The UPike controversy continues in Harlan County

By: Jerrika Insco Email
By: Jerrika Insco Email

The University of Pikeville controversy continues and it is centered around where funds to make it a public university would come from.

Today, UPike President Paul Patton talked about that with the Harlan County Fiscal Court.

The 13 million dollar proposal from the multicounty coal severance fund did not settle well with Harlan County officials from the beginning, and they say they still remain opposed even after Patton's efforts today.

When Pikeville College became a university, officials accomplished one big goal. But a push to become a public university is not as well received.

Harlan County officials say they support higher education but not where the money would come from.

"The counties that are listed here should have been an opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not they wanted to support this issue with UPike," said David Kennedy, a magistrate in Harlan County.

The 13 million dollars from the multicounty coal severance fund would allow UPike to go public.

UPike President Paul Patton explained to the opposed Harlan County Fiscal Court how those dollars should be spent.

"It is tax generated by the state. It is appropriated to the state to achieve a state purpose that is growing the economy of this community," said Paul Patton.

Patton says UPike as a public university would help the 12 county district grow.

Harlan County magistrates are not convinced their county would reap many of those benefits and would rather use the money elsewhere.

"The scarce coal severance dollars will be committed to this project and take away from more opportunity for other projects as we need those to move the county forward," said Joe Grieshop, the judge-executive in Harlan County.

But like Patton said it is out of their hands and up to the legislatures to decide.

Patton say 530,000 of that 13 million will be spent in Harlan County for UPike extension campuses.

Harlan county magistrates say they are concerned about coal suffering and do not want coal severance dollars to be tied up with UPike.

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