- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

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Feb. 3

Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader on Obama’s plan to restart Eastern Kentucky:

Many in Kentucky - including this editorial board - have long called on Congress to release its grip on $2.4 billion paid by the coal industry to repair environmental damage from mining.

Finally, someone in Washington has responded.

President Barack Obama is proposing to accelerate disbursements from the Abandoned Mine Lands fund and invest the money in economically distressed coal communities that have high unemployment, especially among miners.

Under Obama’s plan, as much as $1 billion - $200 million a year - could flow into Appalachian coal country over the next five years.

While it may be overdue, this investment could not come at a better time for Shaping Our Appalachian Region, the bipartisan initiative launched by U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers and Gov. Steve Beshear to give Eastern Kentucky a fresh start.

Projects to restore land and water would provide immediate jobs. SOAR is laying the groundwork for a future economy but can’t provide new jobs now. What Obama is proposing would.

And the jobs - from heavy-machine operators to land agents - would require skills that many in the coal industry already possess.

Longer term, restored and reforested land could provide the foundation for an expanded wood-products industry. Agriculture, biofuels and recreation are also options.

Restoring the land and sources of clean water would make the region more attractive to prospective employers, residents and visitors and help alleviate worries about mining’s effects on human health.

Obama also is asking Congress to make good on earlier promises to retired miners by shoring up pension and health care funds for those whose employers went out of business.

Coal mined out of Kentucky’s mountains powered the industrial expansion and centers of commerce that made the United States’ the world’s largest economy. Now that the coal industry is leaving, it’s simple justice to help the region get on its feet.

But some in Congress will insist the country can’t afford this and other spending proposed by Obama.

That claim cannot be made about the $1 billion from the Abandoned Mine Lands fund.

The money is there; no new taxes or fees would be required. It was paid for the purpose of repairing damage to land and water from mining. And it is owed to states such as Kentucky which has inventoried $445 million in need and probably has more than that.

The Republicans who represent Kentucky in Congress should get busy educating their colleagues about why this money should be used - without further delay - as Obama is proposing and Congress intended.

Online:

https://www.kentucky.com

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Feb. 4

Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky, on community engagement helping police:

Before the riots and protests in Ferguson, Mo., before the protests in New York over claims of police brutality, police here were working to make inroads to know this community’s people, places and things.

That community engagement is paying off.

Residents speak highly of the Bowling Green Police Department, and police here recognize that without that public buy in, their jobs would be much more difficult. Unlike many other cities where officers’ motives are often questioned by the people they serve, Bowling Green police seem to be getting back the respect that they give.

The very nature of police work often means that police are seeing people at a bad time, either because they are a victim of a crime, a perpetrator, a witness, involved in a car wreck or being pulled over. Being mindful of that, BGPD since 1994 has made a concerted effort to engage with the public in positive ways ranging from volunteerism to a citizens police academy open to adults who want to learn about the department and how it operates. Other police agencies in the area should take notes from BGPD.

Police here have lived in public housing and helped run off gang activity there in the late 1990s. Police command staff are required to participate in some sort of community outreach.

Those top commanders are involved in activities such as coaching children’s sports, mentoring, organizing winter coat drives and driving church buses, just to name a few.

For many years, the department has assigned an officer to work in the Bowling Green Housing Authority as the Residents Against Drugs officer. It is a three-year assignment, and the housing authority contributes $30,000 annually to help pay the officer’s salary. That officer concentrates solely on the needs within the authority’s four neighborhoods - Summit View/Gordon Avenue, Phenix Place, Angora Court and Bryant Place. Officer Mary Fields is the current RAD officer, an assignment she started in December. Just before Fields, there was Officer Jan Tuttle.

Inez White, a resident who lives on Sheppard Court, said she feels protected by the city’s officers and thinks highly of them.

“Mr. Tuttle, he’s a good man. He’s good at his job. I think he’s very wonderful,” White said. “He keeps everything pinned down.”

Benji Barnett, another Sheppard Court resident shared similar sentiment about Tuttle and other officers.

“I’ve never seen him be mean to anybody,” Barnett said about Tuttle. “He’s nice and courteous like officers should be.”

Police Chief Doug Hawkins said BGPD is very intentional about the way it does business. It’s clear to the residents that their intentions are good.

Online:

https://www.bgdailynews.com

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Feb. 1

The News-Enterprise, Elizabethtown, Kentucky, on “American Sniper” being embraced:

Hollywood either wasn’t prepared for, or is unwilling to accept the unanticipated blockbuster success the film “American Sniper” is amassing since its release just a few short weeks ago.

Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring actor Bradley Cooper, the film is based on the best-selling autobiography of the same title. It depicts in dramatic imagery the experiences and life-impact of combat for the late U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle and his family.

Kyle served four tours of duty as a Navy SEAL during the war in Iraq and is identified as the most lethal military sniper in U.S. history. Aside from the individual details, the generality of his story is one that can be told of myriad combat veterans and their loved ones.

Kyle and his friend, Chad Littleton, were killed in February 2013 when the pair took a former U.S. Marine shooting at a Texas gun range in an effort to help admitted killer Eddie Ray Routh deal with his diagnosed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Routh’s trial for the killings is scheduled to begin sometime this month.

The big screen portrayal of Kyle’s life is on track to set box-office records as the top grossing war film of all time. That it posthumously memorializes Kyle as a real American warrior and hero to many is something the Hollywood left cannot stand.

Because the film doesn’t demonize war nor mock the patriotic ideals most Americans hold dear, many on the extreme left have attempted to demonize Kyle as a racist, a psychopath and a serial killer.

Hollywood quickly rallied around the comedy “The Interview” after its parody assassination of dictator Kim Jong Un resulted in the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures by a group linked to North Korea.

As a result of the terror threats made on its employees, Sony pulled the plug on the film’s release. But many inside and outside Hollywood urged America to stand up, support and view the film as a patriotic duty to protect free speech and our way of life when it eventually was distributed.

How hypocritical of actor Seth Rogen, one of the stars of “The Interview,” and others spew criticism at Kyle now.

Awarded the Silver Star, Kyle served honorably, protecting the lives of countless other soldiers as a skilled and gifted rooftop rifleman. Ironically and seemingly lost on every leftist Hollywood elite, Kyle also served to protect their right to exhibit their anti-American ideology through public statements that are both offensive and disrespectful of his service.

His memory is deserving of respect and appreciation for his service and sacrifice during his tours of combat duty. He certainly is undeserving of being positioned as a villain as some have attempted.

Online:

https://www.thenewsenterprise.com

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