Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

February 19, 2013

Documentary filmmaker looking at AK Steel coke plant

ASHLAND — Every day there is a little bit less of AK Steel’s coke plant in south Ashland.

An industrial demolition company is dismantling the plant piece by piece and trucking the pieces away for disposal or salvage.

Another once-bustling plant, doing the work that made 20th century America the world’s preeminent economic powerhouse, is disappearing from the landscape.

It is a process carried out over and over in industrial areas like the Tri-State, where smokestacks once belched fumes that fouled the air but smelled like money to blue-collar families.

Marsha Walker does not want that fact to go unnoticed. An Ashland native, she now is a writer and filmmaker in Denver, Colorado. She sees the closed coke plant, where her father worked for 35 years, as a symbol of the Ashland she once knew and a city facing an uncertain future.

One way to explore her own musings on the past and future is to document the demolition process and in the process talk to other people whose lives are bound to the plant.

“I’ve always thought of myself as a girl from a factory town. My father worked for a factory. It seems strange to have it disappear,” Walker said Monday, during a visit to Ashland.

What she wants to do about it make a documentary, not simply a film but a multi-media construct of stories, short films and pictures. It most likely would be web-based and would include interviews and stories about former plant workers and other locals.

“This is a piece of my past that is going to be completely obliterated. I wonder how others will feel about it,” she said.

The stories would look at the economic, psychological and environmental impact of the removal of a formerly vital piece of the Ashland landscape. Some would delve into the history of the plant and the steel industry in the region.

“Would,” Walker is careful to say, because there is no certainty the project ever will be completed. The documentary business is notoriously uncertain and underfunded; Walker has started to send out feelers for grant funding and has hopes she can recruit some collaborators. “Maybe we can find enough people to get an interesting project going,” she said.

Whether she will be able to get inside the gates for film of the demolition is unknown. Walker has contacted AK Steel; the company’s response has been so far noncommittal. On previous visits and on Monday she has been limited to taking photos and making observations from outside the chain-link fence guarding the property.

Her vantage point is a crumbling asphalt drive across a long-unused rail siding, between the gates and two former union halls. From her childhood, she remembers waiting outside the gate for her father to get off work.

From there she has noted the slow deconstruction of the plant.

Walker received her film training at Temple University, from which she holds a master of fine arts degree. She has taught screenwriting and film studies at Temple and has received story grants from the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women.

She has a website, openeyemovies.com, with contact information and is interested in hearing from former AK workers and others with insight about the plant.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • BREAKING: APD probes gun report near Blazer campus

    April 24, 2014

  • Judge denies renewed motion to dismiss Rosen lawsuit

    A judge has refused to dismiss a former Boyd district and circuit judge’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a law that affects his ability to run for re-election this fall.
    In an order entered on Friday, Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas D. Wingate denied a renewed motion to dismiss by current Boyd Circuit Judge George W. Davis III, an intervening respondent in the suit filed in January by Marc I. Rosen.

    April 23, 2014

  • Ashland football players join special-needs students for prom

    The purple chiffon gown and the sparkling tiara are back in the closet four days after the big dance, but Karina McBride still hasn’t stopped talking about Saturday night — the decorations, boys bringing her cups of punch, her first kiss (on the cheek, her mother hastens to interject), and dancing the night away at her first prom.
    “She’s been flying high since that night,” said Michele Woods, who is Karina’s mother and who brought together friends and volunteers to organize a prom for special needs students.

    April 23, 2014

  • Concrete pouring at Putnam

    Workers are pouring concrete foundations at Putnam Stadium and once those are dry and cured will be ready to install seats at the historic arena.
    The workers are putting in 12-hour shifts to keep on schedule to complete the stadium’s reconstruction in time for this fall’s football opener, said site supervisor Craig Chinn of Trace Creek Construction.
    The most visible work is happening on the home-team side of the stadium, where workers Tuesday were setting forms for the cylindrical concrete piers that will support the seats. Once those are poured, cured and inspected they will add the seats.

    April 23, 2014

  • Unique races for Carter magistrates

    Carter County magistrate ballots are full of candidates eager to represent constituents in each of the five districts that make up the county’s fiscal court.
     

    April 23, 2014

  • Martin County marks 50 years since LBJ visit

    Today marks 5o years since former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson visited Inez resident Tom Fletcher and promised to end poverty in America on April 24, 1964. On Friday, Inez will be commemorating the occasion with a special event.

    April 23, 2014

  • Trail Town trial run to be in Olive Hill this Sunday

    Olive Hill will participate in a trial run this Saturday in the city’s push to become a certified Kentucky Trail Town.

    April 23, 2014

  • Some area farmers may be eligible for LIP program

    The Grayson  Farm Service Agency, (Boyd, Carter, Elliott and Lawrence) is having registration for the Livestock Indemnity Program to eligible producers who suffered losses beginning Oct. 1, 2011, and subsequent years.

    April 23, 2014

  • News in brief, 04/24/14

    The King’s Daughters Pregancy and Infant Loss Support Group invites families who have experienced the loss of an infant during pregnancy or following birth to participate in a butterfly release and prayer ceremony at 2 p.m. May 10 at the Ashland Central Park fountain.

    April 23, 2014

  • Garner hosting National Day of Prayer activities

    The Garner Missionary Baptist Church will be hosting day long events at the Kyova Mall to commemorate the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 1.

    April 23, 2014

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP basketball
SEC Zone