SOAR conference reveals lots of talking points, but possibly years of work ahead

12/11/2013 11:18 AM

Nearly 2,000 people registered to have a say in what the future of Eastern Kentucky will be, but after all the talk the region, and state and local leaders, will have to find the will to move forward.

As U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, said in Pikeville at the SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region) summit on Monday it’s all about planning your work and working your plan.

Both Rogers and Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, who co-chair SOAR together, agree the work won’t be easy, and it could take some time. Former Gov. Paul Patton agreed the worst days may still be ahead for the region thanks to increased federal regulations.

Eastern Kentucky has suffered from decades of poverty and is facing years of layoffs and down sizing to their signature industry of coal mining.

Patton said more coal fired power plants could very well close, but it will take the people of the region to find and enact solutions — something Beshear said he’s willing to put the weight of the Commonwealth behind.

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