Area equality group raises money for billboard in Estill County

Tuesday, a new billboard was put up on highway 52 near the Estill/Madison county lines

ESTILL COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – There’s no hate in this holler. That message can be found on a billboard in Estill County right before you cross into Madison County on highway 52.

“We’re country folk. We’re from the mountains. Hospitality’s in our blood. Making sure people are loved and supported, that’s our goal,” said Jessica Stevens, a member of the Estill Countians For Equality group.

The billboard was put up Tuesday and was completely funded by people in the community, organized by the group “Estill Countians for Equality!”

“We all came together and said ‘you know what? This is important to show that love and support.’ And it started as an idea two weeks ago and it’s already up,” said Stevens.

So far, Stevens, who helped design the billboard, along with choosing the words inspired by area artist Lacy Hale, says the group has raised enough money through a GoFundMe fundraiser to keep the billboard up for six months. She says she hopes the group can raise enough to keep it up for a year.

Stevens says it’s a way to support everyone in the community.

“Here, you can look around and think, maybe everyone is similar, and we wouldn’t think about that but intersectionality means a bunch of different things, whether that’s gender, race, sexuality, religious affiliation, and we want to support literally all people,” said Stevens.

The billboard comes just under a month after West Irvine Elementary Schools music teacher Tyler Clay Morgan resigned after backlash to a photo on social media of a whiteboard message he put up in his classroom saying “You are free to be yourself with me. You matter!”

Stevens says that’s part of the reason the group decided to come together to put the billboard up, but that the billboard is inclusive to everyone in the community, not just one group.

“This is a group of citizens who care. These are all our friends and neighbors. This is not some outside interest, this is not funded by a lobbyist or some government organization or anything. These are real people that just care about our home,” said Stevens.

She says there have been some negative comments, but also an outpouring of support.

“I think a lot of the negative comments we see are from confusion or people are just like, ‘I don’t understand why we need to be talking about this.’ Education is really important, it helps us be better neighbors, friends, family members,” said Stevens.

Stevens says she hopes the group can do more in the community.

“The billboard is great, but we want to do more than that, we want to really help people.”

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