CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
It was a day for honoring education in Whitley County Thursday.
U.S 5th District Congressman Hal Rogers made two stops in Whitley County Thursday — one at Corbin High School, and the other at Whitley County High School.
While at Whitley County High School, Rogers honored seven students and Board of Education member Delmar Mahan.
After an introduction from Superintendent Scott Paul, Rogers took the podium. "I'm excited about this wonderful school," he said, adding it "makes me proud to know" the school was part of his district.
He then discussed the "terrible coal field layoffs," noting that "8,000 miners have lost their jobs in the last 18 months alone" within the 5th Congressional District.
And he feels this is only the beginning. He explained that new federal legislation passed Monday would mean that "all coal-burning plants in the country would be devastated," leaving what's left of the coal business to further suffer.
He then discussed an initiative where he's teamed up with Governor Steve Beshear. The SOAR initiative — Shaping Our Appalachian Region — Rogers said looks for "ways to expand our economy."
He added that there will never be as many coal-mining jobs as there once was in the state. "We've got to find jobs," he added.
That's where he led to education being a good foundation. He noted that Whitley County High School ranks in the 86th percentile in the state and is only one of five high schools statewide achieving the "Distinguished" rating.
He said that Operation UNITE has assisted in keeping youth in school and away from drugs. Rogers explained that more than 1,100 people, including well-known actress Michelle Pfeiffer, gathered for a National prescription drug abuse summit. "That's one group that has nationally spread the gospel about prescription drug abuse," Rogers said. "It kills more (people) than car wrecks."