Decreasing coal severance funds spell trouble for Breathitt County Museum

JACKSON, Ky (WYMT) - Coal severance funds are running out, which is a fact you probably knew.

But what you might not know is how it is impacting specific communities in our region. In Breathitt County, one woman is fighting to finish a project despite funding that has disappeared.

Breathitt County Museum Director Janie Griffith knows the Old Breathitt County Jail is historic. So when she heard its future was unclear, she knew she had to do something.

"There was a rumor that they were going to demolish the building. Please, we went before the fiscal court. Please do not tear it down," said Griffith.

It worked. County officials decided not to destroy the landmark, thanks in large part to Griffith. The county now leases the building and over the last few years, Griffith has gone to work restoring the cells.

"First you do the roof. Then after the roof, we had to make it handicap accessible. We had to put restrooms in. We had to put stairwells in. We had to put an elevator in," said Griffith.

So far, it has cost around half a million dollars with about another quarter of a million to go. Griffith tells WYMT the coal severance funds that used to keep the project afloat are slowly sinking away.

"So when you only get one fourth of the funding coming back into the county that was anticipated, you know, it is not there," said Griffith.

Now she is looking at grant funding and other options to finish the floors.

"Maybe we can get just a little bit from different places enough to finish it," said Griffith.

She said it is an investment she believes will pay for itself.

"The school's children can come in here. The teachers can bring them in. Tour groups can come in. We could just do so much with that building if we can get it finished," said Griffith.

One Breathitt County magistrate tells me the county is losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in coal severance funds.


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus

WKYT

2851 Winchester Rd. Lexington, Ky 40509 859-299-0411 - switchboard 859-299-2727 - newsroom
Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 253644691 - wkyt.com/a?a=253644691
Gray Television, Inc.