Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 1, 2013

In Your View

The Independent

ASHLAND — Approval of utility tax is premature

I just finished reading the story on the utility tax for the Fairview Schools, and I had a few thoughts that might interest those involved.

First, let me say that I am not necessarily opposed to a utility tax. I was a board member for eight years, and fought for passage of it, the first time it went on the ballot. However, times are different. The economy is sagging and many people are struggling to make ends meet, which was not the case 15 years ago.

Before I support or oppose the tax, I would like the board to give us more information. In the story, I did not read where the added tax revenue from the upcoming Melody Mountain project was mentioned. This construction will add greatly to the school system’s tax base, as it did when Walmart, the surrounding restaurants, and strip mall were built.  This large amount of tax revenue for the district must be considered before adding new taxes to residents.

Taxpayers might agree to the tax if that new construction does not generate enough revenue, and they’re assured that the money would actually go to renovate the school, instead of being used for sports programs or purchasing property.  Also, it should be made public how many out of district students attend Fairview, which Westwood residents support with their tax dollars, and how many out of state students attend.

The district is not even paid by the state for students who do not live in Kentucky, so their education is paid 100 percent by Westwood tax dollars.

Once the numbers are out on the increased tax base from Melody Mountain, then the utility tax might be needed, but until then, it may be premature for the board to place that burden upon Westwood residents.

Ben Millard, Ashland

Lamenting loss of coke plant

I was surprised to read that Carrie Stambaugh’s story of Dec. 27 about the improvement in local air quality made no mention of the recent closing of the AK Steel Coke Plant.

We all like having cleaner air but many, particularly the younger among us, might not appreciate the price we have paid to get here.

For nearly 100 years, the coke plant was an economic engine, providing many very well-paying jobs directly, and indirectly through their local suppliers (of which there were many) and the trickle down to other local businesses and individuals. Yes, there was pollution from it, but it was mostly mitigated in the early 1970s. The people of Ashland tolerated the pollution in exchange for higher overall economic security and well being, and the overall raise in the quality of life.

Meeting the new standard will allow us to try to attract new business more easily, but our area would have been better served by preserving the bird in hand as having to chase after the two in the bush. If we haven’t passed the tipping point of cost versus benefits on getting that last few percentage points of pollution, we sure are on the edge.

Doug Crawford, Ashland

Fairview schools in good hands

I recently attended a talent program at Fairview Elementary with students performing.

I commend the faculty for a wonderful job well done. You could see the love these teachers have for their students and the pride they shared.

Becki Musick is to be complimented for her hard but loving work she put into this.

Fairview schools show love and respect for the students from elementary to high school. They are very fortunate to have the leadership of Bill Musick as superintendent. I know him personally and he truly loves the students.

Wayne Wilburn, Westwood

Blame EPA not Kentucky Power

I read with interest the opinion of The Independent on the closing of the Big Sandy power plant. I agree with The Independent on its overall view.

However, I must disagree with State Rep. Rocky Adkins. His disappointment is misplaced. The Big Sandy power plant was doing just fine and minding its own business while providing a necessary service to this region of the state as well as generating many good paying jobs. Then a non-elected agency of the federal government decided to get involved.

This agency has been the major cause of many American jobs to disappear or move overseas. That agency is the EPA. His disappointment should not be with Kentucky Power but with the federal government allowing the EPA to run roughshod over Kentucky businesses. He should also be disappointed in himself and his fellow elected officials in the state government for allowing the federal government to decide what is best for the state of Kentucky.

He could have put up a much more vigorous fight in defense of a vital source of power and employment. A business cannot be expected to just eat millions of dollars in costs just because a federal agency decides that this particular business is their next target for destruction. I’m disappointed Mr. Adkins, but not with Kentucky Power.  

Tim Hodges, Flatwoods


Phyllis Palin was great influence

I read with much interest the article in Sunday’s Independent (Dec. 29) about Phyllis Palin, so finely written by guest columnist W. Thomas Bunch.

Phyllis was the choral music director at Ashland High during the 1950s. Apparently there had never been a boys chorus until she arrived there in 1956, and she had no trouble getting recruits, given the fact that she was a beautiful young woman in her 20s.

She certainly had an impact on my musical interest when she chose me and three classmates — Mike Barber, Roger Broughton and Chuck Patterson — to form a boys quartet. She molded us into a group that won superior ratings in vocal music performance on both regional and state levels.

We were each offered music scholarships at Marshall University, which none of us accepted, and Phyllis Palin entertained the prospect of "going on the road" as our manager if we should decide to go professional. Again, none of us wanted music as a career, but the exposure to vocal harmony which she gave us provided a lifetime of musical appreciation and pleasure.

Mike Barber and I, along with two other friends, prolonged that interest well into our advanced age as we performed for years with the local jazz/easy-listening vocal group, Old Friends.

Bill Martin, Ashland