Robert Gipe, professor and director of the Appalachian Program at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKCTC) presented an informational report on a “Young in the Mountains” project he is working on to members of the Harlan Fiscal Court at a recent meeting.
“We have applied for a federal grant to support tourism activity in the county, which includes arts programs, adventure and outdoor tourism,” said Gipe. “If we get the grant, we will do a conference in the fall 2015 and the theme will be “It’s Good to be Young in the Mountains.”
Also as part of the grant, if full funding is granted, Gipe said it will enable “some of our young people to work, and get paid, in the schools with other students.” He said for him “this is one of the critical drivers of the whole grant.” Gipe went on to say one part of the project is to “train up a generation of new leadership and pay them.”
“Another part of the grant is we’re exploring creating new four-year partnerships with colleges outside the community,” said Gipe. “One of the ways we’re looking at community development is how can we bring in more higher education, so we can hold our young people in our community a few years longer, and maybe, other economic opportunities would develop around that increasing our educational opportunities.”
The grant requires a community partner and Gipe said Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop and Magistrate Jonathan Pope had already agreed to write letters of support for this grant. He said they asked him to come to fiscal court to get the court’s full support and keep everyone “in the loop.”
“We didn’t commit the court to anything financially or otherwise,” said Gipe. “The partnership we described with fiscal court is we know fiscal court is interested in economic development and interested in support of tourism at some level. This will be a countywide project.”
Gipe continued by saying SKCTC has been a part of several conferences, which has brought hundreds of people to the county.
“I’ve come to understand that is a good part of our broad development strategy,” said Gipe. “If you can hold conferences that bring 100 to 200 people at a time in here and coordinate tourism — we need to be more coordinated, I think, for the county’s recreational and cultural heritage. The reason I’m here is we’re just trying to be more connected to everything that is going on and fiscal court is a great place to do that.”
A motion was made and approved to support this project with a letter of support from all fiscal court members.
In other court action:
*Approved paying bills, add-ons and budget transfers;
*Harlan County Treasurer Ryan Creech reported “financially the county is doing pretty well.” He said the budget is “looking pretty good.” He said the county’s budget is approximately $18.6 million and through December the county has already spent approximately $8 million. He said the county has slowed down on “generating bills” so the county’s costs “are going down.”
*Court went into executive session per KRS 61.810 (l) (c) and returned with no action taken.
Nola Sizemore may be reached at 606-573-4510, ext. 115 or on Twitter @nola_hde