Saving Small Town U.S.A, a Small Mountain Lifestyle in Jeopardy
It all began the day I got a call from Lynch Kentucky City Council President, Anne Carr. My phone rang and a woman’s voice said,
“Mr. Close, I understand that you are the IRS Hitman and you know how to get things done. The city which I represent is in trouble with The IRS, and we need your help.”
The city of Lynch Kentucky owed the IRS nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Our current economic recession created budget shortfalls. The mayor and members of Lynch Kentucky’s City Council couldn’t afford to pay the IRS the outlandish fees they demanded. There was fear that the IRS would seize City Hall. The future of Lynch Kentucky was at stake. I hung up the phone and headed home to pack.
My road trip to the city of Lynch Kentucky truly mirrored the American Spirit. I wish it could have been open roads and endless possibilities, but this was a different type of journey. This was a rescue mission for Lynch Kentucky, a coal-mining town that was at the IRS’s mercy.
The Kentucky Coal Heritage
The story of Lynch Kentucky is the story of the American Dream. In 1917 the United States Coal & Coke Company purchased 40,000 acres in the Appalachian Mountain Range. The Lynch community would become the world’s largest coal camp, with a population that peaked at 10,000 people.
The town was named after Thomas Lynch, the then Chief Executive Officer of the United States Coal & Coke company. In the early days the town was a mix of nationalities, including Italian, Czech, English, Welsh, Irish, Scottish, and Polish.
They all came together, united by the hope of a brighter future for themselves and their families.
Lynch Kentucky and United States Coal & Coke would hit world records for building the largest coal tipple (with a capacity of 15,000 tons) and for coal production in a single nine hour shift. This was achieved when miners operating 40 shortwall cutting machines produced 12,820 tons of coal and filled 256 railcars. During 1919, one million tons of coal were mined at Lynch. The now famous Lynch Kentucky tourist attraction “Mine 31″ once produced 500 tons of coal per hour. Coal mining operations continued being successful in Lynch Kentucky for 60 years.
The Rolling Hills of Lynch Kentucky
Imagine emerald rolling hills fading into the distance, winding trails through a scenic tree-lined landscape. This is Lynch Kentucky. It’s located along Highway 160, just a few miles south of Kingdom Come State Park. Nearby is the highest point in Kentucky; towering Black Mountain, 4,139 feet.
The mountain air is crisp and refreshing, the townspeople are friendly and inviting. They are proud of their beautiful city and its rich history. Lynch holds a Grand Reunion Celebration the summer of every year, keeping their town spirit alive. It’s the perfect picture of a small town. Lynch Kentucky’s ample resources and landscapes don’t merely surround its citizens; Lynch Kentucky is in their blood.
Buying Time Against the IRSBefore I arrived, the Lynch Kentucky’s City Council was desperately trying to borrow money from lenders which they couldn’t pay back, placing a bigger burden on the small town. I could not allow the IRS to bankrupt and destroy Lynch. It was time to roll up my sleeves and protect a way of life that had thrived in the hills of Kentucky for decades.
I went straight to work, collaborating with the Mayor and the Board of Finances to keep the IRS Division Chief and Revenue Officer out of Lynch. Next, I had long conversations with high level IRS officials.
If anyone gave me excuses, I said plainly, “Get me your supervisor.” It didn’t matter what it took, I would do everything necessary to get the job done. I got the city of Lynch Kentucky into a Stay of Collections, which halted all IRS seizures, levies, and collection actions temporarily. This bought us the valuable time we needed to reverse the damage caused by the IRS.
The Hitman Saves a CityI started at the top. Working like a detective I investigated all documentation, looking for any loophole that could save this town. If the IRS could have it their way, they would seize the entire town. Historic monuments and unoccupied buildings would not be safe from the IRS’s clutches.
Lynch Kentucky was low in funds, but rich in resources. Fire trucks, police cars, even waste removal equipment; all of it is fair game when a city owes the IRS. Nothing was safe. I had to work fast. Things got worse when the IRS enacted a Tax Lien as I was ready to negotiate a deal. The Tax Lien prevented City Council from selling or transferring city property. With the Tax Lien Lynch Kentucky practically belonged to the IRS, but we didn’t give up.
In the end, I reached an agreement that stopped IRS collection actions, allowing Lynch to function and support its people and giving them time to rebuild. The town’s assets were safe from seizures, and the crowning jewel of Lynch Kentucky, “Mine 31″ would remain in operation. Police cars and fire trucks would not be seized; streets and homes were safe again for the citizens of Lynch. The town was saved.
Keeping Hope Alive: Just Another Day for the Hitman
Lynch Kentucky was spared annihilation at the hands of the IRS and the citizens were triumphant. Small Town had won against Big Government. As I was leaving town, I was granted a surprise at the home of City Council Member, Carl Shoupe. His tiny home was every small town American dream: cozy and filled with relics and photos of the past. Carl disappeared into his pantry and returned with two mason jars of his prized wild berry jam. He smiled and handed them over to me.
In Carl’s eyes was the life blood of Lynch Kentucky. I was proud to have made a difference in his life, and I was a better man for the difference he made in mine. I’ve done lots of good to help American citizens since I left the IRS behind, but nothing has compared to saving a historic town, its people, and their way of life.