Editorial: Keep politics out of healthcare

The healthcare roundtable discussion hosted by Sen. Rand Paul at the Wendell Ford Airport last Monday was attended by several members of the community including leaders in the healthcare field and local business owners.
Paul’s plan would place those people on individual policies into group policies. His plan would have those people on individual plans to gain membership to associations to places like the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and then have that association bargain for a group plan for its members.
Paul also mentioned the need to have open, honest debates about healthcare.
There were no insults thrown during the discussion. Some of the healthcare leaders had legitimate questions for Paul and he did his best to answer those questions.
The United States has become a nation divided between conservatives and liberals, between left and right beyond. Just check the Facebook comments made on national and local media links. One side calls the other a name and it spirals out of control from there. Instead of having thoughtful debates, it boils down to who can insult the other with the most colorful language. Nothing is solved this way. This hatred has come to the point where friends and neighbors are separated by their politics. This hurts our community when one side believes the other isn’t a part of the community because of their politics.
This leads to liberals calling conservatives heartless for not wanting a single-payer healthcare system and conservatives telling liberals that they are nothing but a bunch of free-loading socialists.
It’s pointless fighting and detracts from the real debate on how we can improve our healthcare system. We need to keep politics out of healthcare.
While it is ultimately up to state and federal legislators as to what type of healthcare this country will have, our community needs to come together and help the elderly, sick and less fortunate locally.
There are numerous solutions at the federal, state and even local levels. We don’t have to be a divided community. We need to lay off the personal attacks and realize that our neighbors and community members are like us: they have friends and family that they love, they go to work or school, and they contribute to our community by paying taxes.
We need to move past this “us versus them” mentality. Life is too short and precious to waste it on political divisions.

Editorial: It is okay to like the new school
A new era will begin for several hundred students in Perry County on Aug. 17, as they officially become West Perry Warriors. Many students, staff and parents have voiced excitement for the new facility. However, opposition to the school’s construction has also been strong.
Before everyone can come together in uniform support of West Perry Elementary, two things must happen. First, the community needs to understand that those opposed to the school’s opening are not merely older generations longing to hold onto the schools they attended when they were young.
Three schools have closed as a result of West Perry’s establishment. Willard Elementary served as the epicenter of the small community where it was located. Last year, Willard produced the state championship STLP team. Willard school consisted of students from the Willard community and those kids gave the community every reason to feel a sense of pride. The STLP state championship was only one example of Willard’s kids making a small community shine in a way that would be difficult to do without the school. Those students will remain just as bright and talented at the new school, but now their accomplishments will not be attributed to merely the small community where generations of their families have lived.
A.B. Combs was once the largest elementary school in Perry County. Community events were regularly held at the school throughout the past four decades. The gymnasium and trophy case ran out of room for all of the banners and trophies. The elementary school scored the highest level of Distinguished on last year’s tests. The number of professionals from A.B. Combs in the local workforce would be difficult to count.
The Chavies community thought they were receiving a new school a few years ago. As it turned out, their school closed to help form West Perry. Parents, staff and even local government officials spoke to the Perry County Board of Education during a special meeting to protest the school district’s change of plans. The folks in Chavies went from preparing for a brand new school in their community to having the doors of the school in their community close forever. The residents in all three of the communities who are joining together to form West Perry have legitimate reasons for feeling the sting of loss.
The second thing that must happen for everyone to finally unite in support of the new school is acceptance of the truth. Consolidation is the only way Perry County schools can receive the funding they need from the state to keep up with modern demands in education. The state now allocates funds based on enrollment. This method favors metropolitan schools over rural schools, like most regulations do, but for now, there is little anyone can do to change the situation. About all we can do in Southeastern Kentucky is join forces. Thus, East Perry opened a few years ago. West Perry is opening this year. South Perry is coming within the next few years and, once South Perry is built, R.W. Combs, Viper and Leatherwood schools will close.
The good news is that West Perry is state-of-the art in a way that only a new facility could be. One of West Perry’s major focuses in, not only curriculum, but, also design, is STLP education. So, those students with STLP state championship talents will now have the tools necessary to possibly hone those talents into careers at NASA, or even better, careers developing aerospace technologies right here at home. These modern advances exist for other areas of study as well.
The trophy case at West Perry is empty for now, but as it begins to fill, the achievements will include extra-curricular activities in which the students who win the awards would not have had the opportunity to participate at the smaller schools. As time goes by, each community’s sense of pride will consolidate as well.
The closing of the three schools that are consolidating to form West Perry has, without a doubt, left a void in each community. However, the new school will provide new opportunities for our kids. Ultimately, the kids are what it is all about, and an opportunity is all they need.


Is borrowing $2.5M in bonds the solution to fiscal court’s woes?

Last Tuesday, the Perry County Fiscal Court passed the first reading of a petition to borrow $2.5 million in bonds to help resurface county roads, projects, and purchase new equipment to replace outdated equipment that has been failing for some time.
District 1 Magistrate Keith Miller was the sole, “no” vote against the petition. He said he was against the petition because the fiscal court has already borrowed enough money.
The fiscal court, if the petition is passed after the second reading, plans to use occupational tax proceeds to repay the bonds. They will commit $300,000 a year for the next 10 years if the petition passes a second reading.
There is no doubt that the fiscal court is in a tough spot economically. The county has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in coal severance funds, unmined minerals tax funds, property tax funds, and gas tax funds. The loss of coal-related jobs has hindered this region.
One of the reasons Perry County Judge-Executive Scott Alexander gave for the petition to borrow the bonds was that the county roads would continue to deteriorate at a rapid pace. He also mentioned that equipment, such as bush hogs, were outdated and failing. The bonds would be used to purchase new equipment for the fiscal court’s road department.
A quick trip down almost any county road would make you realize that the roads are in dire shape, just as Alexander said.
But is borrowing more money the solution to the fiscal court’s woes?
Miller stated in the fiscal court meeting that the fiscal court had just finished paying off a $300,000 loan last month.
The fiscal court is currently struggling to pay its bills. Less than 50 percent of its bills are currently being paid.
How will borrowing more money make the fiscal court financially stable?
What if instead of borrowing these bonds, the fiscal court would take a certain percentage of the occupational tax and place it in the road department funds? The fiscal court could then go out and see which county roads need to be made a priority. They could then start chipping away every six months to a year on resurfacing county roads.
While this may not be the easiest solution in the short term, the long-term effect would help keep the fiscal court of debt while also fixing the county roads.
The Perry County Grant Department does an excellent job of applying for and receiving grants. They have received several different types of grants this year alone.
So, instead of using the bonds for the purchase of new equipment, could the grant department apply for grants that would help the fiscal court receive new equipment?
Alexander’s motives in this appear to be pure, and he’s not only in expressing this opinion. Magistrates Kenny Cole and Ronald Combs share the same sentiment.
Each of us wants what is best for this county. We just happen to disagree on how to solve the issues facing this region.
But, if we can come together and have an open discussion, we may find a solution on which everyone agrees. Borrowing money is never a decision that should be made lightly.