A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Daily Yonder: Recently published anthology of Appalachian literature walks on new ground

By James Branscome Special to KyForward If you are one of the hundreds of thousands who have read J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy or maybe even one of the 14,344 who have reviewed it on Amazon, you may have been led to believe that Appalachia is a region of 25 or so million of your fellow Americans who are culturally degenerate, likely illiterate, all Trump voters, and are very representative of what’s...

Daily Yonder: Unique spokesman helps spread the word of dangers of COVID-19 among miners

When the Appalachian Citizens Law Center (ACLC) went looking for someone to help them publicize the risk of Covid-19 for coal miners with black lung disease, they wanted a person miners could trust. And, since church gatherings represent one way the virus has spread in rural areas, the law center was also looking for someone who could address Covid-19 from a perspective of faith. Retired miner Buddy...

Daily Yonder: A corporation sees no future in small Kentucky newspapers; local journalists beg to differ

By Amanda Page Special to KyForward As a one-man reporter for two newspapers in Carter County, Jeremy Wells never had time to cover school board meetings. Wells was an hourly employee for CNHI, the corporate entity that owned Grayson Journal-Enquirer and Olive Hill Times. Since the company never sprung for overtime, Wells didn’t make the evening board of education meetings. When CNHI decided to...

Daily Yonder: Due to pandemic, 2020 Census rural count has become even more challenging

By Donna Kallner Special to KyForward For most people, replying to the 2020 Census is surprisingly quick and easy. Except when it’s not. And rural areas are particularly prone to conditions that can hinder getting a complete and accurate count — things like limited high-speed internet access, addressing and mail delivery challenges, and resistance to perceived government nosiness. As if that isn’t...

Daily Yonder: How Amy McGrath defeated Charles Booker in Democratic primary — by the numbers

By Tim Marema Editor, Daily Yonder Former Marine Corps pilot Amy McGrath took the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Kentucky by winning in rural counties, small metropolitan areas, and the suburbs of the state’s two largest cities, Lexington and Louisville. McGrath defeated State Representative Charles Booker by 11,100 votes, which amounted to about 3 percentage points of the record-breaking...

Tim Marena: Things shouldn’t end this way, but they did for John Prine. Somebody should write a song

I had to close my web browser early the morning after he died. Social media, news, emails, and forums were full of news of the death of John Prine (1946-2020) from complications from COVID-19. I don’t have the wisdom or stamina to write much about John Prine. He’s a songwriter who has been showing America the truth for a half-century. His loss is incalculable. If we could trade a million self-promoting...

Tara Kaprowy: Details of a rural upbringing can make for an exceptional story in college admissions essays

I live in a place where one of the best lunches you can get is a bologna sandwich from Nelson Valley gas station. It’s not a fancy sandwich and it’s not a fancy place, but there is something about it that is good and honest and makes you feel like you are suddenly sitting snugly inside 1962. Pretty often in the summer, it can take some time to get to Nelson Valley because cars get hung up behind...

Daily Yonder: A tale of two hospitals just 24 miles apart; one of them survived, the other did not

By Taylor Sisk Special to KyForward Between 2013 and 2017, 64 rural hospitals across the country shut down, more than double the rate of the previous five years. More than half of closures since 2010 were in the South, where most states have chosen not to expand Medicaid, as allowed for under the Affordable Care Act. One such hospital was Cumberland River Hospital in the Middle Tennessee town of Celina,...

Daily Yonder: Guitars, jobs and music, startup business hopes to build on mountain traditions

People come to the Appalachian School of Luthiery from all over the world to study the art of creating stringed instruments. Doug Naselroad, school director plays a butternut travel guitar made by Paul Williams, who is part of the luthiery’s staff. (Photo by Kim Kobersmith) By Kim Kobersmith Special To KyForward All kinds of stringed instruments fill the storefront of the Appalachian School...

Daily Yonder: Eula Hall’s Mudd Creek Clinic: 40 years of helping the people of Floyd Co. with quality care

At 91, Eula Hall still goes to the Mud Creek Clinic, now the Eula Hall Health Center, each day to help care for patients in her rural Kentucky community. (Photo by Taylor Sisk/100 Days in Appalachia) By Taylor Sisk Special to KyForward Six of Eula Hall’s 10 full siblings lived into adulthood. Her family was among the more fortunate. Growing up in rural Appalachian Kentucky, Eula has witnessed poverty;...

Daily Yonder: What’s possible in Rural America? Plenty as rural Americans roll up their sleeves

Suzanne Anarde and Matt Dunne Special to KyForward To paraphrase the famous writer from America’s heartland: reports of rural America’s demise are greatly exaggerated. Paul Krugman’s recent New York Times column, “Getting Real About Rural America,” would have readers believe that the heartland’s challenges are simply unsolvable. That fatalism is at odds with what we see in our daily...

Amanda Kool: Alliance for Lawyers and Rural America fills needs, creates opportunities

Last summer, I quit my job at Harvard Law School and moved to Kentucky. Notable Kentuckian Albert “Happy” Chandler once said, “I never met a Kentuckian who wasn’t either thinking about going home or actually going home,” and I was no exception, finally fulfilling half-baked plans to return home that had formed the moment I left Kentucky for law school over a decade prior. Yet in spite of...

Commentary: While coal mining jobs are dwindling, mine fatalities are going up — here’s why

By Gary Bentley Special to KyForward At a time when we ought to see fewer deaths from coal mining, the number of fatalities has increased compared to last year. The greed of coal tycoons and politicians (who are sometimes one and the same) is the reason. In the first seven months of 2017 there have been 10 coal-mining fatalities in our country. The year is just past the halfway mark, and there have...

Daily Yonder: A handshake and one week’s pay; layoff affects more than just out of work miner

By Gary Bentley Special to KyForward When the corporate bosses show up in the changing room with a handful of envelopes, the news probably isn’t going to be good. The regional manager, mine manager, and human resources manager walked into the room while we removed our mining belts, hard hats, and boots. They began to hand out severance packages and WARN (Ed. note — Worker Adjustment and Retraining...

Daily Yonder: Stories about what it takes to work underground moving from column form to new book

By Gary Bentley Special to KyForward Gary Bentley’s first column in the Daily Yonder was also the first time his writing appeared in public. After 60 weeks of funny, profane, and heartbreaking stories about working underground, Gary is taking a break to work on a book. (Also, see this Q&A interview with Gary about his experience writing the column.) I write this letter to you, the reader, with...

Daily Yonder: Crude initiation rituals all part of the job when you’re working in the mines

By Gary Bentley Special to KyForward The whole point of high-visibility paint is that it makes things easier to see. Especially when it’s sprayed on something that’s already hard to miss, like a naked man. This installment of “In the Black” originally ran on May 30, 2016. “It’s your last day on our crew. You better be ready ’cause we’re going to cut your pants off, paint your d-ck pink,...

Daily Yonder: New miners get on-the-job training from the best sources of learning — fear and pain

By Gary Bentley Special to KyForward When giving new miners on-the-job-training, an instructor’s job is to stay out of the way and let the head teachers — fear and pain — run the class. I climbed onto the small, two-person electric cart that we used to travel through the out-by areas of the mine and to perform my daily inspections. I motioned for Lonnie Jr. and Kenny to climb aboard....

Daily Yonder: When old mine #8 started showing its age, the guys in the red helmets came to the rescue

By Gary Bentley Special to KyForward Old mine #8 is starting to look its age, and nobody seems to care. Gary remembers from early in his career how to treat his workplace — and the new workers wearing the red helmets. I got to work before 4 a.m. to help “pre-shift” the mine, inspecting things before the day-shift crew arrived. Ralph had been sick, and Dean had his hands full pulling power,...

Daily Yonder: Miner’s youthful ‘harmless shortcut’ looks a lot different following self evaluation

By Gary Bentley Special to KyForward As a newly minted foreman, Gary sometimes finds himself evaluating his own work from a few years before. He doesn’t always like what he finds. In my new work as a foreman, I had shoveled belt, repaired structure, and wired new lines for sump pumps throughout the mine. I had proven that I could handle the responsibility of prioritizing the most important work...

Daily Yonder: Many rural programs facing deep cuts under current federal budget proposal

USDA’s Rural Development, which helps provide water, power, broadband, housing, and small business loans in rural America, gets identified for deep cuts in the president’s budget proposal. The proposal, which is just the first salvo in the budget battle, also recommends eliminating agencies like the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority. President Trump’s budget...