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Public TV follows country boys
A six-hour film on the lives of two eastern Kentucky teenagers will air on KET public television in early January.

Country Boys follows Chris Johnson and Cody Perkins as they work through school and family difficulties from ages 15 to 18. The show was filmed from 1999 to 2002, profiling the two teens who attended the David School in Floyd County.

Following the final episode, KET will host a call-in show about at-risk youth, adult mentoring, and other subjects raised in the film.

The first two 2-hour segments will air on KET at 9 p.m. Eastern time on January 9 and 10. The third will be broadcast on January 11 at 9 p.m., followed by the call-in show at 10 p.m.

The showing will be accompanied by a national campaign to build awareness and support systems for young people. Partners in the project include 4-H, Al-Anon/Alateen, and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. More information about the campaign can be found at

Guest Opinion
Asking “What if” in the Kentucky Coalfields

by David Ledford

Working for a wildlife habitat conservation organization requires me to look through rose-colored glasses and ask, What if…? How can we…? And Why not?

My job is to develop and implement a landscape conservation plan for the 16-county elk restoration zone in the eastern coalfields of Kentucky.

There are about 5,300 elk in eastern Kentucky. Research shows that most of these elk spend a lot of time around reclaimed surface mines because of the abundant food sources.

We partnered with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife to receive an $862,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore habitat on private lands for imperiled species in the eastern coalfields. The Elk Foundation provided a $400,000 match, so we have more than $1.2 million to spend. We are focusing on declining numbers of songbirds, but elk, quail, and other species will benefit.

We are targeting old surface mines reclaimed with fescue and other undesirable vegetation under guidelines developed in the late 1970s. While these guidelines have been good at protecting water quality and reducing erosion, new reclamation techniques can do even more. We are working with multiple partners to develop new guidelines and provide incentives to the mining industry to create the best wildlife habitat possible during reclamation. Partners include state and federal agencies, the Kentucky Coal Association, other wildlife conservation groups, and several coal and mining companies.

Last summer in Louisville, we spearheaded a Mine Reclamation for Wildlife Summit attended by more than 200 policymakers, university scientists, conservation groups, and representatives from the mining industry. U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Interior Rebecca Watson has supported this effort and spoke at the summit, as did the director of the Office of Surface Mining, Jeff Jarrett. This event solidified the idea that we can have high-quality habitat on reclaimed mines if we create the right business and regulatory environment.

Imagine having a population of 10,000 elk in eastern Kentucky within six years. What if we had vast expanses of reclaimed coal mines supporting thriving populations of rare grassland songbirds, and a wealth of other wildlife that attracts birdwatchers, hikers, and hunters from across the country, bringing their dollars with them? How can we create an environment where mining companies become the driving force behind wildlife habitat restoration because it makes good business sense? We can do this. We will succeed. And when naysayers declare it can’t be done, we will ask, Why not?

To join the Elk Foundation and help achieve this vision, call (800) CALL-ELK.

David Ledford is director of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Appalachian Wildlife Initiative

With fuel prices up, electric heat is best bargain
This winter, residential space-heating expenditures are projected to increase for all fuel types compared to year-ago levels, according to forecasts by the Energy Information Administration in its October Short-Term Energy Outlook.

Here are comparisons of projected home heating fuel costs:

  • Households heating primarily with natural gas can expect to spend about $350 (48 percent) more this winter on fuel;
  • Households heating primarily with heating oil can expect to pay, on average, $378 (32 percent) more this winter;
  • Households heating primarily with propane can expect to pay, on average, $325 (30 percent) more this winter;
  • Households heating primarily with electricity can expect, on average, to pay $38 (5 percent) more.

These averages provide a broad guide to changes from last winter, but fuel expenditures for individual households are highly dependent on local weather conditions, the size and efficiency of individual homes, and their heating equipment and thermostat settings.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration projects a 0.4 percent colder winter in the Lower 48 states, relative to normal winter weather, which would be 3.2 percent colder than last winter.

Prices for petroleum and natural gas will remain high due to tight international supplies of crude and hurricane-induced supply losses.

The price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil is projected to average close to $58 per barrel in 2005 and $64-$65 per barrel in 2006. Continued high crude oil prices had been expected prior to hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Under the baseline weather case, natural gas prices are expected to average around $9 per thousand cubic feet (mcf) in 2005 and around $8.70 per mcf in 2006. Complete recovery of energy infrastructure from hurricane damage will take many months. However, considerable recovery should occur by the end of 2005.

Retail gasoline prices are expected to average close to $2.35 per gallon in 2005 and about $2.45 in 2006. Residential electricity prices are expected to average 9.3 cents per kilowatt-hour (kwh) in 2005 and about 9.5 cents per kwh in 2006, with significant regional differences depending on the fuel mix used to generate electricity in each region of the country. Under a colder weather scenario, prices for natural gas and all petroleum products are projected to be somewhat higher.

Energy market projections are subject to considerable uncertainty. Price projections are particularly uncertain, because small shifts in either supply or demand, which are both relatively insensitive to price changes in the current market environment, can necessitate large price movements to restore balance between supply and demand.

The Short-Term Energy Outlook can be found on EIA’s Web site at:

—Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy

Keyboard Christmas
A pair of CDs with 42 traditional Christmas songs can start or add to your holiday collection. Sounds of Christmas Fun and Inspiring Sounds of Christmas by Kentuckian Shirley Chiles Humphreys contain gentle keyboard versions of most of the classics you can think of, from O Holy Night to Jingle Bell Rock. The discs are available at Joseph-Beth or Barnes & Noble bookstores. For more info, call (859) 948-2086, or go to the Web site

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