HAZARD — Lt. Governor Jenean Hampton visited the Challenger Learning Center in Hazard Thursday. While at the center, she took the opportunity to join local students on a simulated space flight. Students from Leatherwood Elementary were present at the Challenger Center that day. Lt. Governor Hampton also met with an STLP group from Willard Elementary and Viper Elementary’s robotics team.
Hampton’s visit comes at a time when the Challenger Center is placing hard work into encouraging leaders in government and the aerospace industry to assist in establishing an exhibit in Hazard that will showcase, for local youth, the fascinating products and career opportunities that exist for aerospace in Kentucky.
Challenger Learning Center Director Tom Cravens told the Hazard Herald in March, “A lot of people don’t realize that Kentucky is one of the top aerospace product producers in the country. We want to organize an exhibit of products the companies in Kentucky produce, along with information about the jobs available there, and display it here at the Challenger Center.”
Lt. Governor Hampton is not the first Frankfort official to grant the Challenger Center some attention with this effort. The Executive Director of the Kentucky Aerospace Industry Consortium, D. Stewart Ditto II, traveled to Hazard last month, where Tom Cravens introduced him at the Chamber of Commerce meeting, and a discussion occurred about the economic development possibilities Kentucky’s thriving aerospace industry can create within Southeastern Kentucky.
Lt. Governor Hampton met with students at Perry County Central High School as part of her visit. Hampton also had the opportunity to meet community leaders Thursday afternoon at a luncheon that was sponsored by the Challenger Learning Center, the Hazard Perry County Chamber of Commerce and the Hazard Perry County Economic Development Alliance. Hampton said the Challenger Center is an inspirational facility and she spoke of young people staying focused to overcome adversity and conquer their dreams.
The Challenger Center did not have much time to relax after Hampton’s visit because on Saturday an experiment was planned with the center to help Hazard smile at the International Space Station. A high school physics teacher from Lafayette, Indiana traveled to Hazard to set up a series of mirrors, with the goal of reflecting sunlight back to the International Space Station for a picture. The International Space Station was scheduled to orbit the Earth over Hazard at about 3:20 p.m. Saturday. The mirrors were positioned to take the shape of a smiley face. The teacher, Bobby Quimpo, has tried the experiment without success at other locations before. In order for the picture to be captured, all conditions, including weather, must be perfect. Quimpo hopes Hazard is the place where he will finally achieve his goal. Part of the HCTC campus and the golf course in Hazard were used to set up the mirrors. In a few days, everyone should know if indeed Hazard shared its smile with our friends floating 250 miles above.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.