Everyone in the state agrees that it is getting more difficult for rural counties to find an economic niche. As America moves away from a manufacturing economy and more to a service economy it is the rural areas that take the toughest hit, Knott Co. is fortunate that you still have a viable coal industry, but folks that will NOT last, I promise you. Coal comes and brings great wealth and then goes away. Being from western Kentucky I am surrounded by coal communities that have gone bust. The carnage left behind is not pretty, in most cases it can best be described in one word, poverty. I grew up poor, I know poverty is a bad thing, it hurts good people and dampens the American spirit. I am proud to say I have managed to escape its grasp but it has been no easy journey and one I care not to relive.
In this context it is refreshing to see Knott Co. Judge Thompson attempting to think out of the box and position the county in a more favorable economic position for the future. We have all heard lame promises of politicians promising to bring jobs by recruiting some major manufacturing company, etc. etc.. We are also smart enough to know they typically don’t deliver. Knott Co. is a great county with the blessing of God’s beauty. However, reality is it’s probably not going to be the next home for a major GM or DOW manufacturing facility. Given this hard reality, what can Knott do to enhance commerce and bring money and yes jobs to the county? Judge Thompson has taken a leadership role in starting the first steps to transforming Knott Co. into a recreation Mecca. While the state of Kentucky in general is starting moving more in the tourism direction, Knott is moving faster than the state and has the potential to take a leading role in Eastern Kentucky.
The concept of bringing together Elk Viewing, ATVing, Horse Back Riding, Hiking, etc. is prefect for a county with a design plan that could have only been orchestrated by the hand of God. I have had the pleasure of visiting your county and seeing for myself much of the natural beauty. Being an avid outdoor enthusiast I can tell you that Knott Co. has much to offer those that enjoy the great outdoors and their path leaves a trail of dollars (there is your economic development for when coal is gone). I urge the citizens of Knott Co. to support the leadership role Judge Thompson is taking in the state with adventure tourism. I also want to thank the many nice citizens I have had the privilege of meeting in my travels to Knott. Co. in volunteering some time with trail mapping. You are indeed a great group of people that deserve good things. The road is being paved to a better, brighter future for Knott Co. I would urge everyone to join in on the journey and enjoy the ride; very good things await you at the destination.
Kentucky Recreational Trails Authority
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MARCH 29, 2006
APRIL 19, 2006
JUNE 28, 2006
PUBLIC HEARINGS & COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
A public meeting was held on March 30, 2006 at the Knott County Public Library. Nearly 50 ATV enthusiasts, horseback riders and those interested in wildlife viewing were in attendance and the community was well represented.
Overall response to the project was very enthusiastic. Local newspapers and radio stations are keeping the public informed and engaged.
On March 31, 2006 active participants in each of the proposed activities attended a workshop on mapping existing and potential trails.
Bill Owens (ERA) and Kevin Howard (Summit Engineering) discuss the trails with a local citizen.
Rick Russell (BWSC Engineering) works with those in the community to map out existing trail locations.
STATE AND FEDERAL AGENCIES EXPRESS INTEREST IN THE PROJECT
Kentucky Secretary of Commerce George Ward talked at length with Judge Thompson on the initiative and three officials from the Governor's Office have visited the site. Secretary Nighbert and the Governor were both sent letters on the initiative and encouraged to visit.
The Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resource (KDFWR) and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation are also important stakeholders. Their input will be invaluable in determining how best to take advantage of opportunities presented by Knott County's elk population. Preliminary meetings were held and both expressed a strong interest.
Proposed site of wildlife viewing stand
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