The area's leading online source for news!
Louisa-Lawrence Co, KY

In God We Trust - Established 2008

Menu
 
Editor &Publisher - Dr. Mark H. Grayson, (DoL) Hon. 2005 EKU
606-638-0123 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

December 15, 2017

The revitalization of reclaimed mine land in the Appalachian region has been one of the ways in which regions hit hardest by the downturn of coal production are getting back on their feet. The Kentucky Enterprise Industrial Park is one of those efforts. AppHarvest, according to city officials, still plans to be one of the pioneers at the park.

“AppHarvest is still very much committed to coming to Pikeville. As a matter of fact, it’s an even bigger project than what it started off being” said Assistant City Manager Sean Cochran. “Initially, Jonathan Webb had a gand plan of building not only this green house, but several more throughout Eastern Kentucky — with this one being the first and being the hub for all of the others.”“AppHarvest is still very much committed to coming to Pikeville. As a matter of fact, it’s an even bigger project than what it started off being” said Assistant City Manager Sean Cochran. “Initially, Jonathan Webb had a gand plan of building not only this green house, but several more throughout Eastern Kentucky — with this one being the first and being the hub for all of the others.”

In June, AppHarvest founder and CEO Jonathan Webb hosted a roundtable discussion about his company’s intentions to build a high-tech greenhouse on the city’s industrial park. The factory for high-tech agriculture is slated to create approximately 140 jobs for Eastern Kentuckians. Webb said the main export of the greenhouse will be bell peppers and snacking tomatoes. However, at that time, Webb was still waiting to tie up some loose ends. Now, according to officials with the City of Pikeville, progress has been made. 

“AppHarvest is still very much committed to coming to Pikeville. As a matter of fact, it’s an even bigger project than what it started off being” said Assistant City Manager Sean Cochran. “Initially, Jonathan Webb had a gand plan of building not only this green house, but several more throughout Eastern Kentucky — with this one being the first and being the hub for all of the others.”

The company announced in October that it has partnered with Sunset Produce, the leading greenhouse grower in North America, and is ready to move forward with its plan to locate in Pikeville.

“The project is 32-acres, under glass,” Webb told the News-Express. “Sunset Produce is dedicated to building five, high-tech greenhouses. But, we’ve got to start construction on this first one.”

He said the first step in the big picture is to get the first project up and running.

“We’ve been down in the weeds on ironing out the construction details,” he said. “The partnership with Sunset has been critical in helping to iron out those and setting us up for success in the long-run.”

Cochran said Sunset is a Canada-based company that is interested in making “huge expansions” with various greenhouses throughout the United States. 

“While we were working with Jonathan, he brought Sunset into the deal,” said Cochran. “We had done a lot of work with Jonathan that we went through again with Sunset. And they are committed. They love the area and they love the park; they’re still coming.”

Cochran said the weather has played a role in the ability for AppHarvest to begin construction.

“Their construction would have needed to have started in October,” Cochran said. “What happens is, they put up all of the glass and then they add the heat that goes in.”

He said a nearly five-month construction process would take place prior to the company being able to heat the facility and the company could not chance the possibility of snow hindering that process. 

“They can’t take the chance of having a large snow load on the glass, without having the heat in there to melt the snow,” he said.

He also said a crop input schedule dictates when the company will be able to plant its crops, meaning they will have to wait until that time to begin growing their product.

“They’ll be starting construction in the spring,” he said. 

Cochran said this partnership with Sunset, while holding the process up a little longer, will be more beneficial to those who seek employment there.

“The pay scale now, bringing Sunset on board, is better. Jonathan’s pay scale way good for the type of labor he was needing, but Sunset’s works even better,” Cochran said. “It’s a higher per-hour pay rate and they also have a bonus structure that they pay on as well.”

Cochran said many of the jobs would be unskilled labor positions and offer a great opportunity for the regional workforce.

AppHarvest will be a neighbor to Silver Liner, the manufacturing company that recently broke ground at the industrial park. Cochran said construction for the park’s spec building, which will be the home for Silver Liner, is expected to start in the next two weeks and the city estimates that the company will begin hiring people within the next year.

 

Date: 12-13-2017

Adkisson: 2018 Legislative Session will be toughest in years

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dave Adkisson told business leaders in Pikeville Tuesday "The upcoming 2018 session of the Kentucky General Assembly will be the most challenging in decades."Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dave Adkisson told business leaders in Pikeville Tuesday "The upcoming 2018 session of the Kentucky General Assembly will be the most challenging in decades."

PIKEVILLE — The upcoming 2018 session of the Kentucky General Assembly will be the most challenging in decades, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dave Adkisson told business leaders in Pikeville Tuesday.

Adkisson, keynote speaker for the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s Membership Breakfast, said there are numerous opportunities present for the moving of the state chamber’s agenda forward, but issues such as the need to deal with pension reform and the possibility of tax reform could complicate an already difficult 2018 budget session for the legislature.

“We can make some progress in this session,” Adkisson said. “We can do things that will encourage job growth. We can do things to improve our schools. But we have to do that against a backdrop that’s fairly dismal on the financial side.”

Adkisson said the conditions were similar in the “great recession” nearly a decade ago, with tax revenue similarly down. However, he said, at that time, the stimulus funding released by the federal government lessened the blow for state government.

“This time, with the pension crisis, there’s no bailout,” he said. “We own that and we’ve got to dig out.”

Adkisson said several solutions have been offered, but that, with the current politically-charged climate in Frankfort, he is not hopeful that compromise can be reached.

The 2017 session, Adkisson said, was a successful session for state chamber, with agenda items that have been in the chamber’s plans for decades coming to fruition, such as passing right-to-work legislation, repealing the prevailing wage and requiring pension system transparency.

However, he said, there are several items on which the chamber is planning to focus in the upcoming session beyond pensions, as well as possible tax reform and the budget. 

Included in that agenda are items such as:

• Improving the worker’s compensation system.

• Investing in infrastructure, including items not normally discussed, like broadband and transportation infrastructure such as riverports and airports.

• Legal liability reform.

• A statewide smoke-free workplace law.

The legislature is set to convene on Jan. 2 to begin the 2018 regular session.

By Russ Cassady, Appalachian News-Express
For the Floyd County Chronicle and Times

Date: 12-11-2017

Op-Ed 

Rebounding slow and steady

By Jeff Vanderbeck
Appalachian News-Express

The move away from coal has been a slow and arduous task. But it’s happening. While coal is seeing slight upticks in production, it won’t be what it was, and the number of people needed in the mines has dwindled.

The announcement next week will tell folks about a battery manufacturer that plans to locate a production facility in Pikeville, I’m assuming at Marion Branch, as there is a meeting next Friday for a big job announcement.

Pikeville has been leading the region in small but steady job opportunities with the restaurants and retail outlets opening. The university opened the optometry school and the hospital is once again expanding. All this growth is the culmination of many years of planning, vision and cooperation. Even Coal Run has seen some business growth, with more on the horizon.

The cooperation between the officials of Pikeville and the county is now more necessary than ever. Their gesture in Tuesday’s meeting was a humbling one for them as they voted to approve the measure to use coal severance money to pay for the core drilling at Pikeville’s Kentucky Enterprise Industrial Park. Their approval shows their willingness to work with others who are creating jobs. 

The money was awarded and set in place but needed final approval from legislators and the county judge. Three of the four legislators showed leadership by sending their letters of approval well in advance to the state to release the coal severance money for this project. And now that the fiscal court is on board, the project can move along more harmoniously. 

The better news is this approval may eventually lower our taxes. These manufacturing jobs should generate more than $400 million in payroll that will be subject to the occupational tax. And because the industrial park is in the county school district, the school system will benefit as well, potentially lowering the school tax.

Within three years, the plant should be in full operation. In the meantime, the people in this and surrounding communities should gear up for a sustainable source of jobs. You can expect people who are out of work to have the opportunity to obtain gainful employment. You can expect that the housing market will get significantly better. You can expect some of the mom-and-pop stores to reappear to support the newly-expected workforce.

The announcement will be made next Friday and that should be formal, official and a day for celebration. But, caution needs to be exercised. While the county had little to do with this deal, they need to work with the city and start to foster better relationships.

In the last fiscal court meeting, Chuck Sexton, the president of ONE East Kentucky, addressed the court and explained the importance of working together and how many opportunities are on the table for this region. And how Pikeville is and being considered by many other companies.

The Pikeville city commissioners, mayor and city manager have worked tirelessly to get this deal. The Pikeville city commissioners make less than $4,000 a year and the mayor makes less than $5,000 a year. Coal Run’s mayor makes about $9,000 and is responsible for his own taxes. The magistrates make 10-12 times as much and need to consider following Pikeville and Coal Run’s lead.

The magistrates have taken a lot of heat over their salaries. Former Pikeville city manager took a lot of heat over his salary, but he was a producer. The deal is partly because of his hard work and fortunately, the replacement city manager, Phillip Elswick carried the ball across the goal line, making their salaries worth the expense.

With good leadership, this could be the start of many more positive announcements of jobs coming to the region.