• By Jeff Vanderbeck Publisher

It’s that time of year again. We will see another class of bright eyed young people who are anxious to get the heck out of school and move on to the next part of their lives. 

It happens every year, kids grow up and want desperately to graduate. It isn’t until a few days later they realize the greener grass is over the septic tank. What most graduates don’t realize is that they just finished the best year of their lives as they were BMOC with very few worries. 

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The primary is over. 

Did you lose? Now, as much as ever, your voice is needed. Stay active, stay engaged with the community, and help ensure that the candidates running in the general election know your position on the issues that got you to run in the first place. Your loss in this primary is in no way an indictment of your ideas and your platform. Keep working at what you do, and rally your supporters behind the candidate that most closely represents the changes you hope to see in Johnson County. 

As rich as Kentucky is in farmland, no one should ever go hungry. Sadly, that couldn’t be farther from reality — especially for some of our most vulnerable citizens.

A recent report, “The State of Senior Hunger in America in 2016” published by Feeding America and The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger, offered analysis of food insecurity among seniors across the country.

The primary election is nearly upon us here, and on Tuesday, Johnson County residents will go to the polls to choose both national and local officials to represent them.

It is every able American’s duty to vote, and we hope others agree and find their way to the polling places.

A double-edged sword for Frankfort, the amount of money spent on lobbying grows to record levels every year.

Through its legislative newsletter, the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission announced Monday that legislative lobbying grew to a record $8.4 million through the end of March, a 17 percent increase compared to last year’s spending at the same point. Many of the biggest spenders shelled out cash related to tobacco tax increases or health-related issues.

In recognition of National Nurses Week and National Hospital Week, May 6-12, and on behalf of Paul B. Hall Regional Medical Center, I want to share my appreciation for our nurses who make it possible for us to be a health care resource for our community. We thank them for their continued dedication to providing high-quality care and improving the overall health of the Big Sandy Region.

“If you build it, they will come” is not very conventional wisdom. For Ray Kinsella in “Field ofDreams,” it sounded like lunacy at first.

But that wisdom is true, and for Eastern Kentucky, the pieces are coming together. Slowly.

Already, between the Haas eKentucky Advanced Manufacturing Institute and the American Metal Works facility downtown, humble Johnson County is home to some of the nation’s most advanced computer numerical control training and equipment. 

Uncertainty is never a good thing. And that’s especially true when it comes to essential services provided by government bodies such as schools.

Reliability is not just expected, but necessary, to ensure the proper operation of these kinds of agencies.

However, what we’ve seen in the days and weeks since legislative actions led to teacher walkouts and protests is a level of distrust and unease which is neither healthy nor conducive to the operations of our schools.

  • By Mitch McConnell U.S. Senate Majority Leader

For far too long, the federal government has prevented most farmers from growing hemp. Although it was a foundational part of Kentucky’s heritage and today you can buy products made with hemp at stores across the country, most farmers have been barred from planting it in their fields. I have heard from many Kentucky farmers who agree it’s time to remove the federal hurdles in place and give our state the opportunity to seize its full potential and once again become the national leader for hemp production.

Thanks to a dedicated team of superheroes, one particular form of plight and suffering is being combatted across Paintsville and Johnson County.

The problem is unspayed, unneutered strays and pets being kept outdoors and others released as strays. Left unchecked, the problem would be much worse than it is. 

Most people don’t vote. 

In 2015, with 17,787 registered voters in Johnson County and Kentucky’s governorship up for grabs, 4,726 turned out in November and a scant 2,360 showed up in May. Things were a little better in 2016, with presidential candidates on the ballot, with 9,701 of the 17,877 registered voters showing up for the general election, though only 3,038 voted in the primary.

The Kentucky General Assembly began with a focus on full funding for public pensions that teachers and state workers rely upon for retirement, and we ended with a final two-year budget that commits historic funding levels to those pension systems, along with all-time high funding for education. 

In order to fund pensions and education in the record-levels we did, we passed a revenue measure based on comprehensive tax reform to deliberately move in a direction to lower, and one day possibly eliminate, income tax rates while broadening the sales tax base by adding consumption-driven services. The changes made to the tax code, in order to fund the budget, signify the first in decades and will be responsible for more than $450 million over the next two years. 

Last week’s town hall meeting may have been a breakthrough for the City of Paintsville.

It was refreshing to see the idea of an open, public meeting with nearly every city agency present to update the public on their purposes and goals. It was refreshing to see the meeting go from a concept discussed a month ago to fruition so quickly. It was refreshing to see dozens of people in the audience, and the interest sufficient for there to be another such meeting later this year. 

There are numerous questions which remain, and may forever remain, surrounding the death of Pikeville Police Officer Scotty Hamilton in a shooting incident at Hurricane Road Tuesday night. What happened? Why? Why did it happen to him?

“Actions have consequences.”

Many people have heard this saying or are inherently aware of its truth. However, in today’s society, it seems almost a foreign concept. 

  • By JK Coleman Appalachian Newspapers

Billy Graham was the only TV preacher I ever trusted. Nicknamed “God’s Machine Gun,” he once told president Obama that the president’s pursuit of restrictions on guns would do nothing to change gun violence. I’d like to think that had he not passed last week, he’d agree that pursuit of senseless restrictions on coal mining is just as misguided.

Good, stable, high-paying jobs.

The promise of attracting them to the region is at the crux of every promise for politicians from the federal level all the way down. Jobs are at the heart of the debate about Kentucky Power’s rate increases, as they have invested a great deal of money in economic development in the hopes of jump-starting local industry and creating a broader customer base. Jobs are the other half of the opioid crisis Catch-22: If we had a surplus of great-paying jobs, there would be fewer people turning to drugs, but it is difficult to attract jobs to a region with the stigma of addiction hanging over it.

School violence, campus shootings and threats are becoming the norm, and we must act to turn that back

This week, U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers’ office announced the Social Security Administration is planning a second round of redeterminations for former clients of Eric C. Conn. While the first round initially targeted approximately 1,500 individuals, with more than half of them losing their benefits,…

  • By Andy McDonald

Kentucky’s young solar energy industry is being threatened by the state’s electric utilities, who are trying to stifle competition and limit their customer’s freedom to use solar energy in their homes and businesses. House Bill 227 would end net metering, a simple and effective policy that allows customers with solar electric systems to connect to the power grid and be credited for excess energy fed back to the grid when they produce more than they need. Net metering has supported the expansion of the solar industry across the USA. HB 227’s passage would cause job losses and the closure of small solar businesses across the state.