ADDs best vehicle for bringing E. Ky. historic change
On Dec. 17, 2,000 Kentuckians promised to work together to create a vibrant future for Eastern Kentucky. I left the conference ready to Shape Our Appalachian Region. After reading the SOAR initiative final report, however, it is my opinion this initiative should be labeled SORA: Same Old Run Around.
Those industries that made a living on the periphery of coal and those that make a living "fixing Appalachia" are simply repackaging their initiatives, marshaling their political clout in Washington and Frankfort and creating a niche to ensure their piece of the pie is as large as possible.
If historic change is the goal, the first step should have been to engage the nine Area Development Districts in Eastern Kentucky.
They have been active in the region for over 50 years, despite being routinely marginalized and ignored by Frankfort. Comprised of county and city officials from the region and citizens active in their communities, they are already tasked to address issues on a regional level and have the staffs and infrastructure in place to increase their contributions.
Frankfort, Washington and business leaders know this, but such a diverse body whose agenda is to protect their communities is difficult to manipulate and control.
Go to kaedonline.org to learn more about the development districts and tell your representatives in Frankfort and Washington to work with them instead of around them. Local community leaders should have their hands on the steering wheel.
UK guts graduate school
The University of Kentucky has quietly stepped up its war on graduate education for the upcoming year.
Although it has not yet been publicly announced, funding for in-state graduate tuition has been cut by 20 percent.
Coming on the heels of deep declines in fellowship support for the current year, it appears that UK sees little value in graduate education.
However, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Ph.D. employment (2012) indicate that Ph.D. credentialed employees have an unemployment rate of 2.5 percent and earn salaries about 60 percent higher than those of undergraduate degree holders.
Is gutting graduate education good for Kentucky?
Lighten up on blackface
I do my best never to turn on the television or read the silly newspapers and magazines, as it is all propaganda at best, evil at worst.
However, when liberals yet again attacked the good Rev. Jeff Fugate, this time making Joe Pickens the target, I felt a responsibility to read Lexington's local espouser of propaganda and liberal ideology.
Predictably, there was an article attacking Pickens about something liberals have made up called "blackface act," and a typical Merlene Davis column dividing blacks and whites further. This is too easy.
When the good pastor was attacked by this same crowd because of his unapologetic preaching at the baseball stadium several years ago, he became my ally and I subsequently found Jesus and was saved. Sometimes the devil does your work for you, I told him.
Would somebody please tell me why all the hoopla — by white liberals by the way — about Pickens imitating Mr. T? Should I be upset, as a fat bald man, that Curly was also in attendance? Lighten up people and get a life. The new bumper sticker for the month should say "Stop Global Whining."
Smoke-free right for Ky.
It is time for the legislature to do something for the fine people of the commonwealth. Pass the smoking bill and protect small children forced to breathe toxic air. Protect non-smokers from breathing contaminated air at work and in other public places. This problem will not go away on its own.
People should not be forced to pass through the sickening stench in the air when entering a restaurant or mall. I don't know how any of our lawmakers could not endorse this legislation. After all, they have given themselves the right to a smoke-free workplace. The businesses in limbo on this issue will continue to allow the majority to suffer because of the few who smoke. Signs don't do it. Hospitals had to force smoking off their campuses; in the beginning people continued lighting up with no regard to the signs.
Making it law gives the ban teeth. In the end more people will quit smoking and save themselves small fortunes. They and their children will be happier, healthier and richer. Do the right thing. Make Kentucky smoke free.
Property rights at risk
As distraught landowners along the proposed route for the Bluegrass hazardous liquids pipeline, we were dismayed to find stakes on our property Feb. 16.
On two occasions, we have adamantly told pipeline reps that we said "No" to the pipeline and did not want them on our property.
Our 41-acre property in southern Nelson County is invaluable to us as our philosophy is to protect nature and the woods.
We built our log cabin by hand with family and friends. We hike in our woods and gather rose hips for tea, look at flowers — including a very rare yellow ladies slipper — listen to the song of the whippoorwills, learn to identify wildflowers and trees, and appreciate the beauty of nature.
Please call the legislative hotline at 1-800- 372-7181 and ask for lawmakers to support House Bill 31 and Senate Bill 14. These bills will clarify the eminent domain law with respect to the pipeline and future pipelines.
The property rights of Kentuckians are at stake. Eminent domain should only be invoked for public utilities or a project that is clearly for the public benefit.
Rep. David Floyd underscored the importance of this legislation: "The issue is more serious than my backyard. The issue is the private property rights of every citizen of this state."
Larry and Frances Strange
Ky. needs medical cannabis
I support the Cannabis Compassion Act now before the legislature.
In 5,000 years of recorded history, cannabis has proven to be a harmless medicinal herb. No deaths or overdoses. Its addiction potential is equal to caffeine, withdrawal risks equally benign.
A government study proved it is not a gateway drug. In fact, it is successfully used to help addicts withdraw from harder drugs.
Cannabis can be ingested without a high: juicing, creams, oils. It has almost no side effects, zero dangerous ones. In contrast, pharmaceuticals like morphine always produce a high, are powerfully addictive with a long list of dangerous side-effects, including death.
These are facts confirmed by science and worldwide studies. Over 80 percent of Kentuckians approve of medical cannabis.
The revenue potential is huge. Arizona sees a $7 million surplus yearly without even taxing the herb. Medical cannabis is legal in 20 states; 15 other states are passing bills now.
Thousands of Kentuckians are desperately ill with cancer, PTSD, MS, auto-immune disease, epilepsy, diabetes, arthritis, bipolar disorder and life-altering pain. We have at our fingertips a harmless medicinal herb that heals and treats these afflictions and more.
Kentucky's Cannabis Compassion Act is well crafted, balancing patient needs with regulatory oversight. Help your representatives do the right thing. Call 800-372-7181 and leave a message that you want medical cannabis legalized now. (The operator can identify your representative based on your address.)
Who will plant trees?
Lexington is woefully lacking in tree canopy, according to a study, citing that Lexington is "just shy of the national average."
There appears to be no feeling here that trees are a treasured resource. In fact, it's never a surprise to hear that mature trees are being removed to make room for developments or roads.
The utilities company seems to have carte blanche with lopping off tree tops and tearing out trees and vegetation without replacing them. The school system seems to think nothing of destroying old trees that have provided shade and windbreak, for a simple matter of erecting a fence.
There's no comprehensive plan to bring the tree canopy up to the standard of, say, Cincinnati.
We have a city arborist, we have a tree board, we have a corridors committee, we have a city tree ordinance. But all those things are worthless if there's no action to increase the tree population.
It takes a couple years to build a development, but it takes decades to grow a tree to its full potential. We're told that Lexington faces a diminishing canopy in the future — what is the city waiting for to take action ? Which mayoral candidate will have the courage to declare tree planting a priority for the city?
Averted eyes send message
Due to unfortunate circumstances I now find myself in a wheelchair. It has been a learning experience, mostly about patience.
But what I have noticed most is the human response. When you avert your eyes, we get it. We are different. When you stop mid-stride to stare, we get it. We're different.
But we are not different. Our way of living may be different, but our life is not.
We are not asking for you to stop and have a discourse on politics or wax poetic about the weather. Just a smile as you go by. A "Hey, how are ya?" A nod of acknowledgement.
Sadly, what I have found is I have begun to avert my eyes just so I won't know you averted yours.
A smile costs no money and no time. I promise. We will smile back.