[Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 42 (Wednesday, March 14, 2012)]
[Senate]
[Pages S1675-S1677]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                        TRIBUTE TO MR. JIM BOOTH

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I rise today to pay tribute to someone

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who has given so much back to the great Commonwealth of Kentucky--
someone who has taken it upon himself to make an investment in the 
betterment of his community, county, and State for generations to come. 
I am speaking of Mr. Jim Booth of Inez, KY.
  Mr. Booth has kept the town of Inez, located in Martin County, close 
to his heart his entire life. In this town he graduated from high 
school, met his wife, Linda, and paid his way through Morehead State 
University by working part-time in the region's coal mines. So many 
milestones in Jim Booth's life have taken place in this eastern 
Kentucky town, it is no surprise that he is so devoted to giving 
something back to the place that's given him and his family so much.
  Jim Booth combined a business administration degree, love for his 
community and its residents, and hard work to stimulate the local 
economy across the board. It has been said that there isn't a single 
growth project in Martin County that doesn't have Jim and Linda Booth's 
fingerprints all over it. The couple manages a coal company, a Ford 
dealership, real-estate agencies, convenience stores, hotels, insurance 
agencies, and a building supply store.
  With so many successful projects in so many industries, it may seem 
that Jim Booth has a lot to brag about. But Jim is a man of modesty and 
humility. He makes it a point not to boast about his own 
accomplishments, but the accomplishments others have made from the 
little push that he gave them. Jim has helped to bring over 2,000 jobs 
to the area, and he is grateful for the exceptional employees that he 
has been so blessed with.
  Booth's story is one of success in the free market, and a testimony 
to what can happen when a small business is given room to take root and 
grow. Mr. Booth bought his first coal mine when he was just 25 years 
old. At the time, the tax rate was 70 percent, and he remembers having 
to borrow against his own income for the next year just to pay the 
business's taxes. ``Then, when Reagan became President and taxes went 
down--BOOM. We're the best story you'll find for how success comes from 
tax relief,'' says Jim.
  Over the next few years, the business experienced tremendous growth 
and success. Jim went on to start a building supply company, and from 
this he put into effect his most important piece of business advice--be 
your own best customer. Mr. Booth made the necessary purchases from the 
building supply store to assist in building numerous hotels, 
convenience stores, and other various buildings and business over the 
years.
  Mr. Booth has a vision of renovating and remodeling virtually the 
entire city of Inez's local infrastructure at some time or another. He 
is almost halfway through this process, as he has already made headway 
providing new facilities for the Martin County Board of Education and 
the Martin County Economic Development Board, of which he is the 
chairman.
  The most prized accomplishment of Mr. Booth is the Roy F. Collier 
Community Center, named in honor of Jim's late friend and business 
partner who passed away in 2005. The facility houses a movie theater, 
indoor track, fitness center, arcade, and large meeting rooms available 
for reservation. The versatile community center provides entertainment 
to over 200,000 residents of Kentucky from across the state annually.
  Along with all of these major improvements to his local community, 
Jim has also sponsored a local basketball tournament, provided the 
chance for anyone who is interested to become a certified coal miner, 
and headed up a campaign that helps combat youth obesity called 
``Martin County on the Move'' with United States Representative Hal 
Rogers. While it may seem like Jim has a lot to celebrate, he stays 
focused on what all of his hard work is really about.
  ``This is home, Linda and I decided to stay here; build here and 
improve our community for the next generation,'' Jim says. Jim is 
determined to providing as much inspiration and as many opportunities 
as he can to those individuals who share with him the same ``home'' of 
Martin County, KY.
  Mr. President, at this time I would like to ask my Senate colleagues 
to join me in commemorating the accomplishments of this treasured 
citizen of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
  In 2011, an article was included in a publication released by the 
Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce that featured the many 
accomplishments that Jim Booth has been able to generate throughout his 
life thus far. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed 
in the Record that article.
  There being no objection, the article was ordered to appear in the 
Record as follows:

        [From the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, 2011]

                               Jim Booth


                   Committed to Economic Development

       There's an old adage that says ``Bloom where you are 
     planted.'' It's apparent that Jim and Linda Booth have taken 
     that saying to heart. Not only have their family and 
     businesses prospered in Martin County, but they have worked 
     to make the entire county ``bloom.'' You can hardly enter a 
     building, walk a trail, or have a bite to eat in which the 
     Booths weren't involved. A short list of businesses the 
     Booths operate include coal mining, a Ford dealership, 
     convenience stores, real estate, building supplies, hotels, 
     and insurance, but the underlying theme is their dedication 
     to cultural and economic development in their hometown.
       ``There's no question, we could have gone other places and 
     it would have been easier, and maybe more profitable as far 
     as the retail side goes,'' Jim explains, ``but I really know 
     that someone had to be involved here in our community. There 
     haven't been very many people willing to do that, but I can 
     tell you, the team we've put together has been able to make 
     our enterprises profitable. Mostly, it has allowed us to 
     employ a lot of people. We employ about 800 in retail and we 
     have around 1,400 coal miners. One way we have made our 
     enterprises work is that we are one of the best customers of 
     about every business we've started. That's given us a base 
     for some sustainability.''
       ``One of the first businesses we started was a building 
     supply, and the next one was a mine supply business, so we 
     were, of course, good customers of both of them. When we 
     built hotels, we used our building supply to furnish the 
     materials. Then we put a team together to build the hotels. I 
     entered into a partnership with my brother-in-law, Kevin 
     Davis, who operates Fast Change Lube & Oil, a chain of 
     Pennzoil Lube Centers. Kevin has done an excellent job in 
     growing our stores, which today we have over 21 lube centers 
     and six car washes. We're a good customer of our insurance 
     companies and, of course, our convenience stores. Even the 
     Ford dealership, we're probably one of the best customers of 
     the dealership. It's not necessarily all been calculated in 
     advance--sometimes opportunities just arise. We entered into 
     the car dealership business in order to keep one here, then 
     we lost the Chevrolet store when the government took over GM. 
     But we still have Ford.''
       Jim and Linda Booth both graduated from Warfield High 
     School; Linda a year after Jim. Jim started college at 
     Morehead State University and Linda began next year. In order 
     to pay their way through school, Jim became a part-time coal 
     miner. ``We drove here (Inez) on weekends,'' Jim remembers, 
     ``and I worked in a service station for my brother. Then, 
     during the day, I worked underground in the mine. Linda and I 
     would drive back to Morehead in time for school. I had Monday 
     through Thursday classes typically, so we could come home on 
     Thursdays. When I graduated, I interviewed for a couple of 
     personnel jobs--I have a business administration degree--and 
     I realized I made more money working part-time as a coal 
     miner than any other offer I was getting at the time.
       I said to Linda, `Let's go back and let me work a little 
     while at the mine,' '' Jim remembers. ``I had a hard time 
     talking her into it but I convinced her,'' he smiles. ``Real 
     quickly I got into management, and by the time I had 
     completed three years' experience, I became a foreman. When I 
     was 25 years old, I got the opportunity to start my own mine. 
     Then, when I was 27, I incurred a hefty sum in income tax! 
     That was when the tax rate was 70 percent. I had a hard time 
     scraping up the money, and then there was no money left for 
     us--it all went to the federal government and I was 
     struggling. I had to borrow money from the next year's 
     earnings to pay the taxes. Then, when Reagan became president 
     and taxes went down--BOOM. We're the best story you'll find 
     for how success comes from tax relief. We would not have 
     survived if the taxes had stayed the same. We bought a brand 
     new set of equipment for our mine. We'd been in business nine 
     years and had not been able to afford new equipment. We had 
     money to use to invest then, and we started growing. We had 
     operated only contract mines until 1988, at which time we 
     were able to get our own operation. We bought an Ashland coal 
     operation in Johnson County, and we began cleaning and 
     washing the coal at the prep plant, marketing the coal--the 
     entire process.''
       ``During that time was when we started to diversify,'' Jim 
     continues. ``We built our first development building--a 
     building that we leased to the post office--it had apartments 
     upstairs. That was the very first investment we completed. We 
     bought the building supply in the early '80s and put the

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     group together that started using our supplies--we buy from 
     ourselves when we build houses, apartments, hotels, and any 
     other retail developments.''
       Jim Booth has many things to be proud of--building an 
     economic conglomerate from scratch, for one--but he is very 
     modest when speaking of his business accomplishments. What he 
     seems most proud of are the jobs and opportunities he's been 
     able to bring to the local people.
       ``We started the convenience stores in '84. The first Fast 
     Lane was in Lovely, KY. We have a really good team--James 
     Mills manages Fast Lane, Fast Lane Tobacco Stores, and 
     Mountain Petroleum, and he does a really good job. Fast Lane 
     has been a great success--not just for Martin County but for 
     the region. Locally, we do tremendous things for the school 
     system. The Fast Lane Classic is second to none--I doubt 
     there is a better pre-season basketball tournament in the 
     state of Kentucky. It's held at Sheldon Clark High School on 
     the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, and some of the best 
     teams in the tri-state participate. UK Wildcat Patrick 
     Patterson participated in our tournament when he played at 
     Huntington High.
       ``Through our businesses, we're able to help a lot of these 
     kids get into the workforce,'' Jim continues. ``They'll tell 
     me, `I got to buy a car because of Taco Bell or KFC' because 
     that's where they work. There wouldn't be those kinds of 
     opportunities here for kids if we didn't have the retail 
     jobs.
       ``On the coal mining sector, we've allowed anybody from the 
     area who wants to be a miner and is qualified to train and 
     become a certified coal miner. To be honest with you, we need 
     coal miners right now. We have several vacancies in our 
     mining operations. We could hire qualified people right 
     now.''
       After Fast Lane, knowing the area needed a hotel, Jim and 
     his team built the Inez Super 8 Hotel. He chose the location 
     because the site had the necessary infrastructure. From 
     there, they moved out from Martin County and began what he 
     refers to as the Interstate Hotels--located in Mt. Sterling, 
     Catlettsburg, and two in Huntington--all on I 64. They're all 
     doing well.
       When asked to describe his business plan, Jim explains it 
     very simply: ``We have mostly grown from within based on 
     common synergies. Almost everyone in management has started 
     on the ground floor and worked their way through the system. 
     Most are local residents. We have a lot of families that 
     every member of the family has worked for us. We try to 
     provide all the opportunities this area can support.''
       The companies have ventured out of Martin County. Jim's 
     son-in-law, Jeff Fraley, operates the United States 
     Achievement Academy in Lexington, which is similar to Who's 
     Who. They do all the printing for the book and have about 100 
     employees. Two other businesses in Lexington are Southeast 
     Mail, the largest bulk mailer in Lexington, and a Bluegrass 
     branch of Elite Insurance.
       Booth Enterprises has gone into Louisa with the new 
     Yatesville Crossing shopping center, containing retail 
     businesses such as Wal-Mart, Appalachian Wireless, and Radio 
     Shack. Plans are to build a medical center on the lower 
     level. As an offspring of the building supply in Lovely, a 
     Surplus Home Center has been opened in Louisa. The company 
     buys oversupply items from different places and ships them to 
     the Center. The buyer is Martin County native Carolea Mills 
     who is also a board member of the Roy F. Collier Community 
     Center.
       Jim Booth really lights up when describing the Collier 
     Community Center and its programs. ``It is probably the most 
     unique centralized facility Martin County has ever 
     established, and it is highly utilized by the community,'' he 
     says. ``Roy Collier was one of my business partners when I 
     started out, and he passed in 2005. I donated the property, 
     so I was allowed to name the building in honor of Roy. The 
     Community Center has four digital 3 D cinemas with surround 
     sound, an indoor walking track, a gift store, a Fun Zone 
     Arcade, a fitness center, video conferencing, a computer lab, 
     and large rooms for receptions or meetings. Over 125,000 
     people per year make use of it. It's a real drawing card--
     people come from surrounding counties--especially for the 
     cinema.''
       Jim was also instrumental in working with Morehead State 
     University, where he has served as chairman of the Board of 
     Regents, to bring the ``Martin County on the Move'' program 
     to Martin County and the Collier Community Center. He and 
     President Wayne Andrews of Morehead State University met with 
     U.S. Representative Hal Rogers to discuss the problem of 
     obesity in young people. The Congressman secured a year's 
     grant to encourage Martin County kids to be more active and 
     to select healthy food. Although the program is based at the 
     Collier Community Center, the health directors work through 
     the local school system. One year, Jim bought pedometers for 
     all the kids in 6th grade! Started in Martin, the program 
     will progress into other counties, with Lawrence County the 
     next possible choice. ``Martin County on the Move'' has been 
     hugely successful in creating new health and wellness 
     initiatives in the community.
       Jim's personal involvement throughout Inez is evident by 
     his leadership as chairman of the Martin County Economic 
     Development Board, which has oversight of the new Business 
     Center. The Martin County Board of Education and the office 
     of the Kentucky Health & Human Services were both in 
     buildings that were falling apart around them. Now an open, 
     light-filled, modern building with walls filled with art and 
     the very best in technology stands as a beacon of progress in 
     the community. It is home to both organizations and has 
     additional leasable space as well. Built with coal severance 
     tax money and the support of Judge Kelly Callaham, the county 
     is allowed to keep the revenue to maintain the facility. 
     Christi Brown, executive director of the Martin County 
     Economic Development Authority, spearheaded development of 
     the Business Center and presently manages the Center.
       The Martin County Historical Society was also built on 
     property Jim and Linda Booth donated. The Historical Society 
     has a small privately owned gift shop, located on the first 
     floor of an adjoining building, and the rent helps with 
     operating expenses of the Society. Mike Duncan, president of 
     Inez Deposit Bank, allows students from their summer intern 
     program to volunteer at the Society. The students work at the 
     bank, participate in cultural programs, hear business 
     speakers (including Jim Booth), and work on their own family 
     trees at the Historical Society.
       Jim transitions seamlessly from recalling the past to 
     looking toward the future. ``County Judge/Executive Kelly 
     Callaham wants to build a new courthouse and continue to 
     utilize the existing facility as a redesigned cultural 
     center. We're also looking at doing some redevelopment on the 
     east side of Inez's Main Street. We want to remodel or 
     replace most of the buildings, and we hope to make retail 
     space downstairs and office or living quarters upstairs. 
     We're working with the Appalachian Regional Commission to 
     develop a plan.''
       It's safe to say that whatever Jim puts his efforts into 
     will exceed expectations, will definitely be something to 
     benefit both Martin County and southeastern Kentucky, and 
     will be a source of pride and inspiration.
       It's plain to see that Jim Booth is dedicated to making 
     things happen in Martin County, buy why does he put such 
     effort and heart into every project?
       ``This is home,'' he says. ``Linda and I decided to stay 
     here; build here and improve our community for the next 
     generation.'' That they have done, and they are to be 
     commended for their efforts.

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