Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


January 10, 2014

A Promise Zone

Obama program could build on recent SOAR conference

ASHLAND — Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson flew to eastern Kentucky to declare his War on Poverty. That led to the flow of millions of dollars into this regin with the expressed purpose of reducing poverty by attacking the root causes of it.

This week another president from the Democratic Party — Barack Obama — declared an eight-county region in southeastern Kentucky a “Promise Zone,” the latest presidential effort to tackle poverty in targeted areas.

Here’s hoping President Obama’s efforts to eliminate poverty in this region are more successful than LBJ’s War on Poverty. While this region certainly has much better highways and a greatly improved infrastructure than it did in 1964, poverty still remains a serious problem that threatens to get much worse with the loss of hundreds of high-paying coal mining jobs that many area residents blame on the policies promoted by President Obama. That’s surely one reason why this president did not follow the lead of President Johnson by coming to Appalachian Kentucky to announce his new anti-poverty program.

The eight southeastern Kentucky counties that form a Promise Zone are Bell, Clay, Harlan, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, Perry and Whitley.

The Promise Zone in Kentucky is one of five President Obama has announced, The other four are in San Antonio, Texas; Philadelphia; Los Angeles; and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. All except the Promise Zones in Kentucky and Oklahoma are in urban areas with different causes of poverty than rural areas.

“I’m pleased the administration has decided to grant eastern Kentucky the Promise Zone designation it deserves,” U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell said in a statement Wednesday. “I wrote a letter last year supporting this designation because this region has suffered enormous economic hardship over the last several years. Thousands of jobs have been lost and economic opportunity is extremely limited, particularly because of this administration’s hostile policies toward the coal industry.”

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear also wrote a letter supporting Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp.’s application for the program.

“As we know, there is no single solution to the many challenges facing eastern Kentucky; rather, any meaningful plan will require a broad combination of efforts to transform the economy of this region,” Beshear said in a statement. “The Promise Zone is a very exciting and important component of that path for success that will make an accelerated positive impact on the future of Appalachia.”

The announcement of the eastern Kentucky Promise Zone comes just weeks after more than 1,500 area leaders gathered in Pikeville for the first Save Our Appalachian Region conference organized by U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers and Beshear. Just as a governor, a Democrat and Rogers, a Republican who is dean of Kentucky’s congressional delegation, were able to put aside their political differences to organize SOAR, maybe leaders from both parties can work together to help the Promise Zone initiative succeed.

McConnell could not resist taking a dig at President Obama’s coal policies in praising of the Promise Zone in Kentucky. However, we don’t think coal represents the best promise for brighter economic times in this region. Instead, we think it will be what the Promise Zone does to promote a stronger regional economy far less dependent on coal.

Text Only
  • Positive trend

    For those adults who have a low opinion of American teenagers, Uncle Sam’s latest study of worrisome behavior among teens provides some good news: Teens are smoking less, drinking less and fighting less. Most forms of drug use, weapons use and risky sex also are declining — and have been since 1991, the year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first started surveying teens about  their behavior.

    July 24, 2014

  • Research's value

    In pushing for a higher education reform bill in the late 1990s, former Gov. Paul Patton set an ambitious goal of having the University of Kentucky become a Top 20 research university by 2020. UK has yet to accomplish that goal, but UK and the University of Louisville both have made great advances in research in recent years.

    July 24, 2014

  • Deadline is near

    People with Kentucky driver’s licenses may soon be required to show a passport or some other accepted form of federal identification to enter “restricted” or “semi-restricted” areas of federal facilities, including federal courthouses, military bases, federal prisons and a wide range of other federal offices.

    July 23, 2014

  • Issue is safety

    The Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s Board of Control has recommended softball  “players at first base, third base and pitcher utilize the permissive requirement in the playing rules and wear face/head protection.”

    July 23, 2014

  • More difficult

    In a state like Kentucky with the number of adults who have not graduated from high school is much higher than the national average, undereducated adults have been encouraged to earn high-school equivalency degrees by studying for, taking and passing the General Educational Development (GED) test.

    May 22, 2014

  • Primary election sends messages

    The voters — or at least the minority who took the time to go to the polls Tuesday — have spoken, with Boyd County voters sending mixed messages in the county-wide races that gathered the most attention.

    May 21, 2014

  • Click it or Ticket

    "Click it or Ticket” is a phrase used so often in recent years most of us hardly give it a thought.

    May 21, 2014

  • Top trooper

    Thumbs up to Trooper First Class Shane Goodall of Flatwoods for being named 2013 Trooper of the Year for Kentucky.

    May 20, 2014

  • 05/18/2014 — This Week in the Tri-State

    Local news

    May 18, 2014

  • 0518greene.jpeg Greene-Lounsberry

    John and Eva Greene of Greenup are proud to announce the engagement of their daughter, Stacey Nicole Greene, to Jonathan Wesley Lounsberry.

    May 18, 2014 1 Photo