It was the world’s largest company coal town. As it turns 100, it fights to stay alive.


 

Lynch resident Mike O’Bradovich talks about the 100th birthday of the historic Harlan County coal town. Bill Estep bestep@herald-leader.com

By Bill Estep

bestep@herald-leader.com

LYNCH

The valley along Looney Creek in Harlan County was a wooded wilderness in 1917 when U.S. Steel, hungry for coal to make steel during World War I, bought 19,000 acres and set about creating the largest company-owned coal town in the world.

The company built an entire town from scratch — hundreds of houses, stores, schools, a hotel, a hospital, a baseball field, a fire station, water and power plants and industrial buildings, including a machine shop and the highest-capacity coal tipple anywhere.

Despite the buzz of work and grand intentions, some thought the town would be a flash in the pan.

The L&N Railroad refused to extend tracks to Lynch from Benham, a coal town about a mile away, because officials felt the town would die after the war when demand for steel went down, according to one history by a U.S. Steel official.

The company built its own tracks, and Lynch survived. The town at the foot of Kentucky’s highest peak, Black Mountain, turns 100 this year.

In that century, Lynch has mirrored the history of Eastern Kentucky as coal jobs swung up and down and families moved out to find work during hard times.

More than half the coal jobs in Eastern Kentucky have disappeared since a precipitous slide started in 2012. At the end of 2016, there were fewer miners on the job in all of Eastern Kentucky than there were at the U.S. Steel mines at Lynch at their peak.

The town’s population has declined to less than 800 from a peak of 10,000, and a third of the houses are vacant, according to U.S. Census figures.

Now, like the rest of the region, Lynch is looking for a new way forward. Residents are trying to promote tourism and small businesses to create jobs, and a study about the possibility of merging with two nearby towns is underway.

The challenges from an anemic economy and a declining tax base are steep, but many in Lynch have a fierce pride in the historic town and are determined to breathe new life into it.

A committee of volunteers is working to schedule events each month to mark the anniversary. On Jan. 1, local churches rang their bells for 100 seconds, and in February, residents put up red ribbons around town. The big event will be in September, with plans for a car show, vendors, family games and performances by several bands.

Residents also have set up a Facebook page where they are posting historic photos and trivia about the town’s past.

The hope is that the centennial will be a springboard for efforts to keep Lynch from withering away.

“The city was built by coal but it can be maintained by something else,” said Rev. Ronnie Hampton, a retired mine inspector who was the town’s first black mayor. “As long as we’ve got breath, we won’t give up.”

Coal companies built hundreds of towns in Southern Appalachia in the early 1900s. Many were thrown together with cookie-cutter houses, poor sanitation and few amenities.

A photo from July 1919 shows construction of mining and other facilities at Lynch, in Harlan County. The historic coal town turns 100 this year. Photo provided

Lynch, however, was considered a model town, with better-built houses of varying styles; health care better than that available to most people in the region; recreation opportunities that included lighted tennis courts, the baseball field, a bowling alley and dances at the hotel ballroom; paved streets; a sewage system; and a company commissary that was reputed to be the best department store in Eastern Kentucky, according to historians.

Italian immigrants used sandstone quarried from the nearby hills to build impressive public buildings.

“None of them rivaled Lynch,” James B. Goode, a retired community college professor who grew up in the neighboring coal town of Benham and has studied the history of Lynch, said of other coal towns.

The thought was that keeping miners content would enhance production and keep down problems.

‘A lot of fun here’

Lynch resident Irene Florek, who is 100, arrived in town with her family when she was a few months old. Her father had moved from a U.S. Steel coal town in West Virginia to work at the new Lynch mines.

Florek lived near the baseball field and remembers frequent activities including games and parades. One local history recounts that the company would close off the street to the hotel when it snowed so kids could go sledding.

“It was a lot of fun here at that time,” Florek said.

The company history recounts milestones from Lynch’s first 40 years, including a meningitis epidemic that hit the area in early 1936. U.S. Steel banned church services and public gatherings to try to limit the spread, and set up a temporary hospital.

Six of the 100 Lynch residents who got sick died, but the death rate was 80 percent or more in nearby communities, according to the company history, which attributed the relatively few deaths in town to the good medical care from company doctors.

In the Depression, people relied on gardens to help get by and the Red Cross gave out flour and other commodities, the history said.

Two miners ride a machine out of one of U.S. Steel’s mines at Lynch in the 1920s. Photo provided

Lynch was a classic melting pot of white people from the region, black people from the South and immigrants of more than 30 nationalities. In 1921, nearly 60 percent of the outgoing mail was to Europe, according to one history.

U.S. Steel recruited black workers from Alabama and other Southern states who were looking for better work than sharecropping, including some recruited from older mines in the Birmingham area.

The company also had recruiters at Ellis Island who used ship manifests to identify European immigrants with mining experience that they could hire, Goode said.

The first load of coal left Lynch in November 1917. By June of 1920, the Lynch mines employed 2,300 men and the population of the town had already reached 5,350, according to a company history.

“It was hustle and bustle here,” said Mike O’Bradovich, a first-generation American whose father came to Lynch from what became Yugoslavia and whose mother was from Germany.

O’Bradovich followed his father into the mines, working from 1974 to 2002.

The sense of pride many in Lynch felt was rooted in immigrants making their way in a new country, O’Bradovich said.

“The pride started when these people were coming over, becoming Americans,” he said.

Generations of black residents have maintained ties to Lynch through the Eastern Kentucky Social Club, which has chapters around the country and sponsors a Labor Day reunion each year, and through a homecoming to Lynch each Memorial Day.

When a former city clerk was charged in 2009 with stealing $137,000 from the city, leaving it strapped, the city council appointed Hampton to steer the city through the crisis.

Hampton sent letters to Eastern Kentucky Social Club members and former residents seeking help, which brought in thousands in donations.

Lynch was segregated until the 1960s. Black and white employees worked together in the mines, but black miners could not move up to supervisory positions until winning a lawsuit in the 1970s, and schools and entertainment were segregated.

There was racial violence directed at black residents in the Appalachian coalfields, especially in the early days, but there was a relatively high degree of harmony between the races at a personal level, historian Ron Eller wrote in his 1982 book “Miners, Millhands and Mountaineers: Industrialization of the American South 1880-1930.”

Whites and blacks in the mines had to rely on each other for their safety, and there were not major differences in pay or living conditions for miners of different races, Eller said.

When the schools integrated in the mid-1960s, U.S. Steel “made it seamless,” said Dwain Morrow, whose father, William Morrow, retired after working 40 years for the company.

‘Virtual reign of terror’

Labor relations were another matter.

Harlan County had some of the most widely reported labor clashes in the country between the world wars. Coal operators used control over the county’s economy and politicians to beat back organizing efforts, evicting union members from company houses, blacklisting them from getting jobs and paying the salaries of sheriff’s deputies who intimidated miners.

Lynch was not immune from the violence associated with those struggles that cemented the nickname “Bloody Harlan.”

There were shootings in Lynch, including one fight at the bathhouse in which two men died, Goode said.

“They didn’t hesitate to resort to violence,” he said of the union organizers and the coal companies.

U.S. Steel and other coal companies exerted authoritarian control over employees and the economic, political and social life in the county, John W. Hevener said in his 1978 account of the labor battles of the 1930s, “Which Side Are You On?”

When the United Mine Workers of America tried in 1935 to sign up members at U.S. Coal and Coke, the U.S. Steel division that operated Lynch, the company laid in a supply of tear gas and extra ammunition, barred organizers and followed union members and destroyed their literature, Hevener wrote.

A state commission later said that a “virtual reign of terror” existed in the county, financed by coal operators in collusion with public officials, and that miners had been evicted, beaten and mistreated.

Goode said U.S. Steel eventually accepted the UMW at Lynch in the late 1930s, deciding that the cost wouldn’t be onerous.

Pay and benefits for miners improved under the union, said William Morrow, 94, who lied about his age to go to work for U.S. Steel at 16.

“It made it better,” Morrow said.

By the late 1950s, mechanization had eliminated many miners’ jobs and railroads and factories switched to other fuel sources, reducing demand for coal.

Coal production hit a 50-year-low in Harlan County in 1960, and the county’s population dropped by nearly half between 1950 and 1970 as people left to find work, according to Census figures.

U.S. Steel and other companies, including International Harvester at neighboring Benham, decided it was too costly to maintain company-owned towns. They tore down many houses, sold others to residents, turned over schools to county districts and gave offices and other buildings to the towns, keeping only their mining operations.

U.S. Steel eventually ended its involvement in Lynch after more than six decades, selling its mines to Arch Coal in 1984.

These days, the city is living month to month financially and operates in the red at times, said Mayor John Adams.

“Getting by — that would be optimistic,” Adams said.

Arch stopped mining around town in the late 1980s, cutting a key source of revenue for the city from selling water to the mines.

Adams said the city needs more employees but can’t afford to hire. When both of its water-plant operators quit in January, the mayor pressed his sons into service to keep the plant going.

Untapped potential

But residents say Lynch also has assets to develop its tourism economy, including the beauty of the mountains, a fascinating history and its coal-camp houses and buildings.

Some of the original buildings in town are still in use, such as the hospital and a building that was a bank and post office, which now holds City Hall.

Kitty Dougoud, administrator of the Kentucky Main Street Program at the Kentucky Heritage Council, said she was not aware of a more intact coal town.

“The potential is there,” Dougoud said.

Neighboring Benham is home to the Kentucky Coal Museum in the renovated coal-company commissary and other historic buildings, including the School House Inn, which was a high school for decades beginning in the 1920s but was converted to a hotel.

Cumberland, Benham and Lynch have been designated as trail towns. They are working to develop hiking and horse trails, and Lynch has started work on a campground.

The city received a grant to renovate the old coal-camp fire station, which now houses Fire House Gifts and Crafts, and a Christian service organization called Meridzo Center Ministries financed the renovation of a building that housed a popular restaurant in the 1920s across from the portal of a mine in the center of town. The Lamp House Coffee shop is in the building now.

There has been interest for years in restoring more of the town’s old stone buildings, but not enough money to match the interest.

The town did receive financing to create a unique attraction at the Portal 31 exhibition mine. Visitors tour a restored section of an underground mine where workers produced more than 100 million tons of coal from 1917 to the early 1960s.

Recordings and animatronic displays tell the story of mining and the town over decades, covering technology, safety concerns, union organizing, and the rise and fall of Lynch.

‘Here to help people’

Residents say Meridzo also is a key resource for the town.

In addition to renovating the building for the coffee shop, the ministry operates a convenience store, a gym, a veterinary clinic, retreat centers and a stable in Harlan and Letcher counties.

Meridzo sees its mission as helping people with practical needs, including jobs, and in the process share the Gospel of Christ, said Lonnie Riley, who founded the ministry with his wife, Belinda, in 1999.

“We’re here to help people,” Riley said.

Meridzo is working to recruit a chiropractor, and has started a facility to grow shiitake mushrooms in sections of hardwood logs in the old bathhouse where miners cleaned up before going home.

There also is an effort underway to develop a customer-service center to provide jobs locally.

Betsy Shirey, who is developing the project, said her idea is a center where employees would field telephone calls and emails for other companies, and could provide other services, such as bookkeeping and marketing.

Shirey works for Humana, but after visiting Lynch on mission trips coordinated by Meridzo, she felt a spiritual calling to try to bring jobs to the area.

She can do her job from home, so she bought a house in Lynch and moved from Louisville.

Shirey said the lack of jobs in the area has helped create an attitude of entrenched hopelessness for many people.

“We’ve got to build up some infrastructure of meaningful work for people,” Shirey said.

Merger ahead?

Some think merging services for Lynch, Benham and Cumberland — or even merging local governments — would put all three on better footing.

The three lie end to end over a space of a few miles and have been known as the Tri-Cities for decades, but grew up as distinct places, with their own schools and competing sports teams, and have always maintained separate city services.

With all three stretched thin, however, their councils agreed to a merger study proposed by the Tri-City Chamber of Commerce, which said in its application for a grant that with declining populations and tax bases, the three towns “have struggled mightily in their efforts to maintain basic services to their citizens.”

The study will focus on how the towns could form one government, how services could be combined, potential savings and how layoffs would be handled if needed.

I really fear for their existence unless they are willing to come together and work as one.

W. Bruce Ayers, former president of Southeast Community and Technical College

W. Bruce Ayers, former president of Southeast Community and Technical College in Cumberland and head of the chamber, said many members believe merger is needed.

A merger would reduce costs, increase efficiency and give the unified city a better shot at government grants, Ayers said.

“I really fear for their existence unless they are willing to come together and work as one,” Ayers said.

It will probably be next year before the study is done and the towns have to decide on merging.

Even if they do, Lynch won’t lose its identity in its second century, said Mary Jo O’Bradovich, who with her husband Mike is involved in the centennial committee.

“After 100 years, I don’t think anyone is going to say, I am from the Tri-Cities,’” she said. “Lynch will be Lynch.”

Bill Estep: 606-678-4655, @billestep1

BIG PHARMACY AT WORK HERE IN KENTUCKY, IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED!


marijuana

Chad Wilson

 

BIG PHARMACY AT WORK HERE IN KENTUCKY.
IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED..IF YOU CARE ABOUT THIS STATE…THIS PLANT..AND IT’S FARMERS.

Legislators’ Hot Line: 1-800-372-7181

Legislative alert:

HB 333 – Fentanyl Bill:

In this bill they have buried something that will undo a lot of the good work Jamie Comer did when he was Ag Commissioner.

This bill deals with Fentanyl, not Industrial Hemp or CBD oil.

Right now, Big Pharma, more specifically GW Pharmaceuticals is working on a synthetic CBD Oil for prescription to be allowed by the FDA.

In Section 25 (d) of this bill it tinkers with what Marijuana is and is not, and what Marijuana will not be in Kentucky if this passes is CBD Oil Prescription Approved by the FDA.

By doing this any natural CBD oil from Industrial Hemp plants that is not prescribed will then be by default Marijuana, and thus a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance.

What needs to happen is Section 25(d) needs to be stricken as not germane, or amended to included CBD oil from Industrial Hemp.

TBK Opposes, if these changes are not made.

ACTION: Call Rep. Moser and your Representative and see if we can get section 25 (d) changed. – Reported favorably out of committee, posted for passage, floor amendment filed that does not address our concerns.

SOURCE LINK

http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/17RS/HB333.htm

Send this to your Kentucky Legislators NOW!!!!


 
Image may contain: 1 person
 
Thomas Tony Vance

12 mins ·

Send this to your Kentucky Legislators NOW!!!!

In 1969, the 1937 marijuana tax stamp act was declared unconstitutional.

In 1970 they began creating the 1970 Controlled substances Act and without any scientific input made marijuana schedule one, right up there with heroin. A schedule that cannot be questioned or changed without the approval of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Very few drugs are in this category.

Now we know it was all a political scam to use the drug war to go after and suppress Nixon’s enemies. We know this for sure because the Nixon Administration said so.

The cover story in the April 2016 edition of Harper’s Magazine was, “Legalize it all” written by Dan Baum. Mister Baum was asking Nixon aide John Ehrlichman questions about the politics of drug prohibition and as he tells it, Ehrlichman asked,

“You want to know what this was really all about?” He went on to say, “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did”.

The new AG, Senator Sessions is saying he is going to step up the war on pot users. For what reason?

They claim States Rights when deciding whether or not to protect transgender kids’ right to go to the bathroom of their choice, but not when deciding a State Marijuana policy!

Please ease the fears of the tens of thousands of marijuana users in our State and send a message to the new administration that as a State we will not be bullied by the Feds.

PS: Scientifically, there is a 25% drop in opioid overdose deaths in the first year after passage of a medical marijuana bill that grows to 33% by year 6 after legalization. that means 250 of our citizens will die in the coming year if a bill is not passed this year.

So Git Busy!

You may never know but passage might save the life of one of your family members!

https://www.facebook.com/thomas.t.vance?hc_ref=NEWSFEED&fref=nf

Kentucky house passes bill to create Bible literacy courses in schools


(Pixabay)

FRANKFORT, KY (AP)

The Kentucky House has passed legislation aimed at creating elective Bible literacy courses in public schools.

The bill would require the state Board of Education to establish policies for local school boards that choose to offer elective social studies courses on the Hebrew texts and New Testament.

The measure passed the House on an 80-14 vote Thursday and now goes to the Senate.

Rep. DJ Johnson of Owensboro, the bill’s sponsor, said the Bible is the “single-most impactful literary document” in western civilization.

The bill’s opponents said it intrudes on the principles separating church and state by sanctioning one faith.

Under the bill, Bible literacy would be an optional course for public school students, with curriculum set by Kentucky’s Board of Education.

The legislation is House Bill 128.

CONTINUE READING…

http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/17RS/HB128.htm

“Our lives matter just as much as anybody’s. …


Chief removes Punisher emblem, ‘Blue Lives Matter’ from police cars after public reacts

The Catlettsburg Police Department installed the decals on eight vehicles in December.

By Fernando Alfonso III

falfonso@herald-leader.com

Catlettsburg

An Eastern Kentucky police chief has removed large decals with the Punisher skull and “Blue Lives Matter” from eight police cars after a backlash following the publication of a Herald-Leader story.

The Catlettsburg Police department, which employs eight full-time and two part-time officers for a population of about 2,500, featured the images on the hoods of its 2013 and 2017 Ford Interceptor sedans and sport-utility vehicles, assistant police chief Gerry Hatzel said. The stylized skull was from “The Punisher” comic book series.

The vinyl decals featuring “Blue Lives Matter” and the Punisher logo were created in Louisiana and affixed to the Catlettsburg Police Department vehicles. Fernando Alfonso III falfonso@herald-leader.com

The logo was praised by local residents but raised questions among others in the commonwealth.

The designs were spearheaded by Police Chief Cameron Logan, who worked with a vinyl decal shop in Louisiana to get the decals printed. Logan installed the decals on all the police vehicles in December. He would not discuss how much the decals cost.

“That design is basically to give back to the police officers,” Logan, who has been with the department for 13 years, said before reversing course on the emblems. “Our lives matter just as much as anybody’s. … I’m not racist or anything like that, I’m not trying to stir anything up like that. I consider it to be a ‘warrior logo.’ Just ’cause it has ‘Blue Lives Matter’ on the hood, all lives matter. That decal represents that we will take any means necessary to keep our community safe.”

Overdoses and drug-related crimes have been on the rise, the chief said.

The city council and Mayor Randall Peterman approved the designs, Logan said. The Herald-Leader unsuccessfully sought comment from the mayor.

Richard “Andy” Brown, 37, who was elected to the six-person council after its vote on the decals, was critical of the decals.

“I don’t see why they’d waste the money, honestly,” said Brown, a Catlettsburg native whose family owns the IGA grocery in town. “My main objective is to make sure the taxpayers’ money is used in the most efficient way possible. It wasn’t expensive, but still. If it’s something they feel strongly about, they’re risking their lives and I understand that. I just think it’s a little bit strange. There’s been a lot of people mistreated by police, and their lives matter, too, like that guy in North Carolina.”

The shooting Brown referred to was of Keith Lamont Scott, 43, in September 2016 by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer.

Central to the decals was the Punisher, the nom de guerre of the Marvel anti-hero Frank Castle, a former Force Reconnaissance Marine and Vietnam War veteran who doles out justice “using torture, murder and kidnapping in his anti-crime crusade,” according to Time Magazine. The logo has been unofficially used by military units and was popularized in the award-winning film “American Sniper.”

The “Blue Lives Matter” movement unofficially began in December 2014 after two New York Police Department officers were shot and killed “by a fanatic who believed the lies of Black Lives Matter, the media, and politicians,” states Bluelivesmatter.blue, a media company founded by active and retired officers. The movement has since been embraced by President Donald Trump and has been used to describe a series of bills in Mississippi and Kentucky that would label crimes against police officers as hate crimes.

Kentucky’s “Blue Lives Matter” legislation is House Bill 14. The bill passed in Kentucky’s House on Feb. 13 after Donna Mayfield, R-Winchester, was called a racist by Black Lives Matter protesters angry over her support of the legislation. Louisiana became the first state to pass a “Blue Lives Matter” bill in May 2016.

Some Catlettsburg residents said they hope Kentucky is the next to formally embrace the “Blue Lives Matter” movement.

Daniel Ray, 63, grew up in Catlettsburg and said that respect for police has suffered nationwide.

“I think everybody should be out there supporting their police and their community,” Ray said. “They’re out there putting their lives on the line every day. They get little gratitude for that already, and when we have silly people who challenge them and wonder what’s going to happen, what do you expect is going to happen? We shouldn’t be challenging our police officers. We should be supporting them.”

That opinion was shared by Charles Allen, the pastor of Catlettsburg’s United Methodist Church. Allen has lived in Catlettsburg since 1968 and is originally from Michigan.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Allen said. “I think all lives matter. Nothing to do with color. Black lives, yellow lives, red lives, whatever color of your skin. To God, every human being has a soul and we matter to God and we matter to each other.”

Photos of the Catlettsburg police cars were positively featured on the Kentucky Going Blue’s Facebook page, but on Reddit’s Kentucky community, the response was more critical. Reddit users questioned the legality of the decals and suggested the Punisher was “a really poorly thought-out message for a law enforcement agency to be putting out there.”

Syracuse University’s Roy Gutterman, who also is director of the school’s Tully Center for Free Speech, said the Catlettsburg Police Department was within its rights to feature the decals, which are often “an ordinary governmental administrative decision.”

“Even though the slogan mimics the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, I would not say that ‘Blue Lives Matter’ necessarily demeans any other slogan that would subject the city to any other additional criticism,” Gutterman said.

Gutterman also said the department’s use of the Punisher could generate negative attention from the Walt Disney Co., which acquired Marvel Entertainment in December 2009 for $4.2 billion. Disney threatened legal action against a gun accessory manufacturer in Nov. 2015 for using its Punisher imagery. The city didn’t seek Disney’s approval, the chief said. Disney did not respond to a request for comment.

“If the department is using an actual comic book character, I suspect this usage is an infringement of intellectual property rights, specifically the copyright held by the creators or owners of that character,’ Gutterman said before the decals were removed Friday. “The appropriation of that image might be more troubling than whatever the character may stand for. They might as well put Batman or Superman on the cruisers while they’re at it.”

Fernando Alfonso III: 859-231-1324, @fernalfonso

CONTINUE READING…http://www.kentucky.com/news/state/article134722264.html

Cave City explores community events


 

BY GINA KINSLOW gkinslow@glasgowdailytimes.com

 

CAVE CITY — A group of about 15 people turned out for a town hall meeting Thursday night to discuss projects and events for the upcoming summer and fall.

Some of the ideas discussed were monthly, summer concerts, a Fourth of July Parade and continuation of Cave City Proud Days.

“One thing we are including is we are going to try to expand our community garden,” said Mayor Dwayne Hatcher. “We have some folks who have consented to let us use some of their land.”

The community garden project is being spearheaded by Councilman Gary “Doc” Hogan.

“We are probably gong to try to increase the number of plots we have down at E.P. Terry Estates,” Hogan said, adding there is also plans to till a few acres for the planting of fruits and vegetables, such as sweet corn, watermelons and cantaloupes, that can’t be easily grown in garden boxes. “We found someone who is going to let us use their land. The city is going to provide some of the equipment (for the garden).”

The project will not only help reduce grocery bills for E.P.Terry residents, but Hogan said it will also provide them with a more healthy diet.

He would like for the project to be a learning experience for children, so they may understand that their food doesn’t come just from the grocery store.

“We are taking orders from people of what they are wanting to grow,” Hogan said.

He urges those wanting to participate to contact Cave City City Hall at 270-773-2188.

There are plans for another town hall meeting, which has been scheduled for 6 p.m. on March 9. The location for the meeting will be announced at a later date.

CONTINUE READING…

Kentucky Senate approves repeal of Common Core standards in schools


By Valarie Honeycutt Spears and Jack Brammer

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.com

The Kentucky Senate on Friday unanimously approved a wide-ranging public education bill that would establish a new process for intervening in low-performing schools and establish a new process for reviewing classroom academic standards.

Under Senate Bill 1, revisions would be made to the Kentucky academic standards in 2017-18 and every six years after that. Teams of educators from public schools and higher education would recommend changes with suggestions from citizens.

Senate Bill 1 would repeal the controversial Common Core academic standards, but not until the new standards are rolled out in a staggered fashion, the bill’s sponsor State Sen. Mike Wilson, the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, has said.

Kentucky was the first state to adopt the Common Core standards and subsequently incorporated them into the Kentucky academic standards. Those standards, which have undergone other revisions, define what Kentucky students should learn at each grade level. How the standards are taught is decided by local schools.

There was no debate on the bill in the Senate on Friday but two Democratic senators praised Wilson, R-Bowling Green, for his handling of the measure that was approved on a 35-0 vote.

Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, said there is no need to question the bill because Wilson has done a good job explaining it to all involved. Wilson contacted educators, policymakers and citizens, including families of students, as he developed the bill.

Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, said Wilson’s approach to listen to all parties involved “is exactly how this body ought to function.”

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said this is the third year Wilson has worked on this “major piece of policy.”

He said it combines the realities, demands and desires of returning control of school systems back to locals.

Also under Senate Bill 1, a new assessment system would still rate schools but would not use a single numerical score that ranks schools against each other. Local districts would establish their own evaluation systems for teachers, principals and other staff aligned with a statewide framework. Evaluation results would not be reported to the state education department.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears

CONTINUE READING…

(KY) This Week at the State Capitol


For Immediate Release

February 17, 2017

This Week at the State Capitol

February 13 – 17, 2017

FRANKFORT — Headlines in recent days have made it clear that Kentucky’s problems with heroin, other illegal opioids and prescription drug abuse, continue to take lives and devastate communities at a shocking rate.

In-state newspapers have recently reported the more than 52 drug overdoses occurred over a 32-hour period in Louisville, and nine overdose calls came in over 12 hours in Madison County. A national publication reported that one rural Kentucky county filled enough prescriptions over 12 months to supply 150 doses of painkillers to every person in the county.

The same conversations held across the state about the way the drug crisis is impacting the court system, police, health care workers, treatment facilities, social workers, prison officials and families are also being held in the State Capitol. Those deliberations resulted in a number of bills aimed at addressing the issue, including several bills that took steps forward in the legislative process this week.

On Tuesday, the Senate approved Senate Bill 14, which is aimed at getting drug dealers off the streets by strengthening penalties for trafficking in heroin and fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid. Under the legislation, which was approved on a 36-0 vote, trafficking in less than two grams of these substances would be elevated to a Class C felony punishable by five to 10 years in prison.

Later in the week, a pair of bills addressing the drug crises were also approved in the House committees.

House Bill 333 would make it a felony to illegally sell or distribute any amount of fentanyl, carfentanil – a powerful opioid intended for large animals – and related drugs. Trafficking any amount of these drugs could result in up to 10 years in prison under the legislation. The bill would also restrict prescriptions for some painkillers to a three-day supply, though exceptions would be allowed in some circumstances. House Bill 333 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee and now goes to the full House for consideration.

The House Education Committee approved House Bill 145, which would help fight opioid addiction by requiring that public school students be educated about the dangers of prescription pain killers and their connection to addiction to heroin and other drugs.

Bills on other issues that advanced in the General Assembly this week include the following:

· Senate Bill 1 is a sweeping education reform measure that sets the course to change educational standards and accountability for public schools. The more than 100-page-long bill is an omnibus measure aimed at empowering state education officials, locally-elected school board members and teachers to decide the best teaching methods for their communities. It would set up several committees and advisory panels to review educational standards. The bill would change how students are tested, and it would also set up a new way for intervening in low-performing schools by placing more power in the local school district during those interventions. The bill passed the Senate on a 35-0 vote and now goes to the House for consideration.

· House Bill 14 would give police, firefighters, and emergency medical services personnel protection under the state’s hate crime statutes. Under the bill, those who assault, kidnap, or commit certain other violent offenses against first responders could face stricter sentencing in court. Currently only the legally-protected classes of race, color, religion and national origin, as well as sexual orientation, are covered under the state’s hate crime statute. House Bill 14 passed the House on a 77-13-1 vote and has been sent to the Senate.

· Senate Bill 78 would require public schools across Kentucky would to go smoke-free by next school year. The bill would outlaw the use of all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, on elementary, middle and high school campuses in addition to buses. The bill was approved by the Senate on a 25-8-2 and has been sent to the House.

· Senate Bill 75 would increase the amount donors can contribute to election campaigns. Under the legislation, individuals and political action committees could donate $2,000 in the primary and general elections in Kentucky– up from the $1,000 limit. The bill passed the Senate on a 27-10 vote and has been delivered to the House.

· House Bill 192 would make it easier for 16- and 17-year-olds in foster care to apply for driver’s permits and driver’s licenses. The bill, which passed 96-0 before being sent to the Senate,  would allow those in foster care to get a driver’s license or permit without requiring them to have a parent’s or other adult’s signature on the permit or license applications.

Members of the General Assembly are eager to receive feedback on the issues under consideration. You can share your thoughts with lawmakers by calling the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 800-372-7181.

You can also write any legislator by sending a letter with the lawmaker’s name to: Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601.

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Sen. Morgan McGarvey Hosting Public Mtg RE: Medical Marijuana (KY) on February 18th in Louisville, Kentucky


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Senator Morgan McGarvey Hosting 2/18 Public Meeting

Legalize Kentucky Supporters:

Sen. McGarvey filed a bill to allow medical marijuana in last year’s Legislative session and is expected to do so again this year. We need to get a huge crowd to attend this Saturday to thank him for his past support, and show him there are still many supporters of this important issue!

Here is the information: 

Senator Morgan McGarvey

Public Meeting

10 AM

Saturday, February 18

Douglass Community Center

2305 Douglass Blvd