Appalachian Renaissance Initiative (ARI) Student Senate joins twenty-five regional elected localities in passing a resolution of support for the POWER+ Plan. This White House budget proposal makes available $1 billion for land reclamation, $55 million for job training, and strengthens healthcare and pension for 100,000 coal miners. Totaling $10 billion for coal-impacted communities across the country, this plan could ignite the economy across several vital sectors. The vote took place in the Whitesburg City Hall today and was unanimous.
The ARI Student Senate is part of the Race to the Top Grant received by Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC) and is comprised of senior and junior students from seventeen school districts in the region. Student Senate members work toward a more participatory role for students, as full partners in their education, through avenues of competitive community problem solving, economic development, and Kentucky Youth Assembly.
Junior Senator from Letcher County Central High School, Kiley Short shared during the hearing, “This POWER+ Plan can remove the need for people to leave. It stimulates economic growth and business opportunities, which are imperative to the fate of my home, my culture, my people, and my future.”
Mayor of Whitesburg James Craft and Letcher County Judge Executive Jim Ward both addressed the Senate in support of the resolution, noting that Whitesburg and Letcher County were one of the first municipalities in the country to pass similar resolutions in support of the POWER+ Plan. Some Senators joined the vote virtually and the entire event was live streamed through www.theholler.org.
Local press including WYMT-TV and WMMT-FM were present for a press conference directly after the hearing. Stacie Fugate, a junior Senator from Hazard Independent shared with media “My brother has recently been laid off from work. This Plan hits home for not only me, but the majority of people in our region.”