Editorial: Zero is the only rate increase that shows the people have the power

Kentucky Power announced last week that the company has offered a settlement agreement to the Kentucky Public Service Commission, which calls for a 9 percent rate increase for residential customers instead of the originally proposed increase of 15 percent. At PSC’s public meeting regarding Kentucky Power’s rate increase application that was held in Hazard earlier this month, the people made it clear that they cannot afford any increase, period.
The people are not haggling with Kentucky Power in hopes of receiving a better deal on electricity. Instead, the people are pleading for the PSC to stand up for them. The people’s message is not open for interpretation. Folks in the mountains are struggling and raising the cost of electricity could crush them financially.
The Perry County Fiscal Court, Hazard City Commission, state Sen. Brandon Smith and State Rep. Chris Fugate have made their opposition to a rate increase known to Kentucky Power and PSC. The same is true for surrounding districts. Last winter, the Jackson City Commission discussed the difficulty the city’s government was having paying higher electric bills at some of its public facilities prior to the recent rate increase application.
Many residents addressed PSC officials during the public meeting in Hazard earlier this month. Not a single person voiced support for the increase. The people are unified when it comes to this issue. There has been no debate among Kentucky Power customers. If PSC allows Kentucky Power to raise its rates, even if the increase is 9 percent instead of 15, this will indicate that the unified voice of the people meant nothing.
The testimonies of residents such as Doug Bryant and Alice Craft, who addressed PSC officials at the Hazard meeting, were not cries for help from people who need advice on how to make their homes more energy efficient. Rather, they told the stories of people who are struggling to pay for any electricity at all. When they spoke, they were not haggling with Kentucky Power. They were not even speaking to Kentucky Power. Their message was intended for PSC. They want their government to know that this issue is vital to their welfare and they want their government to show them that they matter.
Decisions in government are often tough. However, when the people are suffering and they stand in unity behind a cause, the decision should be simple for a government that is designed to protect them. In this situation, zero is the only number that shows the people have the power.

Editorial: Celebrate veterans every day, not just on Veterans Day

While it’s important to have a day where we celebrate our veterans and the sacrifices they gave to their country, we need to celebrate and honor them every day.
No veteran should be homeless or without a job in Perry County and the country as a whole. No veteran should be forced to struggle through PTSD alone. Veterans need access to mental health services and healthcare.
When the federal government can’t step in to help veterans because of funding, the community needs to come together to help veterans.
Non-profit organizations, such as Hope House homeless shelter and Second Chance Mission, do an admirable job in helping residents in Perry County be fed, clothed and a roof under their heads.
Veteran run organizations like the VFW play a vital role in helping veterans and their families. It also helps veterans talk with other that may be experiencing the same struggles as they are. The group has an upcoming ceremony and luncheon on Nov. 11 starting at 11 a.m. They encourage everyone to attend.
The community needs to come together and support VFW throughout the whole year, not just on Veterans Day.
VFW itself believes in community service. The group has already started taking donations of gently used toys for its “Light-A-Child’s Christmas” program.
This would be a prime opportunity for businesses, schools and organizations to come together to help VFW’s fundraiser.
Another invaluable resource for veterans in Perry County is the Eastern Kentucky Veterans Center. The main purpose of the center is to take care of the region’s veterans.
Each year, county clerks come together to sell birdhouses in order to give veterans a special Christmas party at the center. Last year, the county clerks raised $100,000 with $30,000 of that going to the center. The county clerks also made sure the veterans received what they asked for Christmas.
Perry County Clerk Haven King is heavily involved with the center and deserves recognition for his role.
Community members need to visit the veterans regularly and just keep them company.
We need to strive to do more for our veterans and constantly find ways to improve what we already do for them.
So, remember to celebrate and thank veterans every day, not just this Saturday.

Guest editorial: National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

If your medicine cabinet is getting crowded with old, unusable or outdated prescriptions or over-the-counter medications, you’re in luck.
On Saturday, many police departments will participate in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.
From 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., departments will accept expired or unwanted medication. Only pills or capsules will be accepted; liquids or sharp items are not welcome.
Police ask that participants bring their unwanted medications loose in clear plastic bags and leave the pill bottles, especially with identifying information, at home.
At the end of the four hours, the surrendered medication will be consolidated with other agencies’ collections and disposed of.
The Environment Protection Agency encourages the public to take advantage of pharmaceutical take-back collection programs that accept prescription or OTC drugs.
These programs offer a safe and environmentally-conscious way to dispose of unwanted medicines.
The EPA recommends that household pharmaceuticals collected during a take-back event or program to be incinerated.
Most importantly, the EPA warns against flushing expired or undated prescription and over-the-counter drugs down the toilet or drain unless the label or accompanying patient information specifically instructs you to do so.
While take-back programs are the safest and preferred method, the EPA and the Office of National Drug Control Policy offer these recommendations for home disposal:
• Take prescription drugs out of their original container.
• Mix the drugs with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or coffee grounds.
• Put the mixture into a disposable container with a lid, such as an empty butter tub, or sealable bag.
• Conceal or remove any personal information, including the RX number, on the empty containers by covering it with a permanent marker or duct take or by scratching it off.
• The sealable container with the drug mixture and the empty drug containers can now be placed in the trash.
There are many reasons we should be conscious and careful when disposing of medications. Proper disposal of medicine is important to protect the community and the environment.
Proper disposal prevents accidental poisoning of children and pets and deters misuse by teenagers and other adults.
Proper disposal of medicine also helps avoid health problems from accidentally taking the wrong medicine, too much of the same medicine or a medicine that is too old to work well.
By disposing of medicine at home in the proper way or taking advantage of medicine take-back programs, you can also keep drugs from entering streams or rivers when they are poured down the drain or flushed down the toilet.
The EPA warns that medicines can end up in our drinking water.
“In homes that use septic tanks, prescription and over-the-counter drugs flushed down the toilet can leach into the ground and seep into groundwater,” according to the EPA’s “How to Dispose of Medicine Properly” handout. “In cities and towns where residences are connected to wastewater treatment plants, drugs poured down the sink or flushed down the toilet can pass through the treatment system and enter rivers and lakes. They may flow downstream to serve as sources for community drinking water supplies. Water treatment plants are generally not equipped to remove medicines.”
For more information about the importance of proper medicine disposal, visit
Take some time to clean out your medicine cabinet and protect the community and the environment while you’re at it.

— The Winchester Sun

Editorial: Classic Movie Nights will bring more foot traffic to downtown

If you’re walking down Main Street Hazard past 5 p.m. through the week, you’d notice a lack of foot traffic. While it’s easy to place the blame on the lack of foot traffic to the decline of the coal industry and give up, that thinking isn’t the way to move Perry County and Hazard forward.
That is why it is important for residents of Hazard and Perry County to come together and support efforts by others to turn Hazard/Perry County into a beacon it once was for businesses and entertainment.
One of these Hazard residents that is trying to move forward despite all obstacles is Ben Fugate. Most know Ben as the pastor of the Journey Christian Church and as the operator of the Hope House homeless shelter in Hazard.
Ben often uses the hashtag #WhyNotHazard when a new business, manufacturing plant or new entertainment centers open across the areas surrounding Eastern Kentucky.
Recently, Ben decided to bring family-friendly fun to downtown Hazard in the form of Classic Movie Nights, which will have its grand premiere Oct. 20. Classic Movie Nights will have free admission. Fugate came up with the idea that local organizations in Perry County could set up concession stands and generate revenue for their organization.
The first night, Oct. 20, will feature “Hocus Pocus”. Kids are encouraged to dress up in the their Halloween costumes.
The second night, Oct. 21, will feature “Psycho”, a more adult-themed movie.
Both movie nights start at 7 p.m.
It’s important for the community to come out and support these types of events, programs and ideas. Our community can’t always depend on the government to swoop in and save us.
We have to be the change we want to see in the community.
It’s also important for local officials to get behind these types of ideas, something for which Ben praised Perry County Judge-Executive Scott Alexander. Ben said he explained what he wanted to do with the Classic Movie Nights to Scott and Scott gave him his blessing and support.
Ben wanted to use the old circuit courtroom in the fiscal court building because he felt it would be the perfect spot in downtown Hazard. Without the support of Scott, the movie nights would have either been moved or not happen at all.
Other citizens need to have confidence in their ideas and bring them before our local officials and the community as a whole.
The only way our community will survive is if we come together as one.

Editorial: With tourism, the town is the attraction

When Seth Wheat of the Kentucky Tourism Commission visited Hazard last week to discuss the process of gaining official Trail Town certification from the state, he made one point very clear. The city of Hazard will play a more important role in tourism efforts than any trail that runs through it.
Local leaders and organizations are already working on plans for trail development in Perry County. Grants have been secured to help with the development of trails at Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park and the Perry County Park. Wheat said the North Fork of the Kentucky River serves as a trail itself and it already runs right through the heart of town.
However, when Wheat talked about steps Hazard must take to gain certification, he did not say trails in Perry County have to be the longest or most adventurous. Wheat suggested that, if Hazard gains certification, local trails will likely still be under development. Trail Town certification for Hazard, according to Wheat, depends on how attractive our town is to tourists.
This does not mean we need flashy casinos or expensive stadiums in order to attract tourists. A little bit of pride and charm will go a long way, according to Wheat.
Tourists like towns that are unique. Therefore, it is important for local citizens to support local businesses.
The way we feel about Hazard resonates with potential tourists. When someone from another region stops at a restaurant and asks a waiter to describe the town, that person will develop an opinion of the town based on what the waiter says. The Kentucky Tourism Commission sends people into businesses to study ways the residents describe the area before making a decision on Trail Town certification, according to Wheat. We must have pride in ourselves if we are to succeed.
There are plenty of reasons for the people of Hazard to be proud. Last week, one of the nation’s biggest rock stars, Brett Michaels, held a concert in town. There was a car show at a shopping center, a fall festival in Vicco and a political rally focusing on an issue of great interest to every teacher in the state. When it comes to captivating an audience, no one can do a better job than Mother Nature. For the next few weeks, the leaves changing color across the Appalachian Mountains will become one of the most beautiful spectacles in the world. Hazard does not have to spend a dime to make this happen.
Perry County is home to Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park. The Kentucky River runs alongside Main Street in Hazard. The potential to attract tourists is strong.
The problems we have are problems that exist across the country. However, the attractions we have are not available in many towns. As we move forward with efforts to gain Trail Town certification, the question should not be; how can we become a tourist destination? Instead, the question should be; how can we not be a tourist destination?
The potential for a thriving tourism economy in Perry County already exists. It is up to us as a community to stand together with pride and blaze the trail.