A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky-inspired independent film ‘The Mountain Minor’ to begin airing on KET this week

During the Great Depression, many Appalachian natives migrated to other parts of the country, desperate to find work. In the process, they brought with them the old-time mountain music that had been their primary source of entertainment, before phonographs and radio were widely available, especially in remote areas. The new independent film, “The Mountain Minor,” tells the story of one such family...

Nunn Center oral history collection explores legacy of creativity hub Appalshop on golden anniversary

By Whitney Hale University of Kentucky As nonprofit Appalshop celebrates its golden anniversary serving as one of Appalachia’s most celebrated hubs of creativity, the University of Kentucky Libraries’ Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History in partnership with UK alumnus and historian Jeff Keith have launched a collection of more than 50 interviews on the beloved organization online. Known globally...

Navigating Aging: A startling inequality gap emerges after age 65, and those who reach it are living longer

By Judith Graham Kaiser Health News In an era when “deaths of despair” — from substance abuse and suicide — are on the rise among middle-aged Americans, those who reach age 65 are living longer than ever. But there’s a catch: Seniors in urban areas and on the coasts are surviving longer than their counterparts in rural areas and the nation’s interior, according to an analysis from Samuel...

Rural Blog: Rep. Hal Rogers joins Democrat in filing bipartisan bill recreating abolished rural council

Two House members from Appalachian districts carried by Donald Trump have filed a bipartisan bill to restore the White House Rural Council, which the president disbanded soon after taking office. Rep. Hal Rogers Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright of eastern Pennsylvania’s 8th District and Republican Rep. Hal Rogers of eastern Kentucky’s 5th District said in a joint press release that their...

The Daily Yonder: Here are the top 10 stories, a diverse mix, about issues important to rural people and communities

It was a busy year at the Daily Yonder which published more than 250 articles over the past 12 months, about all manner of issues important to rural people and communities. To commemorate the year that was, here’s a look back at the 10 most popular stories in 2019. It’s a diverse mix, covering numerous topics you might expect, such as economic development, healthcare, broadband, agriculture...

UK gets $11 million grant to decrease cervical cancer in Eastern Ky; focus on smoking, HPV, screenings

The University of Kentucky has been awarded a five-year, $11 million grant to work toward reducing the rates of cervical cancer in Eastern Kentucky, a region that has some of the highest rates of incidence and deaths from it in the nation. The research will address three of the risk factors that contribute to these high rates — smoking, the human papillomavirus (HPV) and low rates of cervical-cancer...

Database shows Kentucky ranked second for most legal pain pills per person between 2006 and 2012

Between 2006 and 2012, drug companies distributed 76 billion doses of prescription pain medicine, “enough pills to supply every adult and child in the country with 36 each year,” Scott Higham, Sari Horwitz and Steven Rich reported in The Washington Post. And rural counties, especially in Appalachia, received some of the highest shares of pain pills per person. That’s according to...

Rural Blog: Appalachian Regional Commission report provides update on trends in Appalachia

The Appalachian Regional Commission has released an extensive report detailing trends in Appalachia from 2013 to 2017, including population, education, employment, income, poverty, and broadband access. Most data comes from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Among the ARC report’s key points: • Much of Appalachia has lost population since 2010, but some southern parts...

Carey, House, McCartt-Jackson named winners of Weatherford Appalachian book awards

The Weatherford Awards honor books that “best illuminate the challenges, personalities, and unique qualities of the Appalachian South.” Granted by Berea College and the Appalachian Studies Association, the awards commemorate the life and achievements of W.D. Weatherford, Sr., a pioneer and leading figure in Appalachian development, youth work, and race relations, and of his son, Willis D. Weatherford,...

Kentucky by Heart: Sharing nonfiction titles celebrating Appalachian Eastern Kentucky

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Although I was raised in the northern part of Kentucky and have spent adulthood living in the central part of the state, I’ve developed a strong interest and appreciation of the Appalachian region of eastern Kentucky. Dad took our family on many trips through the mountainous area and I was amazed at the natural beauty of the landscape (though in the mid-sixties,...

Rural Blog: Appalachia hit twice by coal declines; fewer jobs, ‘crippling’ bills for more expensive power

“As coal mining has collapsed across Appalachia, residents in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia have been socked with a double whammy—crippling electric bills to go along with a declining economy,” James Bruggers reports for Inside Climate News. (KyForward file photo) American Electric Power subsidiaries Wheeling Power and Appalachian Power requested permission from the West Virginia...

UK researchers track genetic trail of ALS; one form found most common around Cumberland Gap

Two University of Kentucky researchers are on the genetic trail of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Their detective story has not reached its end, but it is told in fascinating fashion by Eric Boodman of Stat, the medicine-and-science publication of The Boston Globe. The story is based around the Cumberland Gap, where Kentucky meets Tennessee and Virginia....

Rural Blog: Nine Kentucky counties among 42 ‘bright spots’ identified by Appalachian health researchers

Appalachia’s major problems include poor health, but in the 420-county region there are counties that have better health than you might expect, given their socioeconomic status. The Appalachian Regional Commission issued a study Tuesday that points out 42 “bright spots,” 10 of them with case studies, that may suggest strategies for others in the region. This map spotlights the 10...

Rural Blog: New data indicates too little money set aside to clean up, reclaim abandoned mines

According to national data compiled and published for the first time yesterday, the coal industry may not have enough money set aside to clean up and reclaim abandoned mines, Mark Olalde reports for Climate Home News. “Mining companies and state governments hold just $9.2 billion nationwide to ensure mining land is reclaimed if operators go bust,” Olalde reports. “Experts told CHN...

New mapping tool shows county-level data on Appalachian opioid overdoses, socioeconomic data

A new data visualization tool offers in-depth, county-by-county information about the impact of the opioid epidemic in Appalachia and how it relates to factors such as unemployment, poverty, education and disability. A screen cap from the map showing opioid overdose rates withthe highest rates in dark blue (Click the image to enlarge) The Appalachian Overdose Mapping Tool, developed by research organization...

Rural Blog: Appalachia at high risk of HIV, hep C, but many factors hamper testing, monitoring, treatment

Bloodborne diseases like HIV and hepatitis C are an increasing threat to public health in Appalachia, but the stigma associated with such diseases may be hindering monitoring, testing and treatment, ultimately increasing the risk of outbreaks. A big part of the risk comes from sharing needles while shooting opioid drugs such as heroin. In 2016 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that...

Rural Blog: Study shows how coal’s fall has hurt Appalachian suppliers, may threaten rail network

A 45 percent drop in Appalachia’s coal production from 2005 to 2015 has put other industries in the region at risk, says a study commissioned by the Appalachian Regional Commission. Researchers from West Virginia University and the University of Tennessee and identified the “coal industry ecosystem” in the region, mainly the industry’s supply chain of goods and services. “As...

Keys to fighting opioids in Appalachia: reducing stigma, furthering education and publishing success

The stigma of opioid addiction in Appalachia “not only keeps some from seeking help, but follows those who did — putting them at risk for relapse,” the Knoxville News Sentinel’s Kristi L. Nelson reports, on a six-month study that interviewed residents and held discussions with them. “We interviewed people who had been in recovery for 20 years, and they said they were still viewed...

Kentucky by Heart: Deaths leave a void and legacy: Mountain Santa, Bob Wagoner each made mark

I was saddened by the recent passing of Mike Howard, aka “Mountain Santa.” He lived at Wallins Creek, in Harlan County, and since the mid-seventies, the wiry-built, talkative man became an icon to thousands in his community by playing Santa Claus, collecting and delivering Christmas gifts to the poor, largely transporting the gifts using pickup trucks. He did that with the support of a legion of...

Mary Meehan: Real lives are at stake in rural areas and real journalism can help affect change

Hey there Blue State folks! Those of us out here in the rest of the country are glad that over the last year you’ve shown an interest in making our acquaintance. Recently, several prominent media organizations took it a step further, announcing support for local journalists. The Nieman Foundation recently announced the Abrams Nieman Fellowship in Local Investigative Journalism. These fellows will...