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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
P.O. Box 190 • Whitley City, KY 42653
October 5, 2017
Thank you so much for your article on the new Extension Tax. I thought that citizens could not be taxed without being informed. Is this not what the constitution called “taxation with representation”?
I also appreciate your showing the public who is really the political gang. When the “political gang” could find no facts to support their charges, they resorted to name calling. Most people outgrow this kind of behavior long before they reach adulthood.
This tax is solely intended to hire a 4H Club Agent. Can we really afford this tax? When will you need a 4H Club Leader? What will he or she do for you? What will his or her duties be? How often will you need a 4H Club director? Will this person at least be a McCreary citizen to benefit from this salary?
We don’t have a jail. It is very expensive to transport and board our prisoners in another county. This money could be used toward a jail. It seems to me that this political gang ran out of answers for some of the above questions. They then resorted to lashing out. Most of us have done this when we were children, but we outgrew such childish things.
It also seems to me that this political gang used this meeting to vent their anger against Mr. Lominac. What has he done to harm them or you? Maybe we should cut Carson some slack in their choice of acronyms to express her anger. After all, our President used the same one to express his disgust.
June B. Lominac
We hear from the leadership from Texas, Florida and Las Vegas, who have been thru very trying times, that they are united, strong and working together. They will come back stronger and better than ever. I have no doubt this will happen. As our state motto states “united we stand, divided we fall”. When I look at our county, where success is fleeting and mistakes seem to rule the day, I wonder about the word united. This requires trust, most off all.
In the last two issues of the Voice, the headline questions trust of leadership. The first one was the new tax. It seems quite clear that knowing how the public feels about more taxes, our leadership at the county level selected to hide what was coming for months in order to prevent any public input. When the PVA ask a fair question, the county attorney and a court member made a clear effort to divert the question. It worked, as the question was never answered. Is hiding an issue that effects every person in county the way to build trust?
The second one involves the school leadership. I think it is clear what Mr. Anderson did is unacceptable. Was this information ever going to be released to the public without the freedom of information request? I doubt it. Again how does this build trust? The real question is how or why he is still in leadership at our school system. Is this what our school leadership want to present to our children as a shining example? I sure hope not.
How can we even dream of thinking we are united, strong and working together to build a better community when it is clear leadership cannot be trusted to inform the public, or act in the best interest of the people? Why would they even expect the support of the community? It appears they have forgotten they work for the public, not the public working for them. Draining the swamp may need to begin at home.
Concerned citizen for open government
To the Editor
Are you an Independent voter?
Are you tired of being refused the opportunity to vote in Kentucky primary elections?
Openprimaries.org is a national organization working to make open primaries available in all fifty states and you should take up the challenge to make them a reality here.
Kentucky is one of only seventeen states which do not permit open primaries and recent national polls have found that as much as 43% of the electorate considers itself as Independent. More and more young voters are listing themselves as Independent.
All taxpayers in Kentucky pay to support primary elections and yet a substantial proportion of those tax-payers are refused the right to vote in their primaries because they have elected not to affiliate with either the Democrat or Republican party.
According to the September voter stats released by the Kentucky Board of Elections, there are 282,776 voters in Kentucky who are registered to vote but are not affiliated with either the Democrat or Republi-can party. That’s a lot of voters who can’t vote in primaries.
Let’s be clear. Primaries are NOT for the parties, they are for the voters and all voters pay for them and should have the right to participate in them.
It’s well past time for KRS 116.055 to be repealed and to make primary elections open to everyone. It is an issue of fairness and justice.
Do something about it. Contact your legislator. Tell him or her to support repeal of KRS 116.055.
Contact the Secretary of State and demand that she work for all Kentuckians and push for a new statute to open the primaries.
Contact the Governor and tell him you expect him to work on behalf of all voters, not just those of two parties.
It’s time for Kentucky to enter the twenty-first century and to assure universal voting rights. You can help make it a reality.
25 Lynnway Drive
Winchester, KY 40391-8719
Debate, as we know it, is dead! People can’t seem to find common ground anymore. Different lines of thinking have become almost like rival football teams, tailgating and all. “If you like the (insert favorite team here) then there must be something wrong with your head; you must be ill; you should be shot”. Jumping on the bandwagon has become as easy as sharing a “meme” on social media that merely demonstrates frustration and barely reflects an intuitive legible argument.
You may be asking, “Well Mr. Pino, how do we fix this?” It all starts with us. We need to stop thinking that there are just two sides to every argument. Everyone does not fall into cookie-cutter templates of thought. The word “debate” and “argument” are not the same in the English language for a reason. Debate can be a wonderful game of acknowledgment, compromise and education if we let it be that.
I am here to tell you that it’s okay to change your mind. It is okay to disagree with people in your circle, party, cohort, etc. There’s a wealth of knowledge to be gained with healthy debate and compromise.
This may be the new normal, but perhaps people will come to their senses and start getting along. We all believe in different roads that lead to the promise land, but we’re all trying to reach the same destination: A better America and a better place to leave our children.
September 21, 2017
I would request you print the following comments as a public service to the teachers, coaches, club sponsors and our children in the McCreary County School System.
I know it’s getting time for all of the above referenced individuals/groups to start raising funds for various activities. You are asking for donations, selling candy/ donuts, magazines/ advertisements on t-shirts, asking local businesses to be a sponsor of this group or team. We understand…you need money! I was reminded of this as I was requested to contribute to two different schools groups this week. May I make a suggestion? Look at the McCreary County School District Financial Report as published on page 5B in the issue of the Voice on August 24, 2017. In that list is a laundry list of vendors you could solicit for funds. There are over 300 vendors listed that were paid over $1,000. About 60 of these are local businesses or system employees getting reimbursed expenses. Delete the 60 and you still have over 250 prospects to solicit sponsorships from. The addresses and contacts should be public record and available at the Board Office.
Let me state before I go any further that we at Crabtree Wilson Insurance are fortunate to have a service that allows us to be able to provide some services for the school system. But what about all the other small businesses in the county that are requested to donate at least monthly, sometimes weekly, but get no revenue or do no business with any part of the school system? This is not a knock on the system, just a fact of life. Many or most services/products that are needed by our schools are not available in McCreary County. But if our tax dollars are going out of the county to the tune of millions of dollars…why not ask those businesses to contribute back? McCreary County is reported to be one of the poorest counties in the United States…why shouldn’t those people that profit from doing business in our county be willing to give some back?
I may be wrong on some of my facts as I have not spoken to anyone at the Board Office on this issue, but… the Board has an attorney on retainer. $49,000; they are constantly doing business with Architect, $50,000; and engineers, $16,000. And I assume others that provide the same services that I did not recognize on the report…plus others that get substantial payments from the school system. Why not ask them for donations as you do our local attorneys, doctors and other professionals, banks and businesses that get little to no funds from the school system? Why not ask for donations from the insurance agents from outside the county that are paid $150,000 + per year? What about: CMTA Energy Solutions, $6368,919; A&M Oil Co, $98,000; Energy Focus, $111,000; Ever Bank Commercial Finance, $32,000; Hunting National Bank, $711,000…(I’m not picking on the above but list as random examples from the report.) How many of those listed donate back to benefit the students?
Just the vendors listed totals over $10 million of the $15 million of purchases that the School Board has paid at least $1,000. I’m not stating that “some” of those business have not donated back to groups in our schools! I’m not casting stones at anyone in the school system! I’m just suggesting that this report gives you a long laundry list of businesses that get a substantial amount of money from our school system… why not ask them for donations as you do our local businesses?
Might I suggest? A number of teams/clubs/classes could get together and write a blanket letter for a “request for donation” for the entire group, to the business you decide to solicit? State in the solicitation what you want to do with the money and that you are representing “extra curricular activities” as a whole and this will be the only solicitation they will receive from these groups this school year. I would even reference the amount of money they received from our school system. I would guess that many of the businesses listed on the report do business with the Board year in and year out… they are making money from our tax dollars, why shouldn’t they “give back?” Many of our local businesses give and give and get nothing back financially. Most I speak with give to help McCreary County and its kids. They give so our students get to experience some of the things kids in more affluent districts get to experience.
Last year Crabtree Wilson gave back to school groups 7% of our commissions received from School Board business, to school groups and activities. If the businesses listed in the report only gave back 1% (and I know all won’t, but what if some gave more) that would be over $150,000 that would help our kids and activities.
Can the Board, when bidding services/products, put on the bid form: “Are you willing to contribute financially to assist our student activities?” “Have you contributed in the past?” Most bids are “Lowest and Best”… I would think the “Best” factor could consist of many things.
Forgive my ramblings, just a suggestion trying to help our students.
George “Buddy” Wilson
Crabtree Wilson Insurance Agency, Inc.
September 7, 2017
The McCreary County Tourist Commission is looking for support in hopes of bringing back a Christmas Parade. If we can get citizens & business owners to support this event, a tradition could be started once more. We need a minimum of 25 float entries to start the planning of the 2017 Christmas Parade in downtown Whitley City. If you know of a business, citizen or organization that would want to participate, please pass along the information.
Feel free to contact the McCreary County Tourist Commission 606-376-3008 with any questions you may have.
August 10, 2017
To McCreary County Voters:
We want to thank everyone who went to the polls and exercised your right to vote. This is a privilege so many other countries do not have, and we are blessed to have this freedom. Whether you voted for or against the nickel tax, your vote was counted.
We wanted to take this time to thank everyone whose home we went to and how graciously we were received. It humbled us to know we could be a voice for the voters in our county. We realize we didn’t get to every household, and we regretted not being able to do so, we appreciated you taking time to talk to us and for allowing us to know how you felt.
To the School Board Members, this vote in no way represented that we do not care about the kids. This vote meant we are tired of taxes being put on the citizens of our county without us having a say in the matter. It’s called responsible spending and we hope you do a better job in the future with tax payers money.
Whenever I ask people who has had the most impact on their lives, teachers are almost always mentioned. From the earliest years of our lives, they guide us, encourage us, and inspire us to be the best we can be. Teachers are not only educators: they help students overcome challenges, discover their passions, and build self-esteem. WE want to thank you for what you do and say keep up the good work!
The Recall Committee, Debbie Campbell, Vicki Kidd, Harold Campbell, Bill Hail and Billy Wayne Morgan, thanks you again McCreary County for getting out and voting!
Debbie Campbell, Chair
I want to give a big KUDOS to Eric Haynes and our County Clerk’s Office for an excellent job this week. They pulled together a very contentious election with very short notice. As usual, your office made democracy work under difficult circumstances.
It should now be very apparent that the fine, generous people of McCreary County decided to ban together and not allow what can best be described as a hand full of bullies to control an entire county. Secondly, this is a victory for anyone who still believes that positive change is possible when the tax payers stick together. I’m hoping that this new found ability to stand together and fight back will be carried forward in the upcoming elections and will yield a much larger turn out at the polls. Three (3) of the School Board (Board) seats are up for election this next cycle. If they want to keep their seats then please start showing to respect for the tax payers, respect and answer their questions, spend the tax payers’ money wisely, become transparent and make your case for spending without the bullying, belittling, name calling and emotional blackmail.
Further, the Board is supposed to be the guardian of the tax payer’s money, not a rubber stamp for anything and everything the superintendent and his administration wants to spend our money on. Through the excellent investigative journalism of the fine folks at the “Voice” and our show “Truth or Politics” it was clearly disclosed that this has not been the case. When you have run up a debt of 31 million dollars and none of that money went to the mold problem that is allegedly making kids sick for years now, all the while the Board is spending untold amounts of tax payers’ money on remodeling their Board offices and numerous other much less important things, then what we have here is not a “tax payer” problem, it is in fact a leadership problem.
Darlene F. Price, J.D.
HOST: “Truth or Politics”
August 3, 2017
To the Editor
The family of Jimmy Daugherty is extremely upset and disappointed that the individual accused of causing his untimely death is only facing a manslaughter charge by the McCreary County Grand Jury.
Similar cases across the State of Kentucky have resulted in stricter penalties and a longer sentence for the accused in those cases.
The family feels the Commonwealth Attorney is not doing his job in prosecuting this case.
We are asking for this case to be prosecuted to the full extent that the law will allow.
Justice is not being served to his family and his memory.
July 27, 2017
I attended the Local Author Spotlight at the McCreary County Public Library on July 20, 2017. It was not only informative but very entertaining. Listening to the authors tell about their experiences, the how and the why they write. Where they get their inspiration and their materials I realized I will never be a writer! As they read passages from their book, or simply talked about it, I realized once again how much talent we have in our county!
We have something to be so proud of in McCreary County, not only the talented people here, but our Library. Kay Morrow and all of her staff does an excellent job. The event was a special evening out with time spent with local authors. Tonya Coffey, Darlene Price, Betty Shreffler, Jan Reed, Estol Daugherty, Peter Ferrara and Sam Perry, thank you so much for coming and sharing your treasures.
I wish I could tell you some of the different things they read and told how much it set the mood for you being there. If you have not been to the library in sometime it’s time to visit. There is something about when you walk in the door, the smell of the books and the friendly greeting makes you glad you came.
Kay and staff, thank you for a wonderful event! Please do it again soon.
June 22, 2017
Thanks for helping
I would like to thank everyone that donated to the Carter Cemetery Fund. This will really help for the upkeep of the Carter Cemetery. The books that were made of the Carter Cemetery are at the Public Library at Whitley City, KY for all families to see. All donations were put in the Carter Cemetery Fund at the UCB P.O. Box 160 Whitley City, KY 42653.
Thanks very much,
Larry Heath - Marshes Siding, KY
June 8, 2017
As the McCreary County Park Manager, I would just like to thank all of the amazing people that made this past Saturday’s free park “Summer Kick-Off” community event a huge success: The VFW for the flag changing ceremony, Crystal at Milton’s Burger Hut and their suppliers(Flower’s Bakery, Sysco Foods, Robinson’s Meat, and Performance Foods) for catering a free lunch, Sandra at Kroger for donating free drinks, Mark at Larry’s Somerset Oil for donating ice for free snow cones, North McCreary Fire & Rescue Auxilary for donating cases of water, McCreary County Public Library for setting up a table with free popsicles, Job Corps for setting up and providing free DJ music (also for helping with work during event) really could not have done it without them, and the Fair Board for setting up a table with free toys. I would also like to thank Diane Maya, Michaela Morgan, and my daughter Kierra Vanover for helping me run the table I set up representing The McCreary County Park, Fiscal Court, and Park Board with free snow cones, free popcorn, and free rock painting.
A big thank you to JC & Azalee Egnew whose generous donation has made having a new splash pad here at McCreary County Park possible. They have invested not only money, but a lot of time as well making their vision of a county park splash pad a reality. Watching the kids from our community in the splash pad with Azalee & JC at the park community event this past Saturday just warmed all our hearts. The kids in our community are what it is all about and we cannot thank the two of you enough.
In closing, I would also like to thank Judge Doug Stephens and the magistrates Roger Phillips, Jason Mann, Duston Baird, and Leroy Perry for all that you guys do for the local county park and our community as a whole. I would also like to thank the seven park board members who volunteer their time to serve on the park board Roger Branscum, Jonathon Kidd, Roger Phillips, Mindy Creekmore, David Decker, Duston Baird, and Michelle King. Even though you do not get paid you all still serve on the park board to try to make our county park the best it can be for all the citizens of McCreary County. Again, thanks to all that participated in the “Summer Kick-Off” park community event in anyway. You are all greatly appreciated and I truly hope I did not leave anyone out.
There has been a great deal of conversation in the press lately about public pensions – and there should be. It is a critical issue facing our Commonwealth, possibly the most critical issue for at least the next decade. The question of “How did we get here?” has shifted to the more important one of “How do we fix this?” Governor Bevin and today’s Legislators must do what their predecessors, in large part¸ failed to do – honor the full obligation of the state to its retired public employees – and provide the revenue necessary to resolve the problem while mitigating the impact on the rest of the state budget.
We retirees have an expectation that the pension contract will be honored. This is not unfair nor unreasonable. During our working years, money was taken from each of our paychecks for the purpose and with the promise of an earned benefit in retirement. We had no option other than to participate and if there were issues with the state doing the same, it was not our doing nor our fault. Whether we were a Correctional Officer, Maintenance Worker, Accountant, State Trooper, Social Service Worker, Auditor, or any of the hundreds of other classifications, we met our obligation under this contract and now expect the state to do the same.
Every public retiree - and active employee - must speak up and make their elected representatives aware of our expectations. The time has passed to sit back and wait for “they” to do this.
Larry P. Totten, President
Kentucky Public Retirees
June 1, 2017
The Kentucky State Treasurer’s (KST) office administers Kentucky’s Unclaimed Property fund. Over the years the fund has grown to an amazing total of just over $500 million. Yes, that is a 5 with 8 zeros!
What is Unclaimed Property? From the KST website: generally consists of payroll checks, unclaimed safety deposit boxes, old life insurance policies, stocks, or vendor checks that have remained unclaimed by their owners after several years. After a period of time banks and other financial institutions turn over the unclaimed property to the KST office. Funds are then sent to the General Fund and checks to pay claims come from this fund. In 2000 the account balance held in the General Fund was around $10 million and in less than 20 years has grown to a current value of $500 million.
Anyone can search for funds by going to the KST website: treasury.ky.gov
Several years ago the KST office posted UP information in local newspapers in an effort to make people, businesses and charities, churches and governmental units aware of funds but this practice was apparently discontinued due to cost.
While KST has some initiatives in place to connect owners with their property I believe it is time for KST to start advertising the availability of funds in every Kentucky County.
If you agree then contact their office at 502-564-4722 or via email at Treasury.firstname.lastname@example.org Additionally, you may consider contacting your legislators to request this action. Legislator contact information can be found at lrc.ky.gov
May 25, 2017
Recently, we began a landscaping project in Historic Stearns as part of our beautification of the town’s historic district. The project began in the courtyard behind Pottery by Mehg and adjacent to Big South Fork Scenic Railway depot and the McCreary County Community Heritage Center. We were overjoyed with the turnout and support from a number of local volunteers, who spent their afternoon playing in the dirt with us - weeding gardens and with shovels and spades and snipes - and doing marvelous work!
I just wanted to thank you, McCreary County, for your help. We thoroughly appreciate you! As this beautification project continues, we want to invite and encourage more people to join us. Changing the world, after all, always needs volunteers!
McCreary County Museum/
McCreary County Heritage Foundation
May 18, 2017
Dear Voice Staff,
Kudos to McCreary County Sheriff Randy Waters for speaking up so quickly during the last McCreary County Fiscal Court meeting and volunteering his Department to assist with locking/unlocking the gates to the McCreary County Park in an effort to make it more accessible to the public for use in the early morning and evening hours.
While making the park more accessible for those who wish to walk, play ball, etc. during the morning or evening might seem seem like a small matter, the quick response and willingness of an elected official to help make things just a little bit better for all McCreary County citizens was refreshing.
May 11, 2017
Dear Voice Staff,
We look forward to our Voice arrival and pass it on to other family members. Thank you for keeping us informed.
My husband’s family is from McCreary County and we visit often.
Mary Bryant - Tiffin, Ohio
April 20, 2017
Just a note; you may have noticed that people in general look for the bad which might be in other people, well I’m just the opposite, find the good in people and both of you will be happier.
Now, I wish to commend our EMS because of their wisdom in functioning due to Jim Barnett and William Duncan and their crews, which are very good at running their business, planning for the future and returning money in profits to the general fund. There aren’t enough like them here or anywhere else.
Thank you all, just for being here as part of our community.
April 13, 2017
I had a wonderful time volunteering at the Yamacraw 50K, 20K and 10K this year. It was a beautiful day in our county shared with hundreds of racers and volunteers making this event a big success; however I do have a few questions about the race.
First, and forgive me if I seem petty, but as a volunteer I understand giving your time for a good cause. I have volunteered my time with several different events in this county always giving it my all. Volunteers worked the race for over 12 hours on Saturday, out in the cold early in the morning and the heat in the afternoon. I was attentive and encouraging to all the racers and loved seeing each and everyone pass our station excited about finishing and sharing their love of our nature. After a very long day my teammates and I just wanted something cold to drink and something good to eat but was told that we had to pay $8.00 a person to join the celebration dinner with the runners. How can those that put this race together expect to keep volunteers coming back year after year when they don’t appreciate them? I know the participants of the race did the hard work of running but without the volunteers the race could not have happened. I feel the volunteers should have been able to join the celebration dinner at no cost. The after celebration was catered by a local individual and in my opinion only got the job because they are married to someone that helps with this event. So I ask is it too much trouble to acknowledge the hard work of the volunteers by feeding them?
Second, how does this race help the county economically? Other than the night before when lodging and restaurants benefit from all those living outside the county prep for the race. Why aren’t there events throughout the year that bring outsiders to our county instead of one big race? Events for those that live here that don’t require hiking? I feel our livelihood has been buried away in a dream of tourism. Tourism is a major part of McCreary County, but it isn’t the heartbeat. The heartbeat is our own citizens. Our citizens need well paying jobs and events to celebrate our history along with bringing in those that don’t live here. We’ve already lost McCrearyFest and its homecoming and economic benefit. Please tell me how a race event, that benefits an out of the county company, going to help the poorest county in the U.S.
I will not let this one event discourage me from volunteering again. I will keep up my hard work with pride.
An unappreciated volunteer
April 6, 2017
This letter is in response to a statement made by one of our Deputy Judge Executives Andrew Powell at the last Fiscal Court meeting. In response to Darlene Price’s question to members of the Fiscal Court inquiring as to whether there was anything that they could have done to keep the jail open, Mr. Powell stated that no one would help him keep the jail open; and he specifically named several parties, including myself, in his list of “non-helpers.” In reference to me, he stated to my wife, Darlene, that “...your husband would not help when he was County Attorney.” Given that I was singled out by a county official at a public meeting, I feel compelled to set the record straight.
I would like to point out that as an attorney I am not privileged to discuss in open forums confidential matters that may have occurred between my clients and myself. This is an obligation that I take very seriously. During my tenure as County Attorney, I considered the members of the Fiscal Court my clients; and, therefore, I am not permitted to discuss, nor would I discuss, confidential matters without all concerned parties agreeing, in writing, to my revealing those confidential matters. With this in mind, I would point out that the jail was completely closed in January 2013. However, I was not sworn in as County Attorney until July 1, 2013, a full six months after the jail had closed.
Consequently, the ethical rules do not bind me to silence with regard to discussions I may have had with Mr. Powell on matters occurring prior to my appointment as County Attorney.
In addressing Mr. Powell’s accusation, I fail to see how he could seriously argue that as County Attorney I failed to provide assistance in keeping our jail open when it had already closed prior to my appointment. Simply put, I do not believe it is fair to blame me for not having the powers of time travel.
Furthermore, even if it could be argued that I failed to provide assistance, as Mr. Powell has done, I simply do not recall him requesting any assistance from me in keeping the jail open. The only conversations that I recall Mr. Powell having with me was to the effect that the jail costs would be less if the jail were closed and the inmates transported to other jails. He did not provide me with any specifics on how he had arrived at his conclusion. I am not the only person with whom he had this discussion. To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Powell’s position in regards to the closing of our jail was not a secret. Therefore, any suggestion that I refused to provide requested assistance in keeping the jail open is not accurate.
As far as any discussions I may have had with county officials in my role as County Attorney, I will be happy to discuss any matters provided those officials provide me with a signed authorization giving me permission to reveal what I consider confidential matters. Let me be clear, I am willing to discuss any matters that came before me as County Attorney provided I receive releases from those whom I owe a duty of confidentiality. I have nothing to hide. Furthermore, I feel that I provided generous assistance and experienced advice to county officials during my tenure as County Attorney. I never refused to assist Mr. Powell or any other county official when I was County Attorney nor have I done so as a private citizen.
As a member of the “TRUTH or POLITICS” team, I am only trying to ascertain information that the concerned citizens of McCreary County have asked me to obtain.
After the Fiscal Court meeting on March 9, 2017, I received information from the Casey County Jailer and Records Custodian that not all of the bills were paid to them for medical expenses of our McCreary prisoners being housed there. I was further told that this was one of the reasons that Casey County was no longer taking McCreary prisoners. Based upon this information, I completed an Open Records Request to the Casey County Jailer and Records Custodian who then sent me the actual June 2016 invoice that had not been paid.
To further verify this story, I went straight to the horse’s mouth. On March 23, 2017, after a special session of the Fiscal Court to raise our taxes, the Fiscal Court held a press conference and took questions. I then asked the Court if any bills had not been paid in reference to the jail situation. At first Judge Stephens said that all the bills had been paid; however, when I pressed him and he saw that I had an invoice from Casey County, Judge Stephens answered, “We owe Casey County medical bills for quite some time.” He went on to explain that they were not paid because of their mistake in how they billed us. This is easily confirmed by going to the “Truth or Politics” Facebook page and watching this meeting.
It is important to note that at that meeting none of the members of the Fiscal Court, nor the Treasurer or Finance officer, said or did anything to correct Judge Stephens on his confirmation of our information. At that point, we had four separate sources confirming this information as well as the actual invoice and a confirmation from Judge Stephens.
Over a week later, we posted a story which included this Casey County invoice. This invoice was just a small fraction of the much larger story. Then and only then did some members of Fiscal Court offer up proof that the bill had been paid. That proof came in the form of canceled checks for May 2016 – the invoice was for June 2016. Because of this, we took an extra step to see if Fiscal Court’s March 23rd confirmation and verification of this invoice was in fact correct.
It now seems that this invoice may have been paid. There may have been a mistake made by the Casey County Treasurer that was subsequently mistakenly verified by Judge Stephens in the March 23rd meeting.
I find it most disturbing that certain members of our Fiscal Court had over a week to come forward with this information and yet chose to sit on it until after we posted our story – then typed the words “fake news”. Again, the invoice was only a small part of our over-all story about the jail and financial situation of our county.
While some members of our Fiscal Court may find this funny or a clever trick to allow verification of information while they sat quiet, then cry “fake news,” I think that the tax payers and voters would much rather have them be much more forthcoming with information when questions are asked and verifications are made. Further, it would also be most helpful if these members of the Fiscal Court would produce the canceled checks for this June invoice. These canceled checks should have been done after the invoice was sent in June.
To our fans and Citizens of McCreary County, this little trick will not deter “Truth or Politics” from continuing to ask the questions to which our citizens desperately want answers to. It would be most helpful if our elected officials and their staff would simply be forthcoming with their answers and not attempt to mislead or hide information from the press and the Citizens of McCreary County, just so that they can later post the words “Fake News.” This does not help anyone nor does it show our elected officials in a positive light.
Mar. 16, 2017
Thanks to all the staff.
You have many sad difficult stories to report, but it is good to keep the public informed.
I enjoy all of your good and interesting stories about the local people. You are doing a great job.
I’ve owned my own business for over 42 years and, as a get-away, served as an engineer at the Big South Fork Scenic Railway on and off for a period of over 20 years. I also served on the McCreary County Heritage Foundation as a Board Member for several years. Because of the utter thanklessness for all of the time, money and ideas that I invested into the operation for naught and finally realizing the futility of ever accomplishing anything positive, I resigned from the operation in January of 2015. I write the following not in the spirit of sour grapes, but as someone who genuinely loves Stearns and the people of McCreary County. Those of you who know me know that I make every effort to be optimistic and positive and to not follow a path of negativity.
I’ve always loved Stearns. I’ve loved the history and heritage of the Stearns Company and the Kentucky & Tennessee Railway. It’s the oldest surviving short line railroad in the state of Kentucky and is a true historic gem. I organized two mainline steam trips from Lexington to Stearns in the 1980s that brought literally thousands of people to the area.
However, today the Big South Fork Scenic Railway and the Stearns Historic District are only realizing just a tiny fraction of their true potential and, if anything, continue on a steady path of decline. I was part of the team who helped pull the railroad out of bankruptcy in 1996 and saw the ridership eventually grow to around 32,000 people a year.
As a business owner and as a past MCHF Board Member, I question the wisdom of turning away two people who have already shown the willingness to make substantial investment into making the operation succeed. Properly managed and promoted, the Big South Fork Scenic Railway and the Stearns Historic district can be a substantial tourism draw that will bring badly needed tourism funds into McCreary County.
Sam and Diana have, in good faith, invested themselves into the operation and have begun making great strides into making it once again a gem for the people of McCreary County. They bring a tremendous opportunity to McCreary County that will never be repeated if their efforts are thwarted and the door slammed in their faces by the MCHF. I am saddened and disgusted at the way they have been treated. Sadly, it appears that they may soon join the list of those of us who truly cared, invested ourselves in the operation, tried to make a positive difference only to be used and discarded like yesterday’s trash.
I pray that wisdom and concern for the people of McCreary County will prevail and that the MCHF Board will become a partner, not an obstacle, in the success of the Big South Fork Scenic Railway. Sam and Diana have shown that they have the right intentions, the ability, and the financial resources to make the Big South Fork Scenic Railway the tremendous success it can be. Please let them get on with the work that desperately needs to be done. Please!
William H. Johnson, Jr.
Mar. 9, 2017
McCreary County Bear Inquiry
I am writing this for the newspaper because I am sure there are other people other than my husband and I that are avid bird watchers and feeders. We have invested in multiple bird feeders throughout the years. I In 2004 we had every one of them destroyed by a black bear in our back yard. Those feeders were not cheap by any standard, we have since then slowly been replacing them.
We want to know when is a safe time to assume the bears will emerge from hibernation so we can take our feeders down and store them away. We don’t want to replace them again because of bears! Also, we would like to know when is it safe to put them out in the fall?
We waited this past November to begin putting them out, hoping that the bears had gone to hibernate. We expend a lot of time and money on our bird activities. We make about 10 pounds of homemade suet every October or November to feed our feathered friends throughout winter as well as investing in multiple types of seeds. As of today, with the weather being up in the 60’s one day and then plummeting down to the 20’s the next, we don’t know whether to keep putting suet and seeds out or not.
Is there any way the rangers or experts can help with this calamity? I am sure it isn’t just us that want and need to know.
Rebecca & Charles Stanley
In response to the letter above The Voice reached out to U.S. Forest Service biologist Joe Metzmeier for information regarding bird feeders and bear activity in our county.
According to U.S. Forest Service biologist Joe Metzmeier, bears can be active at any time of the year but are obviously much more active in the spring and summer. Males may even be active on warm days during the winter months. Bears are opportunists and take advantage of easy and readily available food sources. If a bear visits a feeder, the feeder should be removed immediately so the bear will not return to the same location seeking a reward of more food. There is really no certain time to put out/take in birdfeeders. If possible, feeders should be put up in a manner that makes them inaccessible to bears-but since bears are smart and curious, that can be difficult to do. People have been known to rig pulley systems with cables to keep birdfeeders away from bears. Commercial bear proof birdfeeders are available; however, bears have been known to outsmart some of these feeders. A visit to Bearwise.org will give more information about how humans can coexist peacefully with bears.
This letter is for anyone who lives on “the other side of the tracks” or has to use the railroad crossing in our area. There is a blue sign on each crossing post, just under the RR cross. This sign has a toll free number to Norfolk Southern and a crossing number. Please call this number when you are stuck at the crossing for an extended period of time. I have done so several times and will continue to do so. I have also sent the following letter to Norfolk Southern Railroad and the KY Transportation Cabinet. I will also send it to anyone else I think may listen.
Please join me in making these phone calls and writing these letters.
KY Transportation Cabinet, Division of Planning,
200 Metro Street, Frankfort, KY 40622
Norfolk southern Corporation,
Three Commercial Place,
Norfolk, VA 23510-2191
Doris June Williams
Living on the Other Side of the Tracks
To: Anyone connected to the operation or governing of the Norfolk Southern Railroad.
From: Doris June Williams, 808 Mt. Pleasant Rd., Strunk, KY
Re: Crossing # 841 817L
Date: March 2, 2107
Those of us who use crossing #841 817L in Strunk, KY on a regular basis are becoming increasingly frustrated. Our crossing is being blocked by a stopped train very frequently. Today as I returned home, the crossing was blocked and I had to pull over onto the side of US27 with traffic continuing up and down US27. The person in front of me had just called the railroad and was told it would be 20 minutes. The lady behind me was going to pick someone up for an appointment, she did not have time to wait and by the time she took the alternative route, she would be late.
Two days ago on February 27, 2017, I was running an errand and for 20 minutes I watched a train slowly pass by. After 20 minutes, it stopped with one car and part of another being all that blocked the crossing. I called and that time, the train was moved enough for traffic to cross.
A few days ago, I was on my way to the funeral home because a friend of mine had lost her father and was blocked again. After 20 minutes I called and nothing was done to clear the crossing. It was getting dark and I did not feel safe taking the alternative route so I missed being there for my friend.
In another incident, I had an errand to be run that just had to be done some time that day after my third attempt in several hours, I gave up and used the snow covered alternative route, when I returned, the crossing was still blocked. I called and was told the train was disabled and they were trying to repair it. I asked why the cars weren’t separated if it was going to take so long.
There have been times when I have taken the alternative route and that crossing was blocked also.
I understand the railroad has a business to run and things happen but it should not happen as frequently as it does.
I am retired and have a more flexible schedule than some however, I still have appointments to keep and errands to do. Others have jobs and sick family members.
There are alternative routes but they are lengthy, narrow, curvy and have blind spots. They also do not have a shoulder in many locations and steep drop offs. I expect to hear of accidents on those roads as this crossing is blocked more frequently.
Our road is also an access to the Bear Creek Horse Camp. Tourists do not know the alternative routes neither do new people to our area. I can only imagine their frustration. This could hurt the use of the camp, thus hurting the economy of the already poorest county in the nation.
Cars sitting on the side of US27 waiting for the crossing to clear is also a dangerous situation – an accident waiting to happen.
Something needs to change to help those of us who depend on this crossing. If the railroad cannot make the needed changes, perhaps an underpass should be built.
I am emailing a copy of this letter to the Norfolk Southern railroad. I will also be sending a copy of this letter to The McCreary County Voice and anyone else who I think may be concerned enough to help.
Doris June Williams
Mar. 2, 2017
On behalf of my sister and I and the entire Willie Young family, we would like to “thank you” for the article you did on Cooper Creek. I would have liked a picture of the church but that is okay.
I have shared the article with my family and they loved it. As I read along the article it was like being there. Grandpa would of been proud.
Again thank you and God Bless,
Lois Thompson & Loretta Champion
I am writing to encourage all citizens of McCreary County to take a hard look at the US Forest Service’s “Greenwood Vegetation Management Project,” which involves logging, road-building, prescribed fire, and spraying of herbicides on thousands of acres in McCreary and Pulaski Counties. While the stated intention is “improving wildlife habitat conditions,” I believe this is just an excuse to sell timber at the expense of McCreary County’s beauty and its citizens’ health. My wife and I chose to raise and teach our children just across the Pulaski border on a beautiful tract of land, surrounded by the Boone forest. We raise chickens and harvest honey from own hives. In our future, however, we see smoke from prescribed fires driving us indoors, our honeybees dead from chemical sprays, and trees being hauled off by non-local logging trucks. There will be no economic benefit to McCreary citizens, and the ecological benefits are questionable. I would encourage the Forest Service to complete and evaluate their test project at the site on Highway 90 before moving ahead with such a large project. I am encouraging anyone who cares about the Daniel Boone National Forest to take a few moments to check out two sources to educate themselves: First, go to the Forest Service’s site for their documents: https://www.fs.usda.gov/ project/?project=44085 Second, for explanation and analysis in plain English, read Kentucky Heartwood’s blog: http://www.kyheartwood.org/ Finally, make your voice heard very soon: submit comments to John Hull by the deadline of March 6, 2017 by emailing email@example.com.
Jan 23, 2017
I just read a Letter to the Editor that gave the writer’s long laundry list of things he/she feels is or has been wrong with the County. This person signed the letter “an uninvolved concerned citizen”, after asking to withhold his/her name.
My question is; How can anyone be a “concerned citizen” and be “uninvolved”? If you are uninvolved, can you be concerned? I did not see you when I was the only person who showed up at the school board meeting to discuss their tax rate. I did not hear from you when I filed an injunction to stop the proposed airport tax. You did not offer any assistance when I filed the Circuit Court case that started the discussion on the coal mine. There was no offer from you to help me pay for gas and food when I made trips to help with the proposals to get the coal mine open. I have not heard from you in my continuing efforts for the coal mine.
Don’t take what I have listed as some big “toot my horn” deal, because there are many others who have been working to get more jobs, a jail, and a better place to live. We are blessed with a Sheriff who personally gets involved with any potential project to improve the County. The County Clerk has made trips to talk with other counties’ industrial development people. There are Magistrates who have met with jailers and state officials to try and find some help for the jail situation. The Circuit Court Clerk has spent his personal time to meet with others in an attempt to lower the County’s costs. There are many people in the County who are not elected officials who try every day to open, improve, and expand their business to provide more jobs for the people of our County. Any teacher who is dedicated and doing their job is seriously underpaid.
So don’t tell me you are a concerned citizen but uninvolved. That is offensive to all of us who are involved and trying to make this a better place for you and for us. If you want ideas about becoming involved, come to my office any day and we will discuss what you can do. Check with the Sheriff to see if you can help or ask the drug court. Ask one of the clerks or just start with your neighbor. Together we can answer many of our concerns by becoming involved.
If we are all in this sinking boat together, don’t spend the time and effort telling us who knocked holes in the bottom, but instead grab a bucket and help the rest of us bail water.
Still Hopeful for the Future,
Bruce W. Lominac, J.D.
McCreary County PVA, SKA
Hello everyone I would just like to spread the word about three programs that can really help citizens of McCreary County get jobs. The first is “Ready To Work” and “Work And Learn”, which is through the Somerset Community College. This program is for people on KTAP and allows them to go to college or get their GED while being paid $7.25 an hour for working at host agencies. Doing this program is a great opportunity for people in McCreary County to get an education to reach their long term career goals, while still recieving benefits and pay to provide for their household in the process.
The second program is one that will pay 180 hours of a new employees wages. Through this program employers get 180 hours risk free to try out new employees. Then after the 180 hours if they are not good workers the employer can let them go. Or if they are good workers the employer can keep them on and the employer starts paying the employees wages. This program is a great way for citizens in McCreary County to get their foot in the door for jobs they maybe interested in. It is also a great opportunity for businesses to have a 180 day risk free trial period for new employees.
The third program is one that offers help with tuition or training cost. This can be used for things such as CDL’S, nursing, industrial maintenance, and many others. If any adult in McCreary County is interested in gaining more job skills and needs help paying for it this program is a great opportunity. It can be for people that are layed off or just people who are seeking job skills to gain employment. While working here at the McCreary County Park I have been able to benefit from using various programs. Without these programs many organizations, like the park, would not have help to run their facilities. The even bigger picture is that these programs help the citizens of McCreary County. McCreary County should get its fair share of the money delegated for programs such as the ones mentioned. In order for that to happen we have to spread the word and make citizens of McCreary County knowledgeable about these programs. Thank you and please help spread the word.
McCreary County Park
Jan 19, 2017
I am asking first that my name be withheld due to comments I am going to make in this letter. People in the school system / County government can cause problems for loved ones. While not affecting me directly, administrators could cause problems for my children.
Last week’s front page raised many issues that should be asked. How is it that some people can avoid the Occupational Tax…is it because our “tax collector” doesn’t even know where al the businesses are in the county? Do all landlords pay tax on their rental property?---I know they don’t!! What about all the businesses that ‘pretend’ to be “weekly yard deals/ local grown produce”, not untaxed businesses’. If these people paid their Occupational taxes it would lessen the burn on those that operate legal.
911--How many individuals / business’ decide to NOT PAY this “optional tax”. I thought a tax was a tax--I didn’t know taxes were optional. I’m guessing there are at least 300 people a month that don’t pay their fair share. There are many business’s that have multiple lines of telephones but avoid this tax. The county should publish this list back to the inception of 911, just like they do for those that don’t pay property tax. If they don’t pay their tax on their phone, cut it off. Can I withhold the state and federal tax on my bill--is it optional?
Fiscal Court is now looking to put additional taxes on the “working citizens” that already pay while others get a “pass”, Why? So the county can pay to support those that break the law, and get free medical, a warm place to stay and three meals a day…while many of our law abiding citizens shiver in poorly heated homes and kids don’t have enough to eat---but by all means, let us give priority to those that break the law!
Before I leave the Fiscal Court, Why all the silence on the 100+ new jobs that were coming when the nation was going to ship it’s garbage to Greenwood before the last election? What’s going on with the company that was going to reopen the mine in Stearns…has anyone in the court house even spoke to these people…did any of our Fiscal Court go to the meeting where it was announced and offer to even write a letter of support if needed? There was one business that went out of business in McCreary County, due to state action, three years ago and the county lost 70 jobs, but not even a letter of support to help the owners stay in McCreary County. We won’t even bring up the trucking company in Winfield that was never induced to come to our county.
School system…congratulations to our local basketball team and football team for the great season you are having / had. Guess it makes a difference when you hire a qualified coach(s). Noted with interest that when Mr. Jones retired (finally) he had won, what around 200 games in 17 years???? an average of 12 games a year and many years not many. Must be nice to have your job protected by your aunt on the school board. Current BB team has already won as many games as Mr. Jones career average, at barely half way through the season. Wonder when he is going to retire as Athletic Director so the entire McCreary County Sports program can move forward. Sometimes you can be a decent player but if you have an attitude and can’t get an attitude adjustment…you can ruin the entire team.
Again congratulations to this year’s Football team that had the best winning percentage in the high schools history…and to the Basketball team who’s ranking in the Lexington Herald today is the highest it has been in the region in years. My apologies to all the good players / teams McCreary County has had over the last 10-15 years that played under inept coaches and did not have the chance to reach their potential.
One additional question…does the school system have a dress code for staff? When I pick up my children at school, I many times see teachers dress like they are doing yard work…jeans and Tee shirt. How can we teach our children to be neat and professional when the maintenance staff (no slam at these people) dress nicer than those with college degrees?
Just a few random comments from an uninvolved concerned citizen. Good reporting to let us know what’s going on in the county.
After 90 years, I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to sit here in the comfort of my living room and watch and learn about our political system. I have watched the recent presidential election, cabinet confirmation hearings, and look forward to the televised inauguration events.
With television allowing us to watch the process from our homes, I hope people, both young and old, will learn about the process of selecting and electing those who govern our country.
I feel blessed, at this age and time, to have the opportunity to learn about this process.
I think all of us owe a great debt of gratitude to our founding fathers who so wisely initiated our process of government.
The foresight of our early leaders in designing the Electoral College so that each state is represented in a fair and equitable manner is amazing. The recent election illustrates the importance of the Electoral College. When one state, such as California, determines the popular vote, the Electoral College evens the vote out fairly by reflecting the vote of the majority of states. The Electoral College equalizes and gives voice to all states and citizens and recognizes the diversity of our nation.
Prior to the election, I prayed the minds and hearts of our people would be directed to vote in the way that would be in the best interest of all in our country.
Now, I continue to pray to God for Him to give President-elect Trump guidance in directing us according to the way of our founding fathers.
My hope and prayer is that God will empower our new President to bring our country together by extending compassion, love, and kindness to those who have opposed him. It would make me happy to hear him express himself in a more unifying manner and maybe, in time, be able to ignore some of the more personal attacks against him.
I think we are fortunate to have President Trump who has proven himself as capable of success and in choosing responsible people to surround and advise him during his administration. He has chosen people who have proven their leadership and success in their chosen endeavors. It might be difficult, at times, for President Trump to take the recommendations of his Cabinet. Hopefully, he will be able to rely on those he has chosen to advise him.
In closing, I’m looking forward to the new administration. I’m looking forward with prayer and faith to the success of this administration.
In addition to all of the above, I am wishing each and every one of you a healthy, happy, prosperous new year.
Kathleen Marnhount Foley
Jan 12, 2017
Larry and Janie Meadows take this opportunity to graciously thank all who assisted in our time of need. Thank you the the Whitley City, North McCreary and Pine Knot fire departments for their response. Thank you to Pine Knot Primary and all the individuals who contributed clothes, food, and monetary donations which allowed us to get back on our feet. We may have lost our home and many irreplaceable mementos, but we are very lucky to live in a community that comes together to help one another in their times of greatest need. God Bless you all.
Also a very big thank you to our Marine Hero (Kenny Carson) who saved our lives that morning.
Larry and Janie Meadows
Jan 5, 2017
I would be remiss not to take a moment and thank the incredible people of McCreary County for their oft-overwhelming support of the McCreary County Museum’s Christmas efforts: the 2nd Annual Christmas Candlelight Tour, which took place on Saturday, December 10, 2016, the Community Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, and the Store 1 Window display, themed “A Miracle on 34th Street,” which opened a week earlier.
In 2015, it was a tough decision to alter the tradition of the museum’s annual open house, which took place during our regular business hours, but for many reasons, we’re so glad that we followed our instincts and took that leap. The nighttime event is unquestionably festive. Seeing visitors, bundled in their winter finery, bustling across the 109 year old veranda harkens back to an earlier time, when Christmas was about family and community and the togetherness that is so often lost in the hustle of our modern society. The beauty of our museum, and the splendor of events such as ours, is that we’re able to bring people together. For the past two years, we’ve enjoyed seeing families – mothers, fathers, children, and grandparents – make ours a family occasion, and the laughter and joy brought through our doors by long-friends, who have chosen to make the museum their Christmas tradition, is cherished.
Unquestionably, that energy takes flight and warms the winter chill. In the dreamy, warm glow of candles and Christmas lights, the museum does spring to life, and the holiday spirit absorbs the building, its staff, and our visitors like at no other time of the year. We are so thankful for that, and for that, it’s my favorite event of the year.
Despite my joy for the event and its success, it is, without question, a team effort, and I’m forever grateful for the help and support of the museum’s staff and volunteers who have poured their hearts and talents into this 2016 Christmas season. There simply would not have been any event without them, and, while events such as these are often thankless for those behind the scenes, I’m a firm believer that we give credit where credit is due, and these wonderfully talented and supportive people should be recognized. For gifts in kind, our thanks to: Allen Campbell, Kathy Lockhart, Katy Gilreath, Shelley Gilreath, Aimee Strunk, Sue Pendergraft, Brenda Payne, Doug Meece, Barb Edwards, Mehg Marshall, The Neal Family, Beth Ann Kilburn, Ally Van Hook, Whitney Watson, Boyd Parriman, Mike Nagle, Cody Gibson, Brian McKee, Mickey’s Southern Charm Flower Shop, Lowe’s of Corbin and Somerset, Pottery by Mehg, Whistle Stop at Big South Fork, Pine Knot Job Corps, the Choir of Stearns First Baptist Church, and Kroger of Whitley City. For monetary donations, we’d like to thank: Forcht Bank/Forcht Group of Kentucky, Outdoor Venture Corporation, United Cumberland Bank, Crabtree-Wilson Insurance, and The Gilreath Family. For coverage in the media, advertising our event, and/or coverage of the event on the night, we want to thank WHAY Radio, Eugenia Jones with the McCreary County Voice, and all who took time to share the event on social media, and to everyone who has expressed their appreciation and enjoyment of the museum’s efforts and events, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
The McCreary County Museum is fortunate and grateful to have such wonderful support, and we look forward to continuing our service to McCreary County. We wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.
Shane Gilreath, Director
McCreary County Museum