Continuing with our Hazard Community Spotlight Series, today we’re featuring the insights of Betsy Clemons, Executive Director of Hazard Perry County Chamber of Commerce. Learn about why she loves her community.
Who are you, and what roles do you fill in your community?
I am the Executive Director of the Hazard Perry County Chamber of Commerce. A strong passion of mine is to help revitalize and diversify our economy that has been affected by the downtown of the coal industry. Hazard and Perry County are home to me, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I feel very fortunate to live and work in the same community as my five siblings. Beside my chamber duties, I serve on several incredible non-profit boards in the community, such as the Hazard Perry County Economic Development Alliance, the Housing Development Alliance, the ARH Foundation for Healthy Communities, the Hazard Independent College Foundation Board, Redbud Financial, the Appalachian Arts Alliance, the Coalfields Industrial Authority and the Workforce Investment Board part of Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program. I also work closely with the City of Hazard, the Hazard Independent Schools System and Appalachian Regional Healthcare to help support and promote.
What do you most appreciate about your community?
I appreciate the people of my community along with the natural beauty of the mountains. They are our biggest assets. Our community has the most intelligent, diverse, passionate and talented population of anywhere in America. I appreciate organizations such as InVision Hazard, the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, MACED, our elected officials, my family, along with the many local non-profits that work hard to provide the resources and partnerships that make our community better. Hazard, Perry County is fortunate to have the Appalachian Regional Healthcare Regional Medical Center to provide excellent healthcare to the area, two school systems, the Hazard Independent and Perry County, as well as the Hazard Technical and Community College that offers a range of educational and workforce opportunities.
What’s your vision for Hazard, and what’s a community project you’ve been a part of that makes strides towards that vision?
My vision for Hazard to diversify the economy by attracting new industry, maintaining existing businesses , while revitalizing downtown. A community project I am involved in is the renovation of the old bus station, located downtown Hazard, into an art center called the ArtStation and the River Arts Greenway, a walking/bike path. The Art Station will be a space to host community events and offer art, music, dance, and drama lessons to students throughout the region. The River Arts Greenway is a walking/bike path along the North Fork of the Kentucky River that loops back through town, creating a community space, incorporating art, while providing healthy opportunities to exercise and work in community gardens.
The River Arts Greenway and the Art Station both will help bring the spark to reinvent our downtown as a destination. They will not only serve local residents who live here in Hazard and Perry County,and the surrounding counties, but also our visitors, including some who may be considering moving here. My vision is when crowds of people are finding good reasons to gather in our downtown, new businesses will surely follow. I want to see more opportunities created so our youth will want live, work and raise their families here, after attending college.
Who is a member of your community that you admire and why?
There are so many members of my community I admire. If I had to name someone, it would have to be my sisters: Helen, Annie and Jenny. The passion and commitment of volunteer effort to make our community to be a better place inspires me everyday. They, like me, do not like recognition, but just like trying to improve our area. They work to educate and make our community healthier, provide exposure to the arts, help raise awareness to many diverse causes, help fund raise for our many critical non-profit organizations, and always ready to help those in need while working full time jobs. We work on many projects together and I am forever grateful for them. I would have to thank our late mother, Edythe Williams, for teaching us the value of giving back to your community. Hazard and Perry County are much better off today because of their efforts. They, along with many others just like them, work tirelessly to make our dreams come true; Hazard, Perry County is the best place to live, work and play.