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SOAR leaders gather input from citizens at listening session in Prestonsburg

By: Tanner Hesterberg Email
By: Tanner Hesterberg Email

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Dozens of people came together Thursday night to discuss ways to improve our region as part of the Shaping Our Appalachian Region, or SOAR, initiative.

The SOAR Regional Collaboration & Identity work group held a listening session in Prestonsburg to gather input from business leaders and people who live in the area about what defines Eastern Kentucky as a region.

"This group is geared toward discovering what people really think about their community," said Sandy Runyon, who chairs the group. "I want them to let me know what they think are the three most important assets of their community, county or city."

Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers started SOAR last year with the goal of changing Eastern Kentucky's economy to rely less on the coal industry.

Ten work groups were created under the SOAR umbrella.

About 40 people attended Thursday's listening session.

USDA representative Elwood Howe said at the session, "Regionalism is the realization that what affects my community good or bad affects my neighboring community good or bad. We have to work together to help each other because we can no longer stand alone."

While that work group was meeting Thursday, the SOAR Agriculture, Community and Regional Foods, Natural Resource work group met in Morehead.

More listening sessions will be held this summer.

The official SOAR website also launched Thursday. You can visit the site at soar-ky.org.

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