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Louisa-Lawrence Co, KY

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Chris JobeLawrence County Clerk Chris Jobe, attended the Kentucky County Clerk's Association Spring Conference June 5th - 8th in Louisville. While at the conference, Jobe, who has served as county clerk since 2002, attended numerous training sessions that were geared toward helping county clerks become more knowledgeable about their offices.

Some of the sessions focused on election procedures, while others focused on new procedures for recordings, and titling and registration of motor vehicles.

Kentucky Secretary of State Allison Grimes and Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts Mark Harmon were the featured speakers.

They discussed ways to work with local county clerks in finding ways for both to better serve the public. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Kentucky Auto Dealer Commission, Kentucky Library and Archives and Homeland Security were some of the other speakers at the Conference. US Custom & Border Patrol also gave a presentation regarding marriage fraud.

County Clerks who attended the conference received training credit for the sessions they attended as part of their continuing education.



Tyler Martin and Dr. Stephenson - Tyler Martin, a BSCTC Fiber Optics graduate, left, explains splicing of fiber optic cabling to Dr. Devin Stephenson, president of Big Sandy Community and Technical College during the SOAR Innovation Summit on Monday, June 6, at the Eastern Kentucky Expo Center.


PIKEVILLE, Ky. – Dr. Devin Stephenson, president of Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC), participated in a panel discussion entitled: Tech Hire and the Digital Economy at the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) conference on Monday, June 6 at the East Kentucky Expo Center. 

“It was an honor to talk about the possibilities and opportunities of innovation and collaboration that can – and is – going on across eastern Kentucky,” said Dr. Stephenson. “We are at a crossroads of opportunity.  It’s ours for the taking.”

Others participating in the panel discussion were Jeff Whitehead, executive director of the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP); Paul Green, Ed.D., director of the Appalachian Technology Institute at the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative; and Ankur Gopal, CEO of Interapt. 

Dr. Stephenson based his presentation on a quote from President Harry Truman: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

“We want to partner, leverage resources and watch the economies of scale work,” he told those in attendance. “When we work within the realm of true collaboration and innovation, we must collectively labor to be solution seekers and problem solvers.  We must understand that we are the pieces to the puzzle of true transformation that will affect not only our generation, but generations to come.”

Big Sandy Community and Technical College was the first college in Kentucky to launch a Fiber Optics training program last year. 

More than $3.2 million in grants from the Economic Development Agency, Appalachian Regional Commission and Community Development Block Grant has led to the construction of the state’s first Advanced Technology Center.  The facility, which will open next year, will be the first fiber-to-the-desk structure in Kentucky and will house the college’s new Broadband Technology degree program which was approved earlier this year by the Kentucky Community and Technical College (KCTCS) Board of Regents.  The program is just the third of its kind in the United States. 

Date: 06-07-2016

High-speed Internet project would help efforts to boost Eastern Ky. economy, officials say 

PIKEVILLE - Innovative projects aimed at improving the economy and quality of life of Eastern Kentucky were the theme of a conference in Pikeville Monday, and there were examples in fields from telemedicine and education to agriculture.

One thing nearly all the ideas have in common, however, is that they could benefit from high-speed Internet service, said Jared Arnett, executive director of Shaping Our Appalachian Region, or SOAR, which put on the summit.

Broadband would create a “totally different market potential” for enterprises in the region, Arnett said.

“With greater access and greater affordability, the potential for Eastern Kentucky grows,” he said.

A project to build access to high-speed Internet service throughout the region has been a focus of SOAR.

The initial goal of that project, called KentuckyWired, was to install 3,400 miles of fiber-optic cable statewide at a cost of well over $300 million. The service was to come first to Eastern Kentucky, however, where deep coal-industry layoffs have hurt the economy.

Officials initially said the project would be done in Eastern Kentucky by April 2016. That didn’t happen.

Officials in Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration have said one hold-up was a problem with how the project was structured under his predecessor, Gov. Steve Beshear, which jeopardized funding needed to pay for the system.

There is progress on the project, however, officials said Monday.

The Kentucky Communications Network Authority, which will operate KentuckyWired, has signed a deal with Cincinnati Bell on construction of 166 miles of fiber optic cable in Northern Kentucky.

That piece was needed to bring broadband down Interstate 75 to Eastern Kentucky, said Lonnie Lawson, a member of the authority board and head of the Center for Rural Development in Somerset.

SOAR LogoLawson said work also continues on agreements needed to attach cable for the high-speed network to poles in the region.

And on another front, five local telecommunications providers in Eastern Kentucky have reached an agreement in principal to partner with KentuckyWired through access to infrastructure the providers already have in place, said Keith Gabbard, manager of Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative in Jackson County.

Bevin said at the meeting Monday that Eastern Kentucky remains a focus of the broadband project.

Speakers at the summit said much of rural Kentucky is on the wrong side of the “digital divide” between places with fast service and those without.

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said that 34 percent of houses in rural Kentucky can’t access Internet service with a download speed of 25 megabytes per second, the new minimum federal broadband standard.

Some rural communications providers have overcome that divide. For instance, the co-op Gabbard oversees used $50 million, much of it from federal grants and loans, to make Internet service with speeds of up to one gigabit available to every home in Jackson and Owsley counties.

Wheeler lauded such efforts to expand the digital economy in Eastern Kentucky.

“If you don’t have that connectivity, you’re simply not part of the new economy,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler said private companies won’t extend broadband to all homes, meaning government spending is necessary to provide the service in less populated places.

Rogers and Beshear started SOAR in late 2013. The goal was to come up with ideas to improve the economy of the region and bring people together to tackle solutions.

Bevin has shown strong support for the initiative since replacing Beshear.

Monday was the third summit for the initiative.

Rogers said he was excited about the opportunity to discuss efforts to boost jobs and improve education and health care in the region.

“We’re off the ground,” he said of the initiative.

By Bill Estep
Lexington Herald-Leader


City to have executive session to discuss lawsuits

Sent by City Clerk Kathy Compton

JUNE 02, 2016

Harlan County, Kentucky, "where miners’ fierce battles against deadly working conditions remain a symbol of union grit and militance . . . has occupied an outsized place in the American consciousness," Jeff Kelly Lowenstein writes for In These Times, noting the 1976 documentary Harlan County, U.S.A. But now, "Harlan is also an emblem of the hard times that have fallen on coal country."

Chester Napier: "Thecoal will never be back."Eastern Kentucky has lost more than half its coal jobs in the last five years, and that "presents young people with a hard choice. Many end up leaving families behind to seek factory work in cities or mining jobs in southern Illinois or Alabama," Lowenstein writes.

Some laid-off miners "are placing their hopes in a Donald Trump presidency to revive the moribund coal industry," Lowenstein reports. "Others, like Bobby Simpson, draw on religious faith and a ceaseless work ethic to keep going." Simpson, who is blind, runs the Cranks Creek Survival Center, "a nonprofit that provided food, clothing and home repairs to area residents for decades" but now as no money. "All agree on the region’s bleak present and dim future."

“It’s not good,” Chester Napier, 75, a former mine truck driver. “Some of the politicians say they’ll bring the coal back, but the coal will never be back.” 

Written by Al Cross