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Letters to the Editor
Concerned about Eric Ratliff’s replacement

Dear Editor,

After the Utilities Meeting held on Wednesday, Feb. 25 about Eric Ratliff’s “demise”, Mayor Bob Porter accepted the right to fire Ratliff, so the paper reads.
I could not hear this in the meeting as I was sitting in the back of the room. I read what the paper said.
If Mayor Porter is “top dog” in the hiring and firing of Ratliff’s position, no wonder Porter paid his water and gas bill whenever he pleased, while some customers had their water and gas shut off for not paying on time. Looks like the “top dog” has opened himself up to some lawsuits.
Mayor Porter said, however, money had been spent to hire engineers for a good reason.
I agree, so what happened to their inspector and his “as built maps”? Looks like the engineers were asleep at the wheel!
Foreman Dalmas Ward and whistle blowers should have no dog in this race.
If the Mayor fires Eric Ratliff, I can’t wait to see who the “Good Ole Boy” replacement will be - maybe one of the Councilmen or someone in the family who needs a job, but has no experience in water distribution.

Sincerely,
Frank McCoart
Staffordsville, KY

Warmongers in Congress

Dear Editor:

Warmongers in Congress learned nothing from the well-taught lessons of Vietnam. Remedial lessons were repeated in the Middle East, and they flunked them. Erase their failures to learn and ISIS would be one less problem in the world.
Consequential samplings related to their failures include: Muammar Gaddafi, Libya, shot to death; Saddam Hussein, Iraq, death by hanging; Hosni Mubarak, Egypt, forced resignation. Are their citizens or the 3.8 million refugees that have since fled their motherlands or the world better off without them? The two late dictators and former president posed no threat to America.
Now, our warmongers are ringing their bellicose alarm again. “Without American leadership and boots on the ground, ISIS will take over the world,” they say. They even compare ISIS with Hitler. What a stupid comparison! Hitler had ship, aircraft, and munitions factories, brilliant engineers, scientists, a national treasury at his command, and 20.7 million men served in his Army, Navy, and Air Force during World War II. ISIS cannot manufacture a Red Ryder BB Gun, and they have no legal source of income.
The corrected comparison of ISIS and Hitler contains a basis for an ISIS-elimination strategy that would not waste more lives, limbs, blood, or borrowed dollars, but it also contains two insurmountable obstacles for our warmongers. Such a strategy requires truth and a leader. Has anyone heard the truth or seen a leader in Congress or the White House lately?
Moreover, the future outlook for truth and a true leader is bleak. The media and the usual pundits are already promoting the continuation of the status quo in January, 2017. America needs another Clinton or Bush in the Oval Office like New Orleans needs another Hurricane Katrina, and the “The beat goes on, ... La de da de de,” sang the late Sonny and extant Cher when I and they were young.

Sincerely,
Shafter Bailey
Lexington, KY

Talk of fracking 

Dear Editor,

There has been a lot of heated rhetoric about fracking in Madison County. A community discussion on important issues is always a good thing. But it should be based on facts.
In my 30 year career in the oil and gas industry, I have “fracked” over 1,000 wells in Kentucky alone and hundreds more in West Virginia, Virginia and Ohio. Stringent regulations govern Kentucky’s oil and gas industry. Significant precautions are taken to prevent spills and protect groundwater. The oil and gas industry is subject to the EPA, the federal Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act as well as numerous state regulations from the Kentucky Division of Oil and Gas, the Kentucky Division of Water and the Kentucky Division of Air Quality.
I can point to countless studies that prove hydraulic fracturing doesn’t create the environmental calamities industry opponents claim. A study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Lab found there was no migration of methane from fractured wells into fresh water aquifers. Just last September, the New York Times - reporting on a National Academy of Sciences study - wrote “researchers found no evidence that fractured shale led to water contamination.”
Can Kentucky strengthen its regulations on the oil-and-gas industry in light new drilling technologies? Yes – and it should. That’s why the oil and gas industry has been collaborating for several months with state regulators, the Kentucky Resources Council, the Environmental Quality Commission, the Kentucky Farm Bureau and Kentucky Chamber of Commerce to propose new laws governing the industry. I have been part of this workgroup and a broad package of consensus reforms that has been introduced in this session of the Kentucky General Assembly to fill gaps in the current regulatory framework.
Kentucky’s oil and gas industry contributes $1 billion to the state’s economy. We provide 3,200 jobs and generate over $40 million in tax revenues to the state general fund and local government budgets.
More important, we put money into the pockets of everyday Kentuckians. Landowners that partner with the industry to develop their minerals get a royalty payment.  These royalty payments provide income for family budgets, helps put children through school and supports seniors in retirement. Do fracing opponents intend to deny this income opportunity to Kentuckians that don’t share their opposition to oil and gas development? If so, they should admit it and defend their position.
I’m surprised by how much attention this issue has gotten but then I see how poorly informed the opponents are of the facts. For those who want to get the facts, I recommend starting by checking out the websites of the Ground Water Protection Council (www.gwpc.org) and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (www.iogcc.publishpath.com).
I graduated from Berea College and lived in the Berea area for 16 years. Berea and its surrounding area are one of Kentucky’s treasures. The community deserves a fair presentation of the facts related to oil and gas development and a discussion beyond the mere generation of fears based upon unsupported statements.    
 
Bill Daugherty
Managing Partner
Blackridge Resource Partners
Lexington KY 40507



Letters to the Editor
Remove political signs

Dear Editor,

The election of November 2014 is way over, the results are in, and the winners have been determined. Now its time for the candidates and/or the Democrat and Republican local parties to become responsible citizens and to scour the town and county for removing all their “election” signs from both public and private areas. Neglecting to do so just adds to the seemingly endless job of cleaning up litter. 

Sincerely,
Jim Wilson
Paintsville


Letters to the Editor
Large pipe size not best for consumer

Dear Editor,
I have been reading the newspaper about waterline problems in Johnson County.
Being a former employee with Paintsville Utilities and Johnson County water system, and eight years inspecting and installing new waterlines in Johnson, Lawrence, Martin and Floyd Counties, I know something about installing new waterlines, and the pipe size being used.
Running large pipe size long distances is hard to maintain chlorination, 0.2 parts per million/gallon is the law. This is hard to maintain.
Large pipe in these counties has been a bad mistake and has been done over and over.
If I lived up a hollow a half mile, I would rather have a 1-inch line to my meter if it got the job done.
I wonder if a lawmaker would rather have a 4-inch line run to his house that might take the water 3 or 4 days to get up the hollow. By that time, the water would be stale. Hard telling how long the water took to get to the 4-inch line.
Water tanks are the worst place for water to go bad. In summer, warm water stays on top. I have looked down water tanks and seen green water many times.
Replacing waterlines in question in Johnson County is a joke if the lines in service do the job. The chlorine law in Kentucky is 0.2 parts per million per gallon. Good law but hard to maintain with large pipe size. No wonder people drink bottled water. Lawmakers and whistle blowers probably drink bottled water, too.

Frank McCoart
Staffordsville


Letters to the Editor
Equal treatment

Dear Editor,
As I read the article about the new Johnson County Senate representative, Brandon Smith, being arrested on DUI charges, it saddened me to know that people who run our government in Kentucky are breaking the law. Especially one that could have resulted in an accident or even death of an innocent person.
Senator Smith should not be treated any differently than any other person driving under the influence of alcohol. I want to thank the Kentucky state trooper for doing his job.
I think Sen. Smith needs to step down.
James Cox
Paintsville

County school board members thanked for service
Dear Editor,
The members of the Johnson County Board of Education work daily to ensure our district’s ability to educate our children and provide improved educational programs while monitoring finances and meeting more difficult and complex training requirements. This responsibility involves complicated assessments and considerate decision making while at the same time unselfishly burdening themselves with improving test scores, school facility safety concerns, and countless other issues. Board members are involved in all aspects of district operation and their knowledge and leadership help to make Johnson County Schools one of the best school districts in the state.
These are just a few reasons the Johnson County Board of Education members deserve our thanks during Kentucky’s January observation of School Board Member Recognition Month.
I, along with the students and staff of the Johnson County School System, wish to express appreciation and gratitude to Bob Hutchison, Melvin Vanhoose, James Doug Wright, Bruce Aaron Davis and William Fraley for their years of dedication and service and I urge all residents of Johnson County to join us in expressing appreciation to these outstanding public servants.
Sincerely,
Thomas Salyer
Superintendent, Johnson County Schools

Thank you

Dear Editor
On behalf of the Johnson County School System, I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone in the Johnson County community who donated to our schools throughout the holidays. You may never realize how you made such a difference for our students and their families.
The outpouring of generosity from local businesses, churches, community agencies, civic clubs and organizations, and private donations from families provided coats, shoes, clothes, toys and food to students in all of our Johnson County Schools.
Hundreds of students benefitted from your love and kindness.
Much appreciation goes out to everyone who contributed to making Christmas so much brighter for so many!

Sincerely,
Shauna L. Patton
FRYSC Liaison
Johnson County School System


Letters to the Editor
Honoring the past with Christmas present

Dear Editor,
Fifteen years ago, Clyde Bowling started “Christmas in the Highlands.” He loved children so much and always looked for ways to help them year round. Just before he passed away, he asked his son, David Bowling, to keep it going so the children of Johnson County would always have a gift under the tree. David has honored his father’s wishes. He, along with the help of his wife Nikki and daughter Quin and some dear friends, have kept the event going and it has turned out to be a success each year.
David books the talent and generates advertising for the show. Jim O’Bryan, a family friend, is the auctioneer. After the show, Nikki and Quin reach out to local schools and donate toys. All of the money that is taken in goes to buy clothes for middle and high school students.
The show this year will be at the U.S. 23 Country Music Highway Museum on Saturday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m. There will be an old-fashion cake walk, a 50/50 drawing, an auction, dancing and concessions. Bring the kids because Santa will be there, too.
The bands that will be performing are C.J. the D.J., Turning Ground, Coal Town Dixie, Melvin Goins and Windy Mountain, The Highland Bluegrass Quartet, and The Kevin Prater Band. Admission is $10 or a new, unwrapped toy. For more information, please call 606-367-1056. We do this show in memory of Clyde Bowling and George Ramey.
Sincerely,
David Bowling
Staffordsville, Ky.
The stress is felt

Funding for state public retirement system

Dear Editor,
Recently, the latest financial stress felt by two of the state’s public retirement systems, the Kentucky Employees Retirement System (KERS) and the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System (KTRS), has been highlighted in the media.  The funding level for the KERS Non-Hazardous pension plan at the end of fiscal year 2014 (FY14) dropped to 21 percent. As this news broke, KTRS was presenting a plan for a Pension Obligation Bond to better shore up its 52 percent funding level.  Both of these issues will land in the lap of the General Assembly when it meets again in January.
Legislative action in the 2013 Regular Session provided the framework of intent for additional funding of KERS.  This was ratified in the current biennium budget by the Governor and the General Assembly when full funding of the Actuarially Required Contribution (ARC) was included.  Just five months into this fiscal year, it is too early to tell whether or not this will halt the funding slide, but even the 15.5 percent return on investments from FY14 shows that great investment returns alone will not solve the funding problem.
KTRS made a strong case for the use of bonds to improve their pension fund.  Would this work for KERS as well?  We are hopeful such direct infusion into the system will be seriously studied and considered.  Finding a source of continued, steady, and dedicated funding to shore up KERS would be welcomed news to tens of thousands of current and future retirees who are depending on their guaranteed pension to put bread on the table.
In addition, continued full funding of the ARC should become a commitment of the General Assembly and the gubernatorial candidates as they present their platforms in next year’s campaigns.  This is an obligation that has been too often ignored over the past two decades.  
Kentucky Public Retirees (KPR) looks forward to working with the Kentucky Retirement Systems, our lawmakers and leaders to find a viable solution to avoid insolvency of KERS.

 
Paul R. Guffey, President
Kentucky Public Retirees (KPR)



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