We are Soarin’ in Corbin this week. Not the one at Disney World, but rather this is the 2021 SOAR Summit. SOAR is a regional nonpartisan nonprofit that champions local projects, programs, and advocacy for the 54 ARC-mandated counties in Eastern Kentucky. The mandate: To fill the economic gaps left by the decline of the coal industry. The task: To rally our communities to help us achieve these goals together for the good of all.
What is SOAR? It stands for Step, Overcome, Achieve and Renew. Step towards making your dreams a reality. Overcome doubt, fear, procrastination, and anxiety. Achieve your goals and dreams and walk confidently. Renew your mind and eliminate negativity.
In 2013 SOAR was started to look out for the future of Appalachia as the coal industry was in decline and our communities in Appalachia needed help to gain economic stability.
The summit this Wednesday and Thursday will bring attention to unique projects across Eastern Kentucky as more than a thousand participants gather at the Corbin Arena. They will join forces to develop plans that will benefit all who live in the 54 Eastern Kentucky counties of Kentucky.
It is exciting that the summit this year is being held in Corbin. To all our guests, we welcome you to Corbin. Part of the agenda will deal with things like grant and project funding, addressing the nursing shortage, and downtown revitalization and incentives.
I got my first taste of grant writing when I was employed by the Cumberland River Comprehensive Care Center in 1970. There were many people involved in getting funding for our mental health projects. On one occasion Elaine Hayes and I took the volumes of work to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta to make our case. Our funding was approved.
I could have used the information that will be presented at the summit this week. They will talk about conquering your fear and learning the top secrets.
Talk about fear. I had to present an appeal to a State Senate subcommittee for funding of a program. I was accompanied by a lady named Edith Feltner. She kept telling me not to worry.
I had produced a super eight film and used a tape recorder for sound to explain why we need money for a children’s program. The cost of my film work was about $100.
I had the sound in sync with the film. It ran for about ten minutes. I showed it in a committee room at the state capitol with about 15 congressmen present.
After the film ended the senator from Hazard jumped from his seat and pounded on the table and asked how much the film cost. That puzzled and shocked me in the demanding way he said it. When I told him only $100 his remark was, “We just spent $15,000 on a film that wasn’t half as good as yours.” He continued, “I make a motion that we grant the funds for this program.”
We then took our presentation to the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels and received support from that organization. In my time with Comp. Care I learned the value of good grant writing.
It is easy to understand the need for nurses in Appalachia. As part of the agenda they will deal with the shortages and need for nurses. The challenge is greater now than ever because of Covid-19.
Another breakout session will focus on downtown revitalization. We know that everybody wants their downtowns revitalized. We are quite proud of the way both Corbin and Williamsburg have improved their downtown areas. A big part of this success goes to the development of the restaurants we have.
We also appreciate the decorations we have at each season of the year on our downtown street. The baskets of flowers were beautiful this summer and now the street is decorated with fall arrangements.
Yes, we are Soarin’ this week in Corbin. May it be the best summit ever! When I hear Soar, I think of the Soarin’ ride at Disney World. In 2001 when I first rode it, the hang gliding was a trip over California. As you glided under the Golden Gate bridge it felt real. About three years ago I rode it again and it was a trip around the world. A great ride, but probably my last one. Soar is the perfect word to use for the effort to bring prosperity to Appalachia.
Rather than producing a five minute ride, the people behind this effort will produce long lasting stability to a region that is the best in the world.
• You have to be impressed every year when Williamsburg Tourism sponsors the Gateway to the Cumberlands Jeep Jamboree. This year’s will be the 28th annual event.
Acting tourism director Alvin Sharpe does a masterful job of organizing this event that draws Jeep enthusiast from all over the nation. That is because this is the largest jamboree in the United States.
Not only is this a great event, it brings tourism dollars to the city. Tourism officials estimate that it brings in about $120,000 to the local economy over the three days.
You can enjoy this event too by viewing some of the video on You Tube. It is unreal how the drivers conquer the trails.