eKAMI teaches coal miners new trades in an advanced facility in Paintsville, grab a box of chocolates and the Opera Creams at Schneider’s Sweet Shop in Bellevue, and fathers and daughters carry on a barber legacy in Louisville and Elizabethtown.
Coal mining was once a reliable career in Eastern Kentucky, but with jobs in that industry dwindling, many residents of the region are looking for other options. A new training program in Paintsville is helping former miners prepare for 21st century jobs.
The Eastern Kentucky Advanced Manufacturing Institute, known as eKAMI, is an answer to the question of how to put coal country’s labor force back to work.
Schneider’s Sweet Shop
In Northern Kentucky, families have been coming to Schneider’s Sweet Shop in Bellevue to get their sugar fix since the 1930s.
Jack Schneider is the current owner. His father started the business and kept it in the family.
“Basically I was born in this building,” he says. “When I was about 13 years old, my dad came up and dragged me off the couch and said, it’s time for you to go to work. You’re 13, you’re old enough. If we got busy down in the store, my dad would go bang on a pipe. You’d better come running down and help with the customers. I can remember sitting there and doing my homework all night long. It was a family thing. My brothers and sisters were all involved, same thing.”
A Family of Barbers
The Louisville barbershop Beards & Beers has a modern vibe, but behind the craft beers and hipster aesthetic is a long family tradition in the barber profession.
“We have a great sense of pride in what we do and who we are, where we’re taking this career,” says Melissa Gray, Master Barber and owner of Beards & Beers. “I know when my dad was 14 years old and decided to be a barber I don’t think he ever thought it would go as far as it has. I think he’s pretty proud of us.”