Stephen George once again knocks his weekly feature out of the ballpark. He’s the only journalist in the state to give face time to the issue of mountaintop removal and the massive KFTC demonstration that took place in Frankfort last Thursday. He lends emotions and a face to serious issues before us in the Commonwealth and is one of the few who attempt to hold Reps. Jody Richards and Jim Gooch responsible for their actions.
If you aren’t reading Stephen every Wednesday you aren’t paying attention.
High on the mountaintop
By Stephen George
Advocates descend on Frankfort to persuade lawmakers to help stop mountaintop removal mining in Eastern Kentucky. Is anyone listening?
We’re standing outside the home of Todd and Barbara Bailey, a sprawling one-story perched on a slight hill just off Kentucky Route 7 in Hueysville, on a bitter-cold February afternoon. Todd is showing me a crack in the red brick; it snakes from the house’s concrete foundation up to a bay window about six feet off the ground. He says it’s from blasting on a nearby job, permit no. 836-0335, an expansive mountaintop removal mining operation that has taken a handful of peaks across the road, behind the modest homes of his neighbors, too high to really notice from ground level.
A tan, late model Toyota Tacoma 4×4 pulls into his driveway, and out come two young men, one probably in his early 20s, the other a little more worldly. They smile politely. The worldly one announces they’re from Miller Bros. Coal, that they’ve come to deliver notices to landowners within a half-mile of this and another job, no. 836-0338, just over the hill behind the Bailey residence. Before the jobs can expand, the company is required by law to notify residents that they may request pre-blasting home surveys at no charge. I ask for copies of the notices as well; it’s clear they smell my city stink, so we posture at each other for a couple seconds before the younger one goes back to the truck for the copies.