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Old 03-14-2013, 04:36 PM
 
Location: The canyon (with my pistols and knife)
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I'm sure some of you have seen these maps created by the Appalachian Regional Commission that measure the economic performance of all the counties in their designated region...



...and I couldn't help but notice how distressed eastern Kentucky looked. According to them, there are 98 distressed counties in the region, and 40 of them are in Kentucky.

Economic performance has a pretty strong correlation with general quality of life, and I often see Kentucky near the bottom of all those different lists that measure various quality-of-life indicators. I'm not saying all this stuff to pile on; it's just that Kentucky never really struck me as such a distressed place from what I've seen. Of course, I've mostly been through central and western Kentucky, and I've only ever passed through eastern Kentucky once on I-75 a few years ago.

Is it really bad when you get away from the large cities and Interstates? Is it a lot worse in eastern Kentucky than the rest of the state? If it is, is there any hope for the future in some of those places? Just inquiring.

Last edited by Craziaskowboi; 03-14-2013 at 04:47 PM..

 
Old 03-14-2013, 05:08 PM
 
Location: East Tennessee and Atlanta
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There's little to any industry in Eastern Kentucky, other than coal mining. Historical poverty, geographically challenged, and flood prone in the valleys.

As for you travelling through Eastern Kentucky on I-75, I-75 is really the barrier for the start (and all the way east to the West Virginia/Virginia borders) of impoverished Eastern Kentucky.

As all places, there is wealth for sure in E KY--my mother is from there originally--Barboursville--but on the whole it is impoverished, rural, and not very desirable for most people (some of course)....

About the future, it will have to work overtime to attract industry of some sort--so much competition.
 
Old 03-14-2013, 08:08 PM
 
Location: Eastern Kentucky Proud
912 posts, read 1,352,201 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnutella View Post
I'm sure some of you have seen these maps created by the Appalachian Regional Commission that measure the economic performance of all the counties in their designated region...



...and I couldn't help but notice how distressed eastern Kentucky looked. According to them, there are 98 distressed counties in the region, and 40 of them are in Kentucky.

Economic performance has a pretty strong correlation with general quality of life, and I often see Kentucky near the bottom of all those different lists that measure various quality-of-life indicators. I'm not saying all this stuff to pile on; it's just that Kentucky never really struck me as such a distressed place from what I've seen. Of course, I've mostly been through central and western Kentucky, and I've only ever passed through eastern Kentucky once on I-75 a few years ago.

Is it really bad when you get away from the large cities and Interstates? Is it a lot worse in eastern Kentucky than the rest of the state? If it is, is there any hope for the future in some of those places? Just inquiring.
Well, actually I haven't seen the map but, I went to the ARC website and looked at the same map starting in 2002 and seen that Eastern Kentucky has remained basicly the same since 2002 (Depressed). It seems strange to see the depressed Counties in Eastern Kentucky remaining depressed for such a long period of time and, Appalachian Counties in other Appalachian States are progressing, or so it would seem.

Since you seem to know almost nothing about Eastern Kentucky, you are a good person to ask a question because most everyone else here seem to have a biased opinion (myself included). What would you suggest, we in Eastern Kentucky do to change this trend? It would appear that the ARC pours literally millions of dollars into Appalachia, does Kentucky not know what to do with their part or, is their (Kentucky)part not getting to where it is intended? I wonder who administers these funds in other Appalachian States? I have heard about the ARC for many years but, don't hear much about what they do. My guess, some local politician is taking credit for any progress if any, and, the ARC is never mentioned.

It would be interesting to know how you came across this map and yes, it's really bad East of I-75, so bad, that someone on here made reference to Eastern Kentucky the other day as, "a third world country".

 
Old 03-14-2013, 08:56 PM
 
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Wages are really low here. Shockingly low. In many rural counties in this area, teachers are among the highest paid workers.
 
Old 03-14-2013, 10:15 PM
 
Location: IN
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The problems are many and the solutions will take years to have a big positive impact.
Current problems: Drug use of all types, according to many articles on eastern Kentucky, are at highly elevated levels. The prescription drug epidemic continues to get worse. Economic dependency on coal and ancillary related manufacturing industries means the localized economy is prone to severe shocks when too many eggs are in one basket. Education: the overall attainment is increasing at a much slower rate compared to other areas of the ARC. Mountaintop removal coal mining has destroyed a large geographical area in the eastern Kentucky ARC area compared to other parts of the region, although southern WV is nearly as bad.
Solutions: Economic diversification is an absolute must. State level programs to keep and retain high quality teachers in the eastern counties must continue in order to build up educational attainment to increase diversification. Population will continue to decline in the distressed counties as residents move to seek work elsewhere. This has happened at a much slower rate in the counties in KY compared to the ARC counties in other states.
 
Old 03-15-2013, 09:45 AM
 
Location: Eastern Kentucky
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Gnutella, you seem to ask this question without prejudice and without judgement. Thank you for that. Yes, Eastern KY has a hard time economically. Jobs are hard to find here. Many of our people farm and do arts and crafts. We do not have the means to offer our products in the world market. Organic farmers in areas that have an outlet do well, but we do not have that outlet. I have see quilts for sale for $300.00 and up that no Kentuckan would ever admit to doing because of the poor quality, but we have no outlet for our higher quality goods. Kentucky probably has a higher percentage of artists and craftspeople, not to mention organic farming than any place in the world, but we do not have the means to get our stuff on the market due to transportation problems and technology. For instance, I make jewelery, quilt and crochet, but do not have an outlet for my creations. I have dial-up, which makes it almost impossible to post pictures of my creations, and when I try to contact a possible outlet, most of them want money up front, which I don't have.
Sorry for the long post. We do have problems, but the only solutions seem to be move, which most of us do not want to do, or accept that we must trade off quality of life here vs. quality of life somewhere else. It is a hard choice.
 
Old 03-15-2013, 09:55 AM
 
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The historic boom and bust cycle of the coal industry explains a lot, as does the out-of-state ownership of eastern Kentucky's biggest asset: coal. The topography of the land is another factor - while the richest, most diverse forests in the world once grew here, those trees were cut for lumber long ago, using methods which resulted in severe erosion along the steep mountainsides, and left little behind. The woods grew back, but will never be what they once were. That same topography made travel and to some degree, communication with the world outside of the mountains difficult.

Subsistence farming, supplimented by hunting and gathering native foods and medicinal plants, plus a few small individually owned businesses, was the major way of life in the mountains before the coal industry got underway. Roads were creekbeds and paths, schools were one-room and usually offered no more than eight grades, health care was scant. People were independent - they had to be - and old ways lingered, with a rich heritage of essential crafts, traditional songs, music, dance, and storytelling persisting in the mountains long after it was forgotten and largely lost outside of the area.

Then came the mines, and with them, the broad form deed, in which all mineral rights were sold to coal companies by the land owners for a pittance, while the land owners retained surface rights. At the time the broad form deeds appeared, the only mining method known was deep mining, yet many years later, coal companies strip mined much of the area, despite strong opposition of current surface landowners, because of the interpretation of the broad form deed. It took years and years before the broad form deed was declared illegal...by which time, thousands of acres had been strip-mined and left un"restored" (you can't put it back...).

During this time, many surface owners gave up in despair and sold their land and moved away. Now, of course, mountaintop removal mining makes strip-mining look very minor by comparison, but both methods have done untold, unthinkable damage to the land and everything and everyone who lived on that land.

With the coming of the coal company towns, which were based around underground mines, company stores, company houses, company ownership of everything within the towns, which became known as "coal camps", the old independent ways were diminished and in some cases, forgotten. People wanted more than the little-more-than-subsistence life they'd had on the farms, and the coal camps seemed to offer more initially - consistent pay, little need for barter, little need to make one's own necessities of life, stores with "bought goods" rather than homemade goods or homegrown produce, increased social opportunities offered by larger communities, schools, churches, entertainment that wasn't homemade - all seemed good. At first.

But then the coal mines closed, and people were left with little or nothing - in some cases, they were forced to leave the houses that belonged to the companies, they were in debt to the company stores, and they had little savings and in many cases, no longer owned the old homestead and had forgotten the old ways of their parents and grandparents. Many left the area for the industrial cities of the north: Detroit, Cincinnati, Chicago, etc. Population dropped, as those who had "get up and go" got up and went, leaving those who could not or would not leave behind: the frail, the elderly, the weak, the disabled, the fatherless families...along with those who profitted at the expense of the vulnerable, ethical concerns be danged. Corruption in local government - vote-buying, placing cronies in well-paid positions of power, favors to those who held their mouths the right way, etc. became the norm in many places. And there were those strong, determined people who also stayed and who continued to do their best to live their lives productively, and to raise their children well and to contribute to their communities. Not everyone in the mountains was weak or corrupt, not by a long shot.


Then welfare stepped in, to care for those who could not care for themselves. Work programs such as the notorious Happy Pappies of the late 1960s became established, as "Appalachia" became a concern of well-intentioned outsiders who were distressed by the genuine need and wanted to help. During the Johnson administration's "War on Poverty", the mountains were a major battlefield, and money and would-be helpers poured in. New highways, more health resources, new schools - all appeared and did a good deal of good, in many cases - but suspicion that the cronyism would be ended led to local opposition in the most corrupt communities.

The traditional arts, crafts, music, dance, and stories were rediscovered, though they never were completely lost, and became the inspiration for many a craft fair throughout the region. Charmed by the originality and heritage of these things, many who were concerned about the poverty level urged craft-making as a potential money-making resource which could revive the area's economy. Quilts hung in every hollow for a while, it seemed. But the demand never matched the supply, and cheap copies from China and other developing countries soon overshadowed the far more costly mountain handicrafts. Popular taste, driven by interests far removed from the mountains, soon changed, influenced by those with financial and political interests in increasing cheap generic imports of the kind which took the place of the beautifully crafted items formerly cherished. Thankfully, many know better and recognize quality when they see it, but the market still does not make living via crafts easy, outside of places like Berea (and even there, it's not easy and no one gets rich on crafts).

Proposals to increase tourism met a similar fate - few want to spend vacations gazing at or exploring topless mountains and polluted waterways, while those who don't mind such things - like the many noisy ATV and dirt bike riders who pour into Kentucky on weekends - simply increase environmental havoc, while spending little money locally (most have campers or trailers, few purchase anything other than gas, all tear up the land tremendously and many have little respect for others' property rights. Yet our state's governor supports what he terms "adventure tourism"...why, I cannot say, unless it's for the same reasons he alligns with the coal industry).

Meanwhile, the isolation of the mountains proved ideal for drug dealers and growers. Serving some of the same market as had the earlier moonshiners, marijuana patches sprouted up, disguised by the tree canopy and often undetectable by aerial surveillance. Once again, local corrupt officials became entwined with this profitable illegal business.

Next came the pills and the meth - declared disabled, many with rather minor ailments found themselves easily addicted to painkillers, and a profitable route sprang up down I-75 to Florida, where regulations are lax and "pain doctors" flourish. Soon meth production took off, with the simplicity and cheapness of its creation making profitability a sure thing, with a population prone to addiction, and the lethal dangers involved being brushed aside with referrals to God's will as to one's time and cause of death. It seems that arrests are made every week, with small children being removed from the poisonous places where meth is made on a regular basis. Yet production and addiction continue...as do the deaths.

So there's not any one easy answer, or even one tough answer, or even more than one answer of any kind, as to what has created the problems of poverty in eastern Kentucky (and much of the rest of southern Appalachia). Nor are there easy answers as to how to effectively address the many, many problems of this still-beautiful, but sadly ravaged and dishonored place and its people.

And it was once the home of the richest forest in the world....
 
Old 03-15-2013, 02:09 PM
 
Location: Eastern Kentucky
1,237 posts, read 2,818,540 times
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Lets not forget the oil and gas compaines who stripped the landowners of their rights. Most Kentuckians were honest people who were used to dealing with other honest people and were facing other people who were not honest.
 
Old 03-15-2013, 08:40 PM
 
Location: Eastern Kentucky Proud
912 posts, read 1,352,201 times
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I wonder what happened to the OP and their sidekick? Hit and run you might call it. Oh well, that happens a lot around here.
 
Old 03-15-2013, 09:48 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hogsrus View Post
I wonder what happened to the OP and their sidekick? Hit and run you might call it. Oh well, that happens a lot around here.
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