Thursday, December 03, 2015

Eastern Kentucky students endorse POWER+ economic development plan

This from WYMT:
Wednesday, a group of high school students from across our region formally endorsed President Obama's POWER+ Plan.

Members of the Appalachian Renaissance Initiative Student Senate met in Whitesburg to pass a resolution in support of the plan, which would provide about $10 billion for projects in coal communities nationwide.
"We are worried about our future just as much as adults are worried about theirs. We are the future. We are the next generation. We need to make sure that we can support our families in the post-coal economy that is inevitably coming," said Ashley Benton, a senior at Letcher County Central High School.

Students with the Appalachian Renaissance Initiative Student Senate voiced their support for the POWER+ Plan, which they say is needed to help the region recover from the downturn in coal.
"My brother has been recently laid off before the holidays, and it really hits home, this resolution does with me and my family, as I feel that it does with many people," said Stacie Fugate, a junior at Hazard Independent High School.

The plan would make available $1 billion for mine reclamation and $55 million for jobs programs.
"That money's been laying there for years, and being able to access that money for the first time to help diversify our economies is going to be very very important," said Letcher County Judge Executive Jim Ward.

Local leaders say they were encouraged to see so many young people engaged in their community's future.

"As the Bible says, the children will lead the parents, and you know that those families that they come from, they will be in support of the POWER+ program," said Whitesburg Mayor James Wiley Craft.

Students say it's a mistake to say Eastern Kentucky lacks resources, only opportunity, and say they hope legislators in Washington will support the president's plan.

The student senate joins more than 20 elected bodies across the region that have passed similar resolutions endorsing the POWER+ Plan.

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