Hello everyone! It’s Saturday and I’d like to invite all of you in for coffee today. I’ve been out of town so I don’t have my normal selection of coffee and tea, but I think I have enough for everyone. Here is a nice selection of coffee, including a decaf. I also have several hot teas, including my favorite hot cinnamon and a nice green tea. It’s finally getting cold here in the Ohio Valley so please join me in my writing studio after you help yourself. It was 39F degrees when I got up this morning. We have not even had our first frost yet which is unheard of.
If we were having coffee this morning, I would love to tell you about an experience I had while traveling yesterday. I didn’t travel very far. Just about 180 miles round-trip within my own state. But, it was an enlightening experience. I was on a short day trip to visit a friend who lives deep in the heart of Appalachia. As we drove the 90 miles to my friend’s home, it was strange for me. My mother grew up in Appalachia and my grandparents on her side were born and raised there. As a child and teenager, I remember Appalachia and some of the areas I drove through yesterday to be thriving, even prosperous.
There was farming on every piece of flat land. There were coal trucks rattling down highways by the dozens. There was a little industry though the geographical difficulty caused by poor roads limited that. But there were people there. Working people. People taking care of their families. That isn’t the feeling I had as I drove through the Eastern Kentucky section of Appalachia yesterday.
I felt like everyone and everything was gone and someone had forgotten to turn out the lights.
There is little mining though there still is some because coal does keep the lights on. There is only a bit of industry. There is no farming. There is a small service economy. Besides that, nothing.
So, being the researcher that I am, I got home and started looking up population statistics. Well, I’m right. Everyone IS gone. In the counties I was in, from 2010 to 2014, the population decreased between 2.5% – 8%. That is a huge change in only four years. You can see one of the reasons by looking at more statistics. Their labor force participation rate was less than 50%.
It is true the elderly people in the area are not working. The young people in the area are leaving. The rest of the people? The drug use and welfare problem is huge. To be fair, there are few jobs with the health care industry being the fastest growing sector in the area.
The counties I was in were Morgan, Wolfe, Perry, Breathitt, Magoffin, and Lee. It seems to be that there is a huge opportunity in that corner of Appalachia to push the reset button. If not, someone go in and turn out the lights. Otherwise, it is way too sad.
I hope everyone has a great week! See you next weekend! #amwriting #amblogging #writing #Appalachia #EasternKentucky
*This post sponsored by Parttime Monster Blog