I missed the mark by a solid decade last week as I wrote about local efforts to deliver bottled water to nearby Martin County.

Those problems actually began in October, 2000 (I wrote 2010) when the bottom of a coal slurry impoundment broke into an abandoned underground mine below. The sludge poured out, sending an estimated 306,000,000 gallons of slurry down two branches of the Tug Fork River.

The spill, which contained arsenic and mercury, killed everything in the water.

It was “30 times larger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill,” according to Wikipedia, and yet it is largely forgotten even in neighboring counties.

In the 18 years which have passed, it is still not safe to drink the water in Martin County. Many residents are even hesitant to use it to bathe in.

I hadn’t been back in Kentucky for more than a few weeks when I found myself interviewing a man who lived on the Mart County border. I commented that he lived in a beautiful place, and that I especially liked the pretty little creek running around the edge of his property.

“It may be pretty, but it will never have another living thing in it during our lifetime,” he said, explaining that babbling branch was among those poisoned by the slurry spill.

Educators and students at local schools have teamed up with their counterparts statewide to collect and deliver bottled water to Martin County. If you can help, drop bottled water off at Carter City Elementary, West Carter Middle School in Olive Hill or East Carter Middle School in Grayson.

Winter Adventures await

At last report, several hundred people from at least eight other states have already signed up to enjoy trips, clinics, classes, hikes and other options as part of the upcoming Winter Adventure Weekend at Carter Caves State Resort Park.

This is another of those annual events I always want to devote more time to than is possible, although this year may be the exception.

Due to the holiday on January 21, we will be producing the January 23 Grayson Journal-Enquirer and Olive Hill Times on January 18, which may open additional opportunities for hands-on experiences during Winter Adventure Weekend 2019.

This event gets bigger every year and the team have added several new events, with a whole bunch of brand new things added this year. The best way to get a glimpse is online at winteradventureweekend.com. Winter Adventure Weekend begins Thursday, January 24 and continues through Sunday, January 27.

I’ll add my own salute to the people who organize and offer Winter Adventure Weekend. This is the 10th anniversary of the multi-faceted event, and has served Carter Caves State Resort Park in an outstanding manner since it was created as a replacement for the former “Crawlathon,” which was cancelled due to health concerns about the area’s Indiana Bat population.

Art show next Friday

While we’re marking calendars, you may want to note next Friday will be the first F!nal Fr!day ArtWalk of 2019 at Grayson Gallery & Art Center.

After looking at the long list of incredibly talented musicians who’ve performed there, Gallery Director Dan Click is working to assemble a soundtrack of tunes by those artists. He started rattling off a few of them and I had to admit we’ve been blessed to enjoy some excellent musicianship on that small stage.

Click added, “The gallery board and artists will host a materials and art supplies ‘swap & sale.’ There will also be a presentation during the evening to discuss various art pieces, mediums and more about the creation process. Other news about regional networking across Eastern Kentucky, resources for grants and other funding for artists and projects will be shared as well.”

Nearly 100 pieces of art remain on display as part of the 'Thankful for the Arts' exhibit, which will be from 6 to 9 p.m. January 25.

Beyond Ben's Run

I promise I did consult map and verified which way I was going last week as I attempted to catch up with the Olive Hill and Grayson Fire Departments at the scene of a structure fire near Olive Hill.

“That seems pretty easy,” I thought, declining to print a simple map or even directions as I grabbed my camera and hit the road.

I made it to Ben's Run in Olive Hill, and that's when things went awry. It turns out there's not a single road sign remaining on any of the paths along Rt. 986 and for the life of me I couldn't remember if I was seeking the second or third along the way.

When I rounded a curve and saw a sign welcoming me to Elliott County, I knew I'd missed my turn. I'm not sure how many roads there are which connect Carter and Elliott County, but feel I've accidentally found each of them at this point.

Fortunately, it was a beautiful morning for a drive in the country. Rather than get upset about it, I turned around and took my time getting back to the office. I saw a flock of wild turkey and a herd of deer, and even stopped to photograph a little white church somewhere along the way – one of two for the week!

Tim Preston can be reached at tpreston@journal-times.com, or by telephone at (606) 4745101.

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