Rural Blog: DEA targets opioid abuse in Appalachia with new Louisville office to handle Ky., Tenn., W.Va.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is targeting the opioid epidemic in Appalachia by establishing a new field office in Louisville on Jan. 1. Louisville already has a district office, one of 222 across the country, but it and the rest of Kentucky were part of the Detroit division, while West Virginia was part of the Washington, D.C., division and Tennessee was part of the Atlanta division. DEA...

Daily Yonder: House Democrats question halt to study of strip-mining impact on Appalachian health

By Heather Chapman Special to KyForward When a federal study on the public-health impacts of large-scale surface mining in Central Appalachia was cancelled in August, the Interior Department said it wasn’t because of the subject matter. All projects costing more than $100,000 were being reviewed because of budget cuts Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement said...

Roundtable says poor health a major obstacle to economic development in Appalachia

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Appalachia faces many hurdles when it comes to economic development and creating a healthy workforce, including education barriers, addiction issues, stigma and overall poor health. Those were the conclusions of a 13-member panel convened to discuss the findings of two new Appalachian Regional Commission reports that found Appalachian health continues to fall...

Rural Blog: Role of African Americans in Appalachia coal industry largely unrecognized

When someone is asked to imagine a person living in Appalachia, they’ll likely imagine a white person. But the Appalachians have a significant African American population in certain places. The Washington Post’s Emma Ockerman writes a fascinating piece about what it means to be an African American living in Appalachia, feeling “like a racial minority within a cultural minority.”...

Appalachian region endures dramatic health challenges compared with nation, research shows

Health Disparities in Appalachia, a new report issued Thursday by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, documents dramatic disparities in health outcomes and other health-related factors in the Appalachian Region when compared with the nation as a whole, as well as substantial variations in health throughout...

Smoking largely responsible for shorter life spans, higher infant death rates in Appalachia

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News People who live in Appalachia are dying sooner than two decades ago, and the region has a higher infant death rate compared to the rest of the nation. A new study blames both largely on the region’s high smoking rate, as well as its other bad health habits. “What this report shows is the extreme damage that tobacco is causing our people, and how we are...

Abandoned Mine Lands Pilot Grants totaling $5 million released for economic development projects

U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) and the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) announced three grants worth almost $5 million to spur economic development and job creation in Eastern Kentucky. Two of the grants were awarded by the EEC’s Division of Abandoned Mine Lands, as part of the 2016 Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot program to revitalize the coalfields in Kentucky’s...

Rural Blog: Shale-gas boom leads to plastic-pellet plants, but Appalachian infrastructure is lacking

Appalachian states are poised to capitalize on the world’s growing appetite for plastics, not only with shale gas and oil drilling, but with plants called “crackers” that turn natural gas byproducts into usable plastic pellets for manufacturers, Tom DiChristopher of CNBC reports. Northern Appalachian states such as Pennsylvania and New York have large shale-gas deposits and are already...

Chefs gather to rally for Appalachia – Family Style Dinner to Benefit Appalachian Food Summit

A number of guest chefs will join Lockbox executive chef Jonathan Searle for a four-course dinner and a cocktail hour Thursday, August 10 benefitting the Appalachian Food Summit. Each course of the family style dinner will be designed and prepared by a different regional chef, including Searle, Chef Annie Pettry of Decca (Louisville), Chef Ouita Michel of Holly Hill Inn and Honeywood (Midway and Lexington),...

Rural Blog: CBS feature shows Appalshop as kind of business that would be hurt by cuts in arts’ budget

In response to President Trump’s proposed budget cuts CBS News’s “Sunday Morning” looked at how one rural community in Kentucky would be hurt. The same story could be reported in many other communities. Letcher County, Kentucky, which has been hurt by the loss of coal jobs, is also the home of Appalshop, a non-profit media, arts, and education center that relies largely on funding...

Rural Blog: Technology and digital design start-up finds success in heart of Kentucky coalfield

A technology and digital-design firm in southeastern Kentucky offers hope for helping Central Appalachia revitalize its economy after the loss of coal jobs, Alexis Stephens reports for PolicyLink. In Letcher County, where 33 percent of residents live below the federal poverty level and only 12 percent of adults 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree, Mountain Tech Media is providing a service...

Rural Blog: Could medical marijuana be the solution to Appalachia’s opioid addiction epidemic?

Could medical marijuana be the answer to the nation’s opioid epidemic, which is a major concern in rural areas, especially in Appalachia? Christine Vestal reports for Stateline, “Some medical practitioners and researchers believe that greater use of marijuana for pain relief could result in fewer people using the highly addictive prescription painkillers that led to the epidemic.” About...

Repealing ACA could hinder treatment for opioid addiction, epidemic in Appalachia, rural areas

From Rural Blog President Trump’s pledge to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could have dire effects on drug-treatment programs, especially in Appalachia and other rural areas plagued by the opioid epidemic, Christine Vestal reports for Stateline. An estimated 1.6 million previously uninsured addicts in the 31 states that expanded Medicaid gained coverage since 2014, including...

Ron Daley: Eastern Kentucky must learn from past to prepare for future; admit failures, celebrate success

We need to understand the reasons why eastern Kentucky has not made the same level of progress as other Appalachian coal states before we can develop and implement strategies to grow a vibrant diversified economy. Additionally, we need to study the best practices in southern Ohio, West Virginia, southwest Virginia, and northeastern Tennessee for productive planning. And, we must not be fearful to...

Regional survival at stake as Central Appalachia leaders grapple with what comes after coal

Across Central Appalachia, especially Eastern Kentucky, “elected officials, business leaders, environmentalists and community advocates are looking beyond politics to wrestle with a question essential to the region’s survival: What comes after coal?” Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports for The New York Times. Lora Smith, who oversees grants in Central Appalachia for the Mary Reynolds Babcock...

UK gets $2.8 million grant for Rural Health Research Center to study health-care access in poor, rural U.S.

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The University of Kentucky has received a $2.8 million competitive grant to establish a Rural Health Research Center that will focus on access to healthcare and substance abuse treatment in undeserved rural areas of the United States, including Appalachia. “These are very competitive grants that are only awarded every four years,” UK College of Public...

UK doctors providing dental care in Appalachia rewarded with reduction of student loan debt

By Olivia McCoy Special to KyForward By supporting a region that desperately needs dental providers, two University of Kentucky College of Dentistry students will have their student loan debt significantly reduced. Drs. Candace Flora and Adam Tackett were each awarded $100,000 through the Appalachian Dental Loan Forgiveness Program. Started in 2015 through the bipartisan efforts of then Gov. Steve...

People in rural Appalachia more likely to die early, mainly due to greater drug overdose rates

“People in rural areas of Appalachia are more likely to die early deaths than in other parts of the country,” and a big reason is that they “die from drug overdoses at greater rates than the rest of the country,” writes Kery Murakami, the Washington, D.C., reporter for Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.’s CNHI News Service. Murakami notes that in Leslie County, Kentucky,...

Dr. Nikki Stone: Leading UK’s Mobile Dental Program to serve the children of Eastern Kentucky

By Ann Blackford Special to KyForward When Dr. Daria ‘Nikki’ Stone, associate professor at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry, became the director of the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program in Hazard, she realized she was finally in the right place at the right time; where her piece of the puzzle fit in the big picture. Growing up in Blackey, Kentucky, a tiny town in Letcher...

Rural Blog: Hepatitis B cases on the rise in Kentucky while remaining stable nationwide

The number of hepatitis B cases in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia increased 114 percent from 2009-13, while hepatitis B cases remained stable nationally during the same time period, says a study released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study, which cites intravenous drug use in Appalachia for the rise in cases—rates were highest among non-Hispanic whites ages...