Mountain Parkway extension makes sense, is 40 years overdue
As the consultant who has been working with community leaders in Pikeville to establish Eastern Kentucky's first-ever commercial air service, I also recognize the value that a superior road system can bring to the region.
This is why I found the Herald-Leader's Jan. 2 editorial, "4-lane plan for parkway must be fully vetted," so surprising.
Gov. Steve Beshear is to be commended for committing $754 million to upgrade and complete the Mountain Parkway to U.S. 23 — work that should have been done 40 years ago. In fact, I would recommend a couple of additional measures:
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Upgrade the Mountain Parkway to interstate standards and seek interstate designation from I-64 to U.S. 23,
Upgrade the Hal Rogers Parkway to interstate standards, and extend it also to U.S. 23 and seek interstate designation (either I-66 or I-575).
Similar work is underway in Western Kentucky along the Pennyrile, Purchase and Western Kentucky Parkways (which will become part of the future I-69).
Kentucky cities such as Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, Owensboro and Somerset have long benefited by being part of Kentucky's four-lane parkway system.
Bringing the interstate highway system to the mountains should be a cornerstone of the SOAR strategic planning process which is under way in Eastern Kentucky, and will help to create new manufacturing and tourism jobs.
Yes, $754 million is a lot of money; however, it is an investment which should be made sooner rather than later.Luke B. Schmidt
Fix local roads first
The Jan. 26 editorial asked some good questions about the proposal to spend $754 million to "finish" the Mountain Parkway.
Maybe when Gov. Steve Beshear was in Pikeville, someone should've taken him off U.S. 23 to some holler roads so he can see the lack of infrastructure residents have to deal with daily.
Maybe someone could present to him all the missed school days — and for an area riddled with poverty that means children are going hungry — because roads are so terrible they can't be cleared and school buses can't travel them.
Maybe Beshear would like to talk to me about the family friend who died before an ambulance traveling the holler roads could reach him.
Hopefully, after presented with all that, he would take that money and use it to expand and improve internal infrastructure so at the very least children could make it to school and sick people could make it to the hospital rather than worrying about all the outside travelers who don't seem all that eager to help improve Appalachia that much anyway.
Praise for professional journalism
Ramsey's Diners closed its High Street Restaurant to relocate. We did so because of the condition of the existing building.
Word got out and I received several calls from Herald-Leader reporters and another local publication.
It was my intention to close between Jan. 21 and 27 and I told your reporters I would respond on Monday the 20th.
On Saturday, Jan. 18, the other publication, based on gossip and hearsay, published that we would close the 21st. Then local TV picked it up and said we would close on the 20th.
Customers and employees took this as gospel (after all it was on the Internet) and forced me to make the decision to close earlier than I wished, to avoid more confusion.
Your reporters published nothing until they had confirmation from me on that Monday. Your newspaper showed professionalism in its handling of the news item.
Had the other publisher required his employee to verify the facts, I would have had a much better opportunity to forewarn and thank my clientele.
McConnell can't fool us all the time
Sen. Mitch McConnell wants us to believe he is responsible for the cancer screenings and compensation for workers at the Paducah gaseous diffusion plant and other nuclear facilities.
But Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was the lead sponsor of the 2000 law benefitting workers suffering from radiation exposure.
McConnell wasn't the only politician to demand an investigation of the health hazards after The Washington Post published stories in 1999. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson ordered an investigation and Gov. Paul Patton named a task force to examine environmental damage.
Now the plant is shutting down and many workers are laid off. Good jobs are scarce. Yet McConnell is against long-term unemployment insurance and wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act.
President Abraham Lincoln famously observed, "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."
Jeffrey L. Wiggins
President, Western Kentucky Area Council AFL-CIO
Richmond MLK march disappointed
Last year, I participated in the Freedom March in Lexington on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I met with a group of people from First Presbyterian Church on that cold, windy morning, then we joined a huge crowd of people, including ministers and members of the other churches in the city.
The multi-racial composition of the marchers was energizing.
This year I decided to march in Richmond, where I live. The weather was beautiful, and I expected a very large group participating.
While nearly 200 people turned out, I was saddened and embarrassed because I was one of the few white marchers there. Most of those who did show were politicians, some of whom were running for office.
I was also disappointed that we marched on only secondary streets instead of down Main Street.
The Christmas Parade and Eastern Kentucky University's homecoming parade use Main Street. We should have, too.
The people and churches of Richmond missed this opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the principle King lived and died for.
Ronald D. Gosses
Thank you, Pete
Pete Seeger, who died Monday at age 97, did more than introduce me to the banjo. I still have his record and pamphlet from which I started to learn the instrument.
But I didn't realize until recently how much his life touched and shaped mine.
His passion for just causes inspired me to become a lawyer. His spirit of dissent encouraged my generation to get personally involved in things we believed in.
He opened hearts and changed minds to help end the war in Vietnam. Although he flirted with communism, he was really searching for democracy, community and social justice in the world.
Thanks, Pete, for your dedication to high principles, your enthusiasm for right behavior regardless of personal risk, your belief in the ultimate goodness of man's nature, your personal example of how to live your passion, and your willingness to invest yourself to champion the weak, the outcast and the unrepresented.
Retirees commend Beshear
The 2014 General Assembly has gotten off to a promising start in the critically important area of financing of public pensions.
As the Herald-Leader has thoroughly documented, the pension fund covering most state employees has for years been chronically underfunded, as money that should have been paid into it was diverted to other state needs.
The inevitable result was a huge unfunded liability and a serious cash-flow issue.
As part of widespread changes in the state pension program last year, Senate Bill 2 promised that the full employer contribution would be paid starting with the next fiscal year.
We were pleased to see that Gov, Steve Beshear's biennial budget request substantially fulfills that commitment.
The proposed budget devotes additional allocations not only for executive branch agencies, but also for many quasi-government agencies that participate in the Kentucky Employees Retirement System.
The Kentucky Government Retirees community on Facebook commends Beshear for his leadership and urges the General Assembly to pass the budget bill with full pension funding intact.
Snow and schools
Judging by the wretched condition of our streets over the past week or so, it appears that the city's snow and ice removal plan is "Pray for sunshine."
The weather cancelation policy for Fayette County schools is frustratingly unpredictable and illogical. On Jan. 6 and 7, schools were closed. Normally, this means activities are canceled as well. But basketball games proceeded as scheduled.
On Jan. 25, a Saturday, the school system canceled all activities, even those that the sponsors held despite the snow.
Teams from neighboring counties drove to Lexington to participate but the home teams were banned.
Perhaps FCPS could remember that ultimately parents are responsible for their children and let us determine what we want to do on non-school days.
The school board should also consider reimbursing every team that was forced to miss activities they paid for on Jan. 25.
Cancel spring break
So far this year Fayette County students have missed seven days of school due to winter weather.
The last day of school was originally May 28.
Now it is June 5.
An alternative option is to cancel spring break and President's Day. The last day of school would then be May 29.
Having seven days off this January has been very disruptive learning-wise for the teachers and students.
Eliminating spring break and President's Day will regain the educational momentum this year.
This is not without precedent. Last year, New Jersey public school students missed eight days due to Hurricane Sandy. The school districts canceled spring break (which coincided with Easter) and all other scheduled days off. No one complained.