One of the economic development projects which had a lot of promise was the rabbit-raising program. There was an expanding market for rabbits and their by-products.
The program was made possible by a low-interest, revolving loan from LKLP to the Sand Lick Community Action Council. For an individual to get started he needed no upfront money, but obligated himself to the project for $200.00. He was given rabbits, hutches, five months feed supply, feeders and medicine. The costs were deducted from the $200.00. Adults or youngsters could participate if approved.
Tom Hale, an experienced rabbit man, was Director of the program. Tom planned to pick up rabbits for the growers and markets in Ohio or North Carolina.
The plan was to sell the rabbit to meat processing plants, at first, and later expand to laboratories. By-products were to be marketed for trinkets and good luck charms, the fur for hats and clothing, unused parts for compost and the manure for gardens. The manure droppings would house night crawlers to be sold for fishing bait.
Fifteen participants enrolled with approximately 50 others showing interest. With the tremendous interest in the program, it was projected that a processing plant may be needed in the area. An abandoned mining bath house was converted as a large rabbit house as well as individuals raising rabbits.
The Atlanta Regional OEO office was very supportive and assisted LKLP in sponsoring a statewide meeting inviting Colonel Sander to participate. He did and provided boxed lunches of rabbit and chicken, and also indicated an interest in providing rabbit along with chicken in the Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets, if the supply could be adequate.
OEO encouraged new approaches to eliminating poverty. Experiments were encouraged. This idea appeared to be a good one but never achieved the success projected.
The Greenhouse Project was located in the community of Talcum in Knott County. Johnny and Reve Fugate were the developers and caretakers. The plan was to raise plants for gardeners in the neighborhood.
Problems developed with the heating and cooling of the greenhouse and with a lack of volunteers. The structure was destroyed in a storm and the community was not able to repay the loan.
Flower and Craft Shop
Lora Springer, in the Jones Fork community, was responsible for developing and receiving a loan for the community to develop a flower and craft shop.
The loan was paid back to LKLP, and the women involved started working out of their homes.
The Hall community in Knott County developed a sewing center with a loan from LKLP. They were able to pay their loan back, but the Community Center burned, and the equipment was destroyed.
The Sassafras community in Knott County received a LKLP Economic Development loan to establish a yarn shop. Community residents came to a center and made rugs. The community paid off the loan and used their profits for community functions.
The Buckhorn Community in Perry County received a loan and purchased a sawmill which created jobs for eleven low-income persons.
The community paid off its loan and made money.
The equipment was eventually given back to LKLP and was turned over to the LKLP Manpower Program. The mill provided lumber for bridges and homes and was successful, but was eventually sold to a private individual.
The Upholstery Shop was funded through a loan on Second Creek in Perry County. It was later moved to Knott County and operated by LKLP. The loan was repaid and the shop provided jobs for several people.
The shop was eventually sold to a private individual, and a couple of the employees opened their own shops.
Skating Rink and Entertainment Center
The skating rink was funded to the Upper Carr Community Center. The Center was built through the LKLP Manpower Program with much of the material being salvaged material from the Carr Fork Lake Project.
The loan was repaid, and the building is still used for basketball and community functions. The skating rink was cancelled because of damage to the floor.
Lower Mill Creek Sewing Center
The Lower Mill Creek Sewing Center was fairly successful and was able to repay its loan. The Center eventually went out of business.
A request for funds for a laundromat was requested by the Vicco community in Perry County. Plans were completed, and the project was approved. It was never funded because a local resident started the same business.
This private business met the need of the community, so the action of the community solved a problem even though they didn't establish a business.
The Golden Years Rest Home is located at Jenkins, Kentucky. It was developed by the Mayking Community Action Council. The old Sharon Heights Hospital was leased and a 40-bed rest home developed for underprivileged citizens 62 years and older. The funding for the project came from Farmers Home Administration, LKLP revolving loan fund, from the Mayking community and other donations.
Bill Craft was the first Administrator. He had served on the LKLP Board and was Chairman of the Board in the early years of LKLP.
Leslie County was probably somewhat more isolated than the other counties. They chose to use the LKLP economic development loan for TV cables.
Jacks Creek was funded and developed a successful cable network and sold it to a private company. They did generate the service that they needed for the community.
Beach Fork was also funded and developed a cable network.
Other communities planned to follow in the footsteps of Beach Fork and Jacks Creek, which caused cable companies to build or expand their service area.
The Bottling Plant was to be at SECO-Whitaker in Letcher County. It was estimated that this project would create twenty to thirty jobs in both the plant and delivery routes.
The equipment was purchased and the building made ready. The water was tested by Double Cola and founded to be more than adequate. An experienced supervisor was available so the community purchased some drinks and began developing market routes.
There was some speculation that Coca Cola and R.C. caused environmental people to get involved. This was never substantiated, but the environmental people did get involved. The water source was classified as surface water and therefore required a treatment plant. The water from the washing bottles was not toxic and was run into the creek. This was the understanding as to how the other companies did it. The environmental group required a lagoon to be built.
The bottling plant appeared to be a good idea, but the cost to comply was prohibitive so the plant never developed.
Central Head Quarters Offices
One of the deals cut in the merger of the counties was to put the Central Headquarters in Letcher County. This made no sense from a geographical standpoint, but there was a feeling that Hazard and Perry County would dominate this new agency if the Central Office was in Hazard.
The Central Office stayed in Letcher County for 10 years, was in Hazard for 9 years, then moved to the old Carr Creek High School building located on the beautiful Carr Fork Lake where it was housed for 17 years and is now in the Old Dilce Combs High School building located in Jeff, Kentucky (Hazard).