Education and the region’s drug problem were among the priorities identified. Improved roads and infrastructure were also targeted as keys to turning around the slumping economy.
It’s easy to lose perspective when dealing with problems you see and read about day after day, but in order to fix problems such as increased drug abuse, we must improve the economy and provide more jobs. And if you’re going to provide more jobs, you’d better find a way to make it easier for people to get in and out of Harlan County with better roads.
Short-term thinking helped us get in the mess we’re in now. The problem with not making roads among the top priorities at all times is this: If you don’t keep constant pressure on state leaders, we’ll be in the same position in 20 years.
You can always find an issue at any point in time that could arguably be considered the most pressing, but communities that hope to have a bright future should be looking at both short- and long-term priorities.
Roads won’t be built in a few weeks or months. We have to get in line as soon as we can and start trying to push our way ahead of some of the projects in communities that clearly don’t need improved roads as badly as Harlan County.
There’s no doubt I’m prejudiced, but I can’t think of a county, at least in the eastern half of the state, that needs more help in improving its transportation system, and we must have leaders who won’t let up on this issue.
Harlan County was once larger and more prosperous than eastern Kentucky neighbors such as Laurel, Pike, Perry and Whitley counties. What did they have to help them grow that we didn’t?
Good leadership and good roads are my answers.