Stakeholders hold meeting with AML staff to discuss projects in Lynch


28th August, 2017



Joshua Ball




Stakeholders hold meeting with AML staff to discuss projects in Lynch

LYNCH, Ky. – Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) was part of a meeting with officials from the Division of Abandoned Mine Lands (AML), Lonnie Riley, founder of Meridzo Ministries, and officials with the Harlan County community of Lynch on Friday, August 25.

Riley discussed the community’s intention to apply for the next round of AML Pilot project funds for projects in the Lynch community.  The ideas discussed by community leaders include enhancements to the Portal 31 mine, broadband access and tourism attractions, such as a climbing wall.  Bob Scott, director of the state’s AML program, and members of his staff were on hand to answer questions

“We feel that Lynch and Harlan County has a lot to offer, and our approach is to do what we can to showcase our beauty to the world and utilize broadband to help bring employment to our people and e-commerce opportunities to our business,” said Riley.

An example of the potential in Lynch is Riley’s Meridzo Ministries, which operates the Lamp House Coffee shop, Black Mountain Exchange and Tri-Cities Trolley and Tours. 

“What Lonnie and his team has created in Lynch and the surrounding community is an example of the entrepreneurial spirit that resides in many of us in eastern Kentucky,” said Joshua Ball, associate executive director of SOAR.  “Our Regional Blueprint outlines strategic goals that were built on the input of 3,000 stakeholders across Appalachia Kentucky, but at the core of everything is passionate and motivated people like Lonnie and his team.”

Members of the Harlan County Fiscal Court and the Cumberland Area Development District were also on hand, as well as Sandi Curd, Kentucky Promise Zone coordinator, and Darrell Maynard, founder of Eastern Telephone and Technologies.

“It is great seeing the people of Appalachia Kentucky take ownership in their future,” added Ball. “They have the ideas and energy to bring true and lasting change to the region.”

SOAR has played a role in advocating for AML projects across the region.  In August, Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers announced the funding of several projects, including:

  • $1.95 million to the Breathitt County Fiscal Court for the development of the South Fork waterline and campground;
  • $1.15 million to Hazard Community and Technical College to create a utility training program on its Leslie County campus;
  • $1.95 million to the City of Prestonsburg for the development of the Prestonsburg to David “Rails to Trails” project; and
  • $1.9 million to the Royalton Trail Town, Inc. to develop a campsite and recreation area on a 15-acre tract of land on the Dawkins Line Trail and Licking River.

For more information on SOAR, visit  For more information on Meridzo Ministries, visit