Editor’s Note: This article is about the poverty in Kentucky – yet it could have been written about living conditions in Grayson County and Southwestern Virginia. The predators (who like to call themselves the “elite“) are the authors of these kinds of situations. Conditions like this exist because people have turned from the Creator God; and are in violation of His requirements that everyone must love their neighbor as they love themselves. Because of this great sin, the predators have had a “field day” of stripping everyone of their property, dreams, and their God-given right to pursue happiness. Yes, people need to repent and turn to their Creator; and the predators need to be exposed for the evil and corrupt rats they are.
The crime of this great neglect and famine of love is shared by those who have rejected the Almighty and the predators who are greedy rats who lust for power and are psychopathic parasites.
Such great hardship and suffering is inexcusable in a world of abundance and beauty. Every minute this inequity continues wrath from on-high builds up; there is a point of “no return” and that point is very, very close. It is time for everyone to wake up, and smell the stench of the predators. Then expose them for the inhumane bacteria they are.
America’s poorest county: Proud Appalachians who live without running water or power in region where 40% fall below poverty line
It was a county formed 19 years before the Civil War.
But in the towns lying between borders in Owsley, in the coal fields of eastern Kentucky, a portrait of Americans shows a community that appears frozen in time, where many still live without water or electricity.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the Appalachian county has the lowest median household income in the states – a staggering 41.5 per cent of residents falling below the poverty line.
Slovenly: Former chimney sweeper Mose Noble keeps a kitchen littered with dirty pots, pans and dishes that spill onto the floor
Job shortages hit the region hard due to declines in demand for coal, lumber and tobacco; and the community of 4,700 is struggling for work.
The U.S. Census Bureau considers low income roughly $45,000 a year for a family of four. In Owsley, the median household income is $19,351 – the lowest in the country outside of Puerto Rico.
Some get around on horseback, pictured passing cars on trails that attract riders from outside the region who contribute to revenue.
In Boonesville, a town was named for frontiersman, Daniel Boone, abandoned buildings line paved roads.
Rural: Nine-year-old Johnny Noble runs barefoot toward his uncle Mose outside the former chimney sweep’s trailer in Appalachia
Filth: Johnny Noble sits inside his uncle’s trailer, sandwiched between a stack of logs and clutter from all sides
Childhood: The trailer where Johnny is playing has no electricity or running water, but Mose Noble receives governmental aide and nieighbours have offered to help when they can
Family: Mose Noble, right, rolls up his sleeves during a visit with his nephew
At work: Mose Noble, left, and Lowell Morris, right, sit while taking a break from cleaning a cemetery in Booneville, Owsley County on April 16
Bare bones: Paul Neace, 72, sits in his Booneville home on April 20, his dog eating out of a milk jug
Community: Right to left, family members Ronnie Duff, Love Faith Duff, Jacob Lucas and Hope Lucas gather on their porch in Booneville on April 20
On horseback: Riders pass an abandoned car during the Owsley County Saddle Club trail ride on April 20 in Booneville
Entertainment: James Moore, centre, plays the guitar as Robert Go, left, sings while revelers hug at Joe’s Meat Market #2
Spirits high: Owsley County Outreach Center director Cleda Turner chats with a resident in front of a school bus used for donated supplies on April 16
Locals stops: Barber Gary Mays, centre, chats with retired butcher Jesse Johnson, right, in Mays’ barber shop on April 20
Kidding around: Mechanic Chucky Oliver, left, jokes with a client at his shop
Earning a living: Mr Oliver welds a pipe at his auto repair shop in Booneville on April 19
But residents take pride in their community’s history; and locals are driven to help one another through hard times.
Lowell Morris is paid $8 per hour to do the work while his friend, Mose Noble, volunteers to help, even though he relies on governmental aide and the kindess of neighbours to help when they can.
His modest trailer in Booneville has no electricity, and no running water. Pots and pans spill from the kitchen sink and litter the floor, sodden with dirt and worn through the years.
The condition of his home doesn’t appear to bother his nine-year-old nephew, Johnny Noble, who runs barefoot outside, and plays with matchbox cars on a table sandwiched in between the clutter.
Mr Noble’s situation is not unfamiliar to those in the region.
Getting ready: Drucilla Smith, centre, prepares for the Owsley County High School prom in her home with sister Linda Hall
Primping: Drucilla Smith, lower left, has her hair done as she prepares for the Owsley County High School prom in her home with sister Linda Hall, top left, Layla Johnson, bottom centre, and mother Bonnie Smith, right
Finishing touches: Drucilla, left, with her sister Jennifer Johnson, centre is nearly ready for the high school dance
A grand affair: Brittany Brewer, centre, fixes her gown as she prepares for the Owsley County High School prom next to a wood stove in the home where she lives with her grandmother
Growing up fast: Married students Starr Lewis, second right, Travis Lewis and daughter Ariel Lewis, three weeks, attend the Owsley County High School prom on April 21
Picture time: Dates Coty Shouse, centre, and Destiny Duff, right, gather as Destiny’s father Ronnie Duff, left, passes a baby to be photographed while preparing for the prom
A day to remember: Students enter the Owsley County High School Prom as family and community members watch from the bleachers
Making ends meet: Willis Little poses next to items he has available for sale on his front porch in Booneville on April 20
Lots of love: Left to right, family members Hope Lucas, Jesse Lucas, Jacob Lucas and Love Faith Duff gather near home in Booneville on April 20
On the town: Owsley County Outreach Center director Cleda Turner, centre, carries food to be delivered from her thrift store to children as part of the center’s Food Backpack Program on April 19
Faith: Parishioners gather as Sugar Camp Baptist Church pastor Tim Charlton preaches on April 22
Kentucky pride: A man walks beneath an American flag at the Owsley County Saddle Club trail ride on April 20
Saddle up: Horse riders prepare to depart after a break at a gas station during the Owsley County Saddle Club trail ride on April 21
Giving back: A man loads scrap wood available for free to residents in Owsley County in Lerose on April 17
Playful: Baby Jacob Lucas rests inside a thrift store in Owsley County on April 19
Catching up on events: A man reads a newspaper after meeting a friend at a local diner on April 22
Abandoned: An old sign is overgrown with dead weeds downtown on April 22
Empty: An abandoned building is a haunting reminder of the county’s dire state
Helping hands: Volunteers restore the Noble Pioneer Museum, which contains artifacts of local Appalachian pioneer life
Keeping eye: Owsley County Saddle Club board members Larry Campbell, right, and Ricky Marshall man the entrance gate at the Owsley County Saddle Club trail ride on April 19
Still burning: People gather around a fire at the Owsley County Saddle Club trail ride
Paul Neace, 72, feeds his dog from a milk jug; a calender nailed on the wall next to yellowed photos and torn mail wedged behind the doorframe decorate the worn blue walls of his home.
Nearby, Willis Little stands on his front porch, selling his clothes for extra cash.
There are still reasons to celebrate in the towns of Owsley.
Volunteers are restoring the Noble Pioneer Museum, which contains artifacts of local Appalachian pioneer life; and the Owsley County Saddle Club trail ride rings late into the night each spring.
The Owsley County High School prom is a grand affair for teenagers. Married students Starr and Travis Lewis celebrated before the dance with their three-week-old daughter, Ariel. Their classmates, Drucilla Smith and Brittany Brewer, are pictured with their families putting the finishing touches on their tulle dresses dyed pink and baby blue.
Family and community members are invited to see the students pose for photos at the gym, celebrating with them the teenage rite of passage – one of the last before a life built on hard work and responsibility as a means of survival.
Last year, 48.6 per cent of the population in Owsley below 18-years-old fell below the poverty line – a seven per cent increase from their parents’ generation.