Editorial: Watts going on
No one can deny that AEP is a great community partner. Each year they give away millions of dollars to local charities, schools, non-profits and economic development programs. They hire veterans, they help consumers use less energy and have decreased carbon dioxide emissions greatly.
Each year the power giant makes billions of dollars and they have a solid financial performance. They donate to places in Eastern Kentucky on a regular basis. Recently AEP announced that they gave away $400,000 to 12 Eastern Kentucky economic development projects in addition to another big donation to area schools.
In May 2017, they put out a bid request for Powder River Basin coal to be used at some of their generation sites. That request was their second request this year, which tells you they are still burning coal somewhere for the generation of electricity.
They have many programs designed to help consumers save money and use less energy. And that they like to hire veterans shows their commitment to help American heroes.
This all is consistent with the words from their president in 1934, George Tidd who said, “We are citizens of each community we serve and take an active part in its affairs. Like any other citizen, we want our neighbors to think well of us. Besides, it makes good business sense. We prosper only as a community prospers; so, we help it thrive in every way we can.”
That statement was profound and is still relevant today as they have kept true to that statement ever since. However, in 1934 no one could have predicted what may happen 83 years down the road.
The EPA shut down the coal industry forcing companies like AEP to use alternate fuel stock for their power generation. They converted to natural gas, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars, which was passed along to their customers. And since they are a public company they have shareholders to answer to for profitability.
In Kentucky, we have enjoyed the cheapest energy rates. And that’s partly because cheap coal offered an abundant amount of power for the end user, in turn cheap coal offered good profit margins that didn’t require massive rate hikes.
I would encourage the company to revisit the words of Mr. Tidd. If they are truly committed to be great community partners and want to invest in communities they serve, they may consider sacrificing a portion of their profits to do so. The consumer was hit with a fee to remove the coal towers that we will be paying for until the mid- 2020’s. That expense should have been theirs.
Some of the added charges and fees are part of what goes to the economic development projects, which we are truly lucky to have. AEP should supply each customer with a donation receipt so the customer can claim their portion of the fees they paid to AEP on their taxes.
AEP has done very great things and has been challenged to do some not-so-popular things. Former President Greg Pauley was extremely transparent in their decisions. He apologized for the pinch we all had to feel but he said that was part of doing business. I respect that openness.
I hope the investments that AEP is making in the communities in which they serve have a lasting effect. And I hope the end-result of those investments materializes quickly as the consumer has been beat up and is in need to reenergize their assurance.
Thanks for reading the Paintsville Herald.
Darts & Laurels
Laurel: The Veteran’s Referral Center hosted its 10th Annual Veteran’s Day Telethon Sunday, marking ten years of bringing the community together to help the veterans in our area – we are always thankful when a non-profit organization is able to affect a positive change in our area and continue to do so far after its inception.
Laurel: The Johnson County Fiscal Court voted to authorize reallocating some leftover coal severance funds Thursday, most of these funds will go to volunteer fire departments in the area that need new equipment. The remainder will go to the Johnson County Senior Citizens Center and help fund the services they provide, such as Meals on Wheels. This responsible use of coal severance money by the fiscal court provides maximum benefit to the county with these increasingly limited funds.
Laurel: The Johnson County Schools Board of Education recognized two of its employees at last month’s board meeting for their long careers of exemplary service to the school district. This is a good practice for any employer to take up – don’t only point out the negative in your employees, recognize when they do well or go above and beyond. It creates an atmosphere of positivity and empowerment.
Laurel: The Johnson County Middle School’s football team took home a state championship over the past week. This is a remarkable feat and goes to further show the sports dominance that Johnson County has maintained throughout the years through excellent coaching and determined players. Good job, Eagles!
Editorial: The link between fiscal responsibility and building a better tomorrow
As both public and private organizations ready themselves for the new fiscal year starting on Nov. 1, this is a good time to take a second look at budgets to see if projected expenditures are necessary in the face of expected revenues. When facing up to our fiscal responsibilities, it is smart to take the long-term approach.
We should take pride in our hard-won economic advancement over the past 15 years in the face of a declining coal industry. However, at the same time, our local budgets have been cut to the bone, and it becomes tempting to spend a little more, to take out a small loan, or to reach just beyond what can be afforded to reach a goal.
As a nation, we are slowly climbing out of an economic recession. However, as a county in one of the poorest areas of the country, we need to be far more careful with our limited resources. While we reach for the stars for a better future, we need to keep within our financial goals, even if it means taking a more patient approach.
Constructing and maintaining a fiscal budget is an important first step. The larger challenge, however, is to reform our expectations of how to pay for non-essential items and projects to the day-to-day operation of our local government programs.
Fiscal responsibility is essential to creating a better, stronger, more prosperous town for the next generation. The choices we make today — or fail to make -- will determine what kind of future our children and grandchildren inherit 20 and 40 years from now.
Our county’s economic future and fiscal responsibility are directly linked. There is a tie between budget deficits today and what our community can enjoy tomorrow. So while taking out an extra loan today may solve short-term problems, that is funding taken out of the hands of our future successors when they have to pay the bills.
Facing up to both the short and long-term fiscal challenges will help put us on a path to lasting prosperity and a rising standard of living.
Darts & Laurels
Laurel: Although no one likes having to raise taxes, the Johnson County Fiscal Court made a good call when they voted to accept the compensating rate for real and property taxes – raising it to 9.20 cents per $100 of assessed value. This 0.4 cent increase is the better option for Johnson County residents than the suggested four percent increase suggested by the Department of Local Governments. Thank you Fiscal Court for looking out for the community’s best interest. However let’s make sure it is invested wisely.
Laurel: Kudos go out to all the Johnson County students and first-responders who participated in the “Great American Shakeout 2017” on Thursday. While not common, earthquakes do occur in Kentucky and our proximity to several active faults in the New Madrid seismic zone make the annual disaster response exercise a good idea – just in case.
Laurel: The Paintsville City Council is taking the step to review The Kentucky Apple Festival vendor ordinance and other agreements with the Apple Board over some events that occurred during this year’s festival due to lack of communication. A better sense of agreement and communication between Apple Board volunteers and the city can only lead to a better festival for next year and those to come.
Laurel: Congratulations to Tommy McKenzie, former Johnson Central basketball player who returned to coach at the school for the past 14 years with great success, being named to the Alice Lloyd College Athletic Hall of Fame on Oct. 14. McKenzie has currently led the Golden Eagles to four 15th Regional Championship with one Elite Eight appearance, and seven 15th Regional title games. We are glad to have McKenzie as such an outstanding member of our community.
Editorial: Pints on Paint: Enjoy responsibly and support something new
The Mountains of Music/Pints on Paint that has been organized by the Paintsville/Johnson County Trail Town Committee to take place this Saturday, Oct. 20, seeks to offer something new to the citizens of Paintsville and Johnson County – it is imperative that those looking for something new and progressive in our area not overlook this event. It will need all of the support Johnson County and the surrounding areas can muster to succeed.
The festival will make use of many local breweries and artists of all walks with the express goal of providing something unique to the area, while fundraising for planned community projects that will bolster the burgeoning adventure tourism industry that several community members hope Johnson County can cash in on. This is an opportunity to support progress in our area, as a beer garden is something that has never been seen at a festival in Paintsville – and may never be seen again, if there is a lack of support, or worse, irresponsible consumption. The event is not a drinking party – it is a craft beer sampling event, and prospective samplers can get a wristband for $30 – a value that will include souvenir glasses, and a ticket for five 6-ounce beers, and have the opportunity to purchase a second ticket for $15. Designated drivers can enter for $10 and will receive free soft drinks.
The festival will feature several breweries, including Jarfly Brewing Company from Somerset, U.S. 23 Brewing Company from Prestonsburg, Goodwood Beer from Louisville, Kentucky Ale, West Sixth and Country Boy Brewing from Lexington and Rhinegeist, a brewer from Cincinatti.
In addition to the breweries and beer garden, there will be live music, arts and crafts for free, and busking is encouraged, so get involved. Get out in town, show off your own arts and crafts, listen to live music and support a new and exciting event in our little town, but remember to stay safe and act responsibly.