PRESTONSBURG – The local chapter of AARP, formerly (American Association of Retired Persons), met to discuss issues effecting older Americans at Highland Terrace on Tuesday. AARP is a nationwide, nonprofit, nonpartisan, social welfare organization with a membership of nearly 38 million that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities, and fights for the issues that matter most to families – such as health care, employment, and income security. AARP is considered one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the nation. Kentucky Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo and Floyd County Judge-Executive Ben Hale were in attendance to talk to members and addressed any questions or concerns.
Stumbo discussed what he considers being vital needs of Eastern Kentucky.
“We have problems here in Eastern Kentucky that unless you live here you may not be aware of,” said Stumbo. “One thing I have discussed with Democratic Presidential Hopeful Hillary Clinton is the building of a road going east. We need to build an interstate from Beckley, West Virginia to Prestonsburg. The reason, it is difficult to attract businesses to Eastern Kentucky because they can’t get their product to the East without going completely out of the way, and this drives up the cost. The interstate would be 100 miles and cost 8 billion dollars to build. This is needed here in Kentucky.”
Stumbo also talked about the section of the new budget plan that addresses the return of coal severance tax. Currently the state transfers about 60 percent of coal severance tax revenues back to coal counties. Currently, the coal counties get back half of these revenues. The House proposed that, over time, 100 percent be sent back to the coal counties. This money in Floyd County is used to fund the senior citizen centers and what Stumbo refers to as “Quality of Life Program”.
Hale spoke to the group and made an official proclamation declaring May as Older American Month in Floyd County.
“I urge every resident to take time this month to acknowledge older adults and the people who serve them as powerful and vital individuals who greatly contribute to our community” declared Hale.
The local AARP chapter in Floyd County is celebrating 34 years as an organization and is currently the only chapter in Eastern Kentucky. John Rosenberg, a local attorney and retired founder and director of Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky, Inc. (AppalReD), a legal service program serving low-income clients, serves as the chapter’s president. The AARP chapter meets the third Tuesday of every month at 5 p.m.
Andrea Saddler is a reporter for The Floyd County Times. She can be reached at (606) 886-8506.