kentucky does from the University of Kentucky.
The research and development capacity is dispersed, seldom coordinated and often not focused on the needs of communities and policymakers. This has led to less than desirable results.
The development of a regional think tank like the Central Appalachian Institute for Research & Development at Pikeville University provides an opportunity for the region to focus on planning its future.
Locating this institute among the highest concentration of impoverished counties in Appalachia will enable the area to gather the best and brightest minds to address systemic problems.
It is important to break down existing factionalism that has held back the region for generations and take a more regional approach to development.
It is our hope that CAIRD, collaborating with other Kentucky colleges and universities, would help lead a landmark study to finally answer the question raised in the May 15 editorial: Why does Eastern Kentucky remain worse off than other Appalachian areas?
Despite decades of work, it appears no one has been able to answer that question yet
Board member, Central Appalachian Institute for Research and Development
Give region help it needs
For 20 years there's been talk about what Eastern Kentucky is going to do when coal is gone. Well, there are lots of things we need, but waiting for us to do it when the ability hasn't been there doesn't cut it.
If we support the motto, "United we stand, divided we fall," then let the middle of the state act like it, instead of wanting to shut down what we do have.
Let those who rave put up or shut up. Let's get some factories, high-tech jobs and whatever else we need instead of waiting for a miserable end. We've got the roads and some more flat places. Promote both ends of the state like you do the middle.
There are a lot of guys who would like to do more than drive a coal truck. But the jobs aren't here, and it isn't my fault.
Ray E. Davis Jr.
Real fighter for children
From an intellectual perspective, you could not read the Herald Leader's news coverage or editorial and not be struck by David Richart's reach and his vision.
From a personal perspective, I remember David when I was a young principal in the mid-1970s and first encountered this whirling dervish from Kentucky Youth Advocates as he enlisted the aid of some reform-minded educators in banning corporal punishment.
We launched a hard-nosed campaign that failed miserably but David's imprint of strategy and zeal struck me deeply. Interestingly, KYA has re-launched efforts to ban corporal punishment, showing what David was wont to assert: Change takes persistence.
Recently, something else about David struck me even more deeply. Two revered child advocates remembered him literally jumping over hedges to chase down truant kids and corral them before they got into official trouble with the police.
Hedges play such a prominent role in scriptural accounts of those who protect the vulnerable amongst us, and that has become my take-away image of David. My image is not of legislation passed nor exposés made nor even the cages he rattled. Rather, it is hedges.
He sowed seeds to grow hedges of protection for kids through innovation and imagination. He tended those hedges through daily diligence. And yes, he hopped over, plowed through and went around other hedges with bravery and courage.
And his call is for each of us to keep planting and tending and hopping hedges to make a difference for Kentucky's young people this very day.
Executive director, Kentucky Youth Advocates
Rupp's poor crowd control
On May 14, my husband and I, along with friends, attended the sold-out Kenny Chesney concert at Rupp Arena. We arrived at 6:35 p.m. for the concert, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. When we reached the gate area, we were shocked to see thousands waiting to go through security checkpoints.
The number of checkpoints was woefully inadequate. Every person was asked to raise his or her jacket or top above the waist and turn completely around. I suppose this was done to make sure no alcohol was brought into the concert. But after standing for some time, it was clear that this should not have been a concern. It was evident that the majority of alcohol had been consumed before arriving.
The longer we stood, the more agitated people became. Some began pushing and shoving. Some screamed obscenities. It was extremely hot. I saw quite a few young children standing alongside concerned parents. All I could think of was the 1979 tragedy in Cincinnati where 11 people were trampled to death at a Who concert after an angry crowd stormed the gates.
Eventually at 7:35 p.m, with thousands of people still waiting, someone made a decision to forego the security and allow the patrons to enter. It was 7:45 when we finally made it safely to our seats, missing the first act.
In a facility the size of Rupp, there needs to be enough manpower to check a crowd of 24,000. There was definite crowd-management failure.
Mary Jo Wickelhaus
Will state see the light?
Tom Eblen's column, "Sun's getting closer to us," details encouraging initiatives several entities — both public and private — have taken to promote renewable energy technologies in Kentucky.
Eblen could have noted that the solar market alone surged from $3.6 billion in 2009 to $6 billion in 2010. Further, half of all solar energy companies, as of last August, had job openings.
Alas, and all too predictably, poor Kentucky significantly lags in providing sufficient incentives to entrepreneurial spirits to explore and develop renewable energy technologies. Rather, it cavalierly allows other states to make industrial breakthroughs in anticipation of future prosperity.
Would that the Mr. Magoos whom voters, no less short-sighted, regularly elect had visionary powers that could see just a teensy bit beyond the next two-year cycle of elections.
Rather, our politicos have comfortably accommodated themselves to feeling their way around Frankfort's corridors, content with being guided by the likes of the Kentucky Coal Association and the ilk it represents.
How appropriate that My Old Kentucky Home, with its brooding note of melancholy regret, is our state song. It is a note future generations are seemingly doomed to hear as they contemplate missed opportunities and their state's present economic, educational and environment health relative to more farsighted states guided by visionary leaders.
Help fund Arboretum garden for children
The new Children's Garden at the Arboretum is charging $3 a visit for children over 2 years old and $10 for families.
Yes, entertainment is costly, but are we not cutting off our nose to spite our face when we charge to visit Mother Nature? The new park is a wonderful way for families to learn together. What better way to fight crime and violence? We understand the pressures on city and state governments that necessitated withdrawal of continued funding. Nevertheless, the Arboretum remains under the auspices of the tax-supported university
Yes, competition for tax dollars is heightened and funds are low, but that is where Americans are usually creative and resilient. If UK is able to hire personnel at salaries approaching $4 million per year and accept funding to build Wildcat Coal Lodge, wherein lie the priorities? True, sports is separate from the university's operating budget, but something is basically wrong when people will pay millions to see sports events yet charge toddlers to learn in a creative outdoor ecological experience.
As a matter of fact, why doesn't the good coach consider making a donation to the Arboretum? Wouldn't that make as many friends as visiting coal miners and other folks in Eastern Kentucky? Better yet, why not do both?
This endeavor, and all the tireless effort of those who brought it to fruition, should not be available only to those who can pay for it. We need to support something positive and uplifting for a change.
Pat and Bill Barkley