With temperatures nearing triple digits, it is hard to imagine that fall is just around the corner, but a look at the calendar tells us it will not be too many weeks until we will be hearing about the beautiful color of the mountains. Along with the fall colors, we here in Perry County will be promoting the elk population, which is the largest east of the Mississippi.
We need to be getting ready for the influx of tourists. Tourism in Kentucky is a $10 billion per year industry. That shows a 6.6 percent gain over last year, and that industry has grown almost 24 per-cent over the past three years. By keeping our front porches swept and our trash picked up, we will continue to see those numbers grow.
Of course tourism growth is a lot more involved than that, but if we all show pride in our own property, then the whole area will start to look inviting. More than 175,000 Kentuckians owe their jobs to the travel and tourism industry, which pays more than $3.3 billion in salaries. The travel and tourism industry also provides almost $990 million in local, state and federal taxes.
Travel and tourism needs to be taken very seriously. It means too much to this area to be taken for granted. State Senator Dr. Daniel Mongiardo has been “on top” of the money the industry can bring to this area, and he continues to plan for the growth tourism will bring to our part of the state.
The good the travel and tourism business brings here is not limited to those who are directly involved in that business. We all reap the benefits of that industry. Without the growth in tourism, we would not enjoy the restaurants we have here. Nor would we see the attractive motels we have here in Hazard. If it were not for tourism, we would lack the Buckhorn State Resort Park.
By presenting our area properly, the tourists will be inclined to spend more time with us. To keep the tourists here, we need more than good restaurants and motels. We have to be able to appeal to a wide variety of interests. One would not necessarily think that a college would be important for tourism growth, but that is not so here. Hazard Community and Technical College’s work with the craft and arts programs is a vital part of our long range tourism growth. The development of our waterways will mean much for many generations to come in the growth of tourism as well as entertainment for our own people.
Perry County has a good foundation on which to expand tourism. With Cornettsville being the site of the area’s first industry, we appeal to those interested in history. We are blessed with much natural beauty, fish and wildlife, and we have several people who are knowledgeable of and interested in promoting the arts.
While working on our future in tourism, we also need to think about our older citizens who have worked tirelessly for many years to bring about so many of the things taken for granted now. There are many in the age and health category that staying in their own homes is hard and trying, but they enjoy health and mobility that is far too good to think about a nursing home. There is an in between from one’s home and a nursing home, and that is called assisted living. The nearest such facility is located in Pikeville. Lexington, Richmond and London all have several such facilities, but for a long time resident of Hazard, the thought of moving away from home is not desired.
The assisted living facility in Pikeville is a part of a division of the Presbyterian Church. The two assisted living facilities in London are owned by the Laurel County Fiscal Court. As far as I know, the ones in Lexington are private. One of the facilities in Richmond is private, and the other was started from a very generous gift from the son of a former Presbyterian minister in Richmond, and after the initial gift, several of that town’s churches have gotten together to help in the front-end funding needs of that facility.
If I were looking for an assisted living site in Hazard, the LaCitadell site would be far and away my first choice. I can’t imagine a more desirable place to spend leisure hours than enjoying the beautiful views afforded from that site. If such a site could be had as the LaCitadell property is, I would think we would see a great influx of people for such a facility.
As we all add numbers, the building of an assisted living facility is something the City of Hazard, Perry Fiscal Court and/or the local churches need to consider. Our senior citizens did not forget the oncoming generations when they were active, and the younger generations should never forget the good their preceding generations have done.