Dr. James M. Davis "The Time For Real Change is NOW" - Clay County / Manchester, KY

Dr. James M. Davis

Op-Ed by Dr. James M. Davis

December 2, 2016

"The times, they are a changing" is an old adage to express how an individual views progress, development and opportunity within their respective community. Although we often observe the positive changes taking place throughout the region and the nation, we still find that our local hometown people continues to suffer from economic stagnation due to inept leadership, corrupt practices, and a reputed culture of nepotism.

If Manchester-Clay County is to move forward like many other cities and counties in the region and create opportunities for it's people, then as a collective community we must resolve to demand action, NOW, not two years from now, not after the next election, but NOW, by holding those officials who have the authority to make things happen accountable for progress, development and results.

I am neither naïve nor viewing through rose-colored glasses that the task ahead is easy or can happen over night, but I am suggesting that a lack of effort has not and is not getting results. Whether an elected official, who as an authorized leader is a member of the Board of Education, the City Council, or the Clay County Fiscal Court, they MUST be able to express and demonstrate a positive vision for growth and opportunity that couples with an action plan agenda.

I am merely a citizen, an avid voter, and concerned parent and now a first-time grand parent who wants real change for our community.

We continue to see a population decrease over the last two-three census reports and as I provided in a presentation entitled "20/20 VISION to the City and County" officials in the spring of 2011, our community is getting "older and more poor" each year as younger families leave to find work and opportunity elsewhere.

A few ideas, thoughts, and potential projects includes:

  • 1. Provide the leadership necessary to leverage the partnership between Clay, Leslie, and Knox counties in order to lobby the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority to assist in the recruitment of a major manufacturer to locate at the Elk Hill Industrial Park.

    A major manufacturing plant of 200 full-time jobs at an average of $12 per hour plus benefits generates approximately $5 million dollars of earned income, reduces unemployment, and provides workforce opportunity close to home saving people travel time and fuel expenses which can increase quality family time and increase discretionary spending.

  • 2. Continue to work with local, state, and federal agencies to move forward with a Clay County Lake project given that much of the municipal water used in Clay County comes from the small Bert T. Combs Lake which must be subsidized with water pumped in from the Goose Creek and other external sources of water coming from out-of-county. Not only would this provide municipal water for residential, commercial, and industrial needs but could provide a significant tourist attraction with sport fishing, recreational boating, camping and hiking the surrounding areas.
  • 3. Utilize the UK Extension Service and Kentucky State University education and training officials to create cooperative farming arrangements in agribusiness for cedar farms to grow, harvest and sell Christmas trees from no longer used tobacco lands; create grape vineyard coops and other new sustainable crops such as honeybees, hemp, etc.
  • 4. Work in collaboration with Clay, Leslie, and Perry officials to find coal severance tax dollars or Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) funds or other highway development funds to expand the Hal Rogers Parkway (former Daniel Boone Parkway) from alternating 2-3 lanes to a full-time four lane highway that can increase access, improve transportation time, enhance driver safety, and open up the region to more tourism and economic development activities.
  • 5. Work to revitalize downtown Manchester with a community renaissance movement to improve the aesthetic images downtown, improve and upgrade community parks, and develop an arts and humanities cottage industry for artisans, crafters, musicians, and others to create, display, and market their products. Work to procure private and Kentucky Humanities Council funding to develop an Appalachian Culture and History Museum to support the preservation of our unique mountain culture which can also serve as a tourist attraction.
  • 6. Work to develop a public-private partnership to secure the funds to refurbish and upgrade the city owned swimming pool to a water park with multiple slides and wave pool which is in great proximity of the Governor's Campground and Bert T. Combs Lake.
  • 7. Develop and implement a new Career & Technical Education (CTE) program in Industrial Maintenance Technology between the CCHS and the CC Area Technology Center which can provide skills development training in higher wage, higher demand career pathways in advanced manufacturing, welding technology, electrical technology, and robotics. Implement a CTE Computer Science program of study in cooperative agreement between CCHS, CC-ATC, and EKU to train programmers, coders, and other technicians for the higher wage, higher demand technology careers.
  • Political reform, policy change, economic development, and growth opportunities require effective, ethical leadership.

    I urge every citizen to get involved, become more engaged, resist apathy, and demand a new future for our community. Our children, grandchildren, and the entire community needs each of us to demand and expect more of our elected and authorized officials.

    Together as a collective, cohesive group of concerned citizens we will create the conditions for hope, opportunity, and more prosperity. Nobody should have to pack up, sell out, and leave their family, their friends and neighbors, and their beloved hometown just to find a job.

    We can do better, we must do better, and the future is now...demand reforms, change, and real leadership!



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