When Rocky Adkins speaks, eastern Kentucky listens. Gov. Andy Beshear’s senior adviser is constantly in the governor’s ear about this part of the commonwealth.
While in Greenup County and then Boyd County on Tuesday, Beshear said he frequents eastern Kentucky more than any other governor as a direct result of Adkins’ persistent passion.
Standing on the old courthouse steps in Catlettsburg, Beshear motioned to his head and then his feet as Adkins — an Elliott County native and a longtime legislator who represented northeastern Kentucky — reminded everyone he’s an eastern Kentuckian from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. Beshear’s heard that a time or two.
Adkins is a former opponent of Beshear’s when both appeared on the Democratic Primary ticket for governor in the last race, but he’s relished the role as his sidekick, so to speak. They’re a good duo for all of Kentucky, but especially eastern Kentucky.
The two were in Russell and then Boyd County’s seat to present checks for a multitude of purposes for both counties — and towns in the counties.
But Beshear and Adkins also had another big-picture message to deliver: Prosperity is on the horizon, they say, as the Kentucky economy is strengthening and the state is bouncing back from some tough bouts with COVID-19.
Adkins said Beshear cares about eastern Kentuckians, “and he wants to spread this prosperity that we’ve been talking about to every region of this state, especially a region of this state that has lost ... thousands of jobs; our railroad workers, our steelworkers that’s lost their jobs, and we are bound and determined to make sure eastern Kentucky rises once again to what our people have earned. ... We will not quit until that happens.”
According to Adkins, the governor’s office is working with the economic development cabinet daily regarding opportunities in eastern Kentucky, including showing industrial sites in the region.
“We are a proud people, and it infuriates me to see the depopulation of our region,” Adkins said. “This is America. This is America. Our region of Kentucky deserves that prosperity just like any other region around this world and in this country.”
Beshear said he’s never been more optimistic about Kentucky.
“Folks, we are on a roll,” he said, citing a $6 billion investment that will bring twin battery plants and produce 5,000 new jobs in Glendale.
“This state will be the electric battery producing capital of the United States,” he said.
Beshear said the effect will be felt across the commonwealth, including in eastern Kentucky.
Beshear and Adkins certainly said all the right things in a pep-rally-type setting in Catlettsburg on Tuesday. So far, their actions have backed up their speech. We think the success will continue under the leadership of this duo.