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Darts and Laurels

Laurel: Kudos to Johnson County Sheriff’s Deputy Terry Tussey for making the connection that linked the vehicle robberies at the Cross Creek subdivision in Staffordsville to two arrests in Portsmouth, Ohio on similar charges during a multi-state crime spree. Tussey went above and beyond the call of duty to link our crimes to the suspects in custody.

Laurel: The community lost Fran Jarrell, chairwoman of the Paintsville/Johnson County Chamber of Commerce last week, after Jarrell passed away from a heart attack. A long-time champion of economic development, her tireless work with businesses ensures that any successor has a sterling legacy to work with.

Laurel: Paintsville Police arresting two individuals Monday evening on charges of first-degree methamphetamine trafficking and possession of drug paraphernalia that includes $5,300 in cash. The bust is a good step in the right direction but we’ve got a lot of work left. We do appreciate, however, the hard work of law enforcement in stemming the tide of illegal drug sales.

Laurel: The outpouring of local support for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas shows that our hearts are as big as the Lone Star state. However, anyone offering donations should check to ensure that they are working with a legitimate rescue or charitable organization to help with rescue and recovery efforts.

Laurel: Congratulations to new Paintsville City Councilman David Vanhoose, who was selected by the council to fill the seat vacated by Justin Lewandoski on Wednesday. This is the second time Vanhoose has sat on the council, so we are hopeful his previous experience helps him in his duties.

Darts and Laurels

Laurel: The 2017 Great American Eclipse was a great opportunity to take a step back from our normal lives and share an experience that transcends circumstances. For several minutes, the whole country came together to pause and marvel at the celestial event.

Dart: We’re starting to get an idea of the scale of the drug epidemic here in Johnson County, as two more people were charged with trafficking of methamphetamine and other prescription medication on Aug. 23. Law enforcement is doing a good job keeping up the pace of catching dealers and getting these drugs off the streets.

Laurel: The spirit of commerce is alive and well with two new businesses opening doors here in Johnson County. Ollie’s Bargain Outlet next to Big Sandy Superstore will open doors on Sept. 6 and O’Reilly Auto Parts off Ky. Rt. 321, opens this weekend. We are optimistic that this is the start of a good trend for economic development.

Dart: The Kentucky Public Service Commission (KPSC) denied the request of Community Action Kentucky to represent low-income residents in the rate case file this year by Kentucky Power. We understand the technical issues with the decision, however, believe the KPSC should make every effort to ensure low-income families in the area are fully represented in the matter.

Laurel: What started as a theft followed by a high-speed chase which ended with a crash in August 2016, ended recently as three Martin County residents were sentenced in Johnson County Circuit Court for their crimes. It is good to see the wheels of justice in motion and we hope to bring you more stories like this in the future.


There’s only one, and that’s a shame

The Kentucky Arts Council has honored 350 artists from Kentucky in its prestigious Kentucky Crafted program, but Appalachian Newspapers learned last week that only one — only one — of those artists is from Floyd, Pike, Johnson and Perry counties.
That is a shame, because we know there are plenty of unique and talented artists and craftsmen living in these Eastern Kentucky counties. It’s a shame because we now know that their talent is not being supported and marketed by this wonderful, taxpayer-backed program that Kentucky offers all of its residents.
Kentucky Crafted gives artists numerous opportunities, including the inclusion in an online artists directory, networking events and even business training. The perception of what these artists have to offer is also boosted because they can use the Kentucky Crafted logo on their merchandise tags.
When asked why so few Eastern Kentucky artists are part of Kentucky Crafted, Dave Blevins, marketing director for the Kentucky Arts Council, said he believes the cost of travel is a “big hurdle.”
“I think the big hurdle with SE KY is the travel—as part of the jury process artists must bring their work to Frankfort to be viewed in person and that keeps a lot of folks away,” Blevins wrote in an email to the Floyd County Chronicle and Times. “We have the same issue with the far western part of the state.”
Residents of Eastern Kentucky, with its rural communities and winding roads, know that excuse all too well. That excuse, however, is not sufficient to explain the lack of inclusion of Eastern Kentucky artists.
The state budget earmarked $2.6 million to Kentucky Arts Council last year —a bit less than the previous budget — and it uses those funds for numerous programs it offers. It has, in the past, held art events and offered funding and trainings in Eastern Kentucky, and is planning to hold an event in Pikeville this month to recruit more Kentucky Crafted artists from this region.
That effort should be commended, but more needs to be done to ensure that Eastern Kentucky artists have the same opportunities of those located near the arts council’s headquarters in Frankfort.
The council should use some of its funds to bring the Kentucky Crafted judges to Eastern Kentucky and other areas of the state that have these transportation “hurdles” Blevins was talking about. Surely, it wouldn’t cost all that much to bring those judges here once a year to see what we have to offer in this neck of the woods.
According to the arts council website, “The purpose of the Kentucky Crafted Program is to support professional visual and craft artists and promote a diverse selection of high quality art in Kentucky.”
Not finding ways to include Eastern Kentucky artisans in the Kentucky Crafted program doesn’t just slap Eastern Kentuckians in the face. It hurts the whole state because they don’t get to see or be inspired by the work our fine artists and craftsmen are creating.
Last year, the Kentucky Arts Council hosted trainings in Floyd and Johnson counties to teach artists how to use Etsy to sell their artwork online. How much easier would it be for those artists to sell their work on Etsy if it was honored as part of Kentucky Crafted?
Yes, the Kentucky Arts Council is an important part of the fabric in this great state and its work is needed and worthy of accolades. But knowing that officials there have identified a “big hurdle” for a such large, talented chunk of the population — and yet have not specifically addressed it — exemplifies yet another way in which Eastern Kentucky residents have been overlooked and left behind.
It’s a shame, a sad shame at that.

Darts and Laurels

Laurel: Congratulations to the Paintsville Police Department for making one of the largest methamphetamine bust in recent history on Thursday morning. Police seized 1,000 grams of the controlled substance with an estimated street value of $75,000 to $100,000. This is a great step toward getting a handle on the drug epidemic…

Dart: …However, it is a shame that our law enforcement officers have to risk their lives battling this epidemic. We are concerned about the sheer range of drugs coming into the area and how easy it seems to be for addicts to get them.

Laurel: Kudos to Bill Holbrook, new Kentucky State Trooper and former Paintsville Police chief. Holbrook left his position in Paintsville with the support of family and friends to persuse his life-long dream of becoming a KSP Trooper and graduated from the KSP Academy in Frankfort on Aug. 11.

Laurel: The Big Sandy Regional Airport held the 16th Annual Airport Day on Saturday with the support of the Johnson County Jeep Club and East Kentucky Gearheads. The event, designed to promote aviation in Eastern Kentucky, gave attendees the chance to get up close and personal with aircraft, and kids the opportunity to take a plane ride. This is a great way to fire up imaginations and support the development of the aviation industry in the region.

Laurel: Kudos to Alisa and Bob Gound of Paintsville for the work they have done through Soul Food, a non-profit organization they started in 2014. Last week they held an online dessert auction and raised enough to feed 11 more hungry children over weekends throughout the 2017-2018 school year. What a great way to help solve an age-old problem.


Building better businesses for Johnson County

An influx of new businesses is an exciting event in our area known for lack of opportunity, with the sale of the Mayo Plaza, there is a lot of potential for new jobs and new businesses within the county limits.
However, the emergence of these new businesses is just one way to help the economic growth of our community. To support them, we as a community also need to keep in mind that these new places need our support and encouragement and are not just a place for employment. We want them to become a part of our community rather than just a place to work.
With the decline of the coal industry in this area, the number of high-paying jobs has gone with it, and as a result, our community has suffered. These businesses are an important part of supplying much-needed jobs to the community. And while the high-paying coal jobs are gone, these jobs are a great start to help rebuild the community. Instead we need to build with the businesses as a better way forward.
The best way of doing this is through regulatory support through our local county and city governments, through community support getting the word out about these new businesses and helping get the right people hired to help grow their business, and through commercial support by using these new businesses to grow our own.
Another method for rebuilding the economy would be to embrace the industries from out-of-town, while also looking at other options like tourism to help rebuild the economy. While it is nice to see them agree that Johnson County is a great place to live and work, we, as a community should also take the initiate to continue building up our own local businesses as well.
Fran Jarrell, current president of the Paintsville/Johnson County Chamber of Commerce is doing a good job courting these businesses and encouraging new business owners. However, she needs all the help she can get and we need to be the ones doing it. Rather than complaining about having to go out of town on weekends to places like Ashland or Lexington, maybe we should be taking a harder look at what kinds of businesses we are seeking out while there and consider opening the doors to business doing the same thing here. Food, entertainment, shopping – these are all industries that can grow here with the proper encouragement.
So as these new businesses come into the area, and rumors start flying about what businesses are moving into town, let’s all take a look at what is drawing them here and sweetening the deal with our own special flavor of hometown hospitality, rather than complaining that the jobs do not pay what work in the mines did, or that one business cannot replace an industry-wide loss of jobs. We, as a community, should bear in mind that in order for our county to become more attractive to higher-paying jobs, we must first have an active economy in place, and these businesses represent the first step towards that end.
With respect to former President John. F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your businesses can do for you, but what you can do for your businesses.”

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