I was extremely lucky to attend the program on July 31 at the Kentucky Coal Museum in Benham, Ky. The event was great and featured many local talents from the “Higher Ground“ group, doing story telling, singing and a talk/demonstration by guest artist and television host Jimmy DiResta. They were all great. The entire event stemmed from a new exhibit that has been on view at the museum recently. The title of the exhibit, “What Next” Sustainable Harlan: Energy For Change. MAKE/DO: A performance/community discussion.
There were many new and inventive ideas talked about and discussed during the program, but one thing that really stuck in my mind was the huge wooden display the group had made that spelled out the words, “MAKE/DO.” Sometimes we must do just that, “MAKE/DO” with what we have in order to get by. Most of the time when we do “MAKE/DO” things do turn out just as we planned.
I must say at this time, in order to have a sustainable Harlan County and be able to maintain our “Energy For Change” we will have to “MAKE/DO.”
I have been in many different meetings and have been as guilty as the next person to complain that we do not have sufficient highways/roads for bringing industry into our little corner of the world. In my opinion, yes, Frankfort and our legislators wrote new highways off for our area many years ago. Our severance tax returns are almost gone. In other words, and read my lips. “NO NEW ROADS.” That is no new roads for Harlan County. So now we must “MAKE/DO,” with what we got.
Sometime back we had railroads to about every town in our county, recently though, the railroad ties and steel tracks in most areas have been pulled and sold. But, you still see the thousands of tons of coal, that is still being mined, leaving just as it always has. It’s just being hauled away in big trucks now.
This got me to thinking about many things concerning our county and the transportation of goods in and out of the area. Our main and about only industry is coal mining. Even though we must travel nearly a hundred miles to our nearest interstate highway there is nothing that has ever stopped getting the huge equipment for coal mining into our county. The continuous mining machines, the continuous haulage equipment, the huge highwall mining machines, the enormous drills, rock haul trucks, the rock dust trucks, the roof bolt trucks, the car haul trucks that bring our new or used vehicles, the trucks that bring our food we eat. In other words we get our needs in and our only product out.
We “MAKE/DO,” with what we have. We actually get by pretty good when you think about it. So why do we not have more industry in our area than we do? I can’t answer that, but I think our politicians can. In my opinion they don’t want new industry in our area. They must not or they would have prepared for the days we now face. Coal jobs at their lowest and no other jobs available.
I was also surprised that there were many of our local politicians absent. I could be wrong and I know I will rightly be corrected if so, but I did not see any of our county magistrates or our county judge executive or the others running for this position. I did not see any of our state representatives or senators. I did not see our local mayors or many of our local city council members.
That’s OK though. We’ll just have to “MAKE/DO.” I know we can do it too.