Jason Belcher appointed director of Big Sandy Heritage Center Museum
The new executive director of the Big Sandy Heritage Center Museum Board is retired U.S. Air Force Major Jason Belcher. Museum Board Chairman Brad Slone announced that Belcher, a Pike County native, was appointed following a nationwide search conducted in September and October last year.
A trained historian, Belcher earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Kentucky as well as a Master of Science in International Relations from Troy State University. In the past two years, he published two full-length books on history: Versatile Nation: How America’s Knack for Reinventing Itself Will Make Life Better after 2020, and Invasion Z: Russia’s Onslaught, Ukraine’s Heroic Resistance, and the Brink of World War III.
The son of Roger and Sheila Belcher of Hidden Valley, he is a 1992 graduate of Millard High School, where he was a member of the academic team and band.
After earning his bachelor’s degree, Belcher served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force, promoted to the rank of Major while deployed to Iraq in 2006. His military service awards include the Iraq Campaign Medal; U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Service Medal with Gold Border; Global War on Terrorism Medal; U.S. Air Force Commendation Medal, Oak Leaf Cluster; National Defense Medal; Company Grade Officer of the Year, 349th RCS, 2004 and 2005; and Company Grade Officer of the Quarter, 964th AACS, 2001.
Honorably discharged in 2007, Belcher served four years as Lead Analyst, Science Applications International Corporation, providing intelligence analysis to coalition partners in Afghanistan for the civilian contractor. He also served a stint as senior intelligence analyst with Global Crisis Management, a contractor for Target corporate headquarters, protecting Target’s $65 billion in assets and 350,000 personnel worldwide from security threats, including organized retail crime, political unrest, and terrorism.
Belcher and his wife, Elaine, also an Air Force veteran, settled in Eastern Kentucky in 2012, with their sons, Sam and Ian. In 2012-2013, Belcher implemented and managed a federal grant at the University of Pikeville which focused on economic development research for the central Appalachian region. During this time, he also graduated from Leadership East Kentucky.
As a writer and project manager Belcher has authored, edited, and published dozens of articles and reports, including nationally published news accounts for the Huffington Post and contributions to the Lexington Herald-Leader. He hosts a weekly current events podcast, Kentucky Caliber, and is a regular guest on Talk Radio 590 AM, the Jack Pattie Show, which originates in Lexington. He is also the national podcast host for VFRL, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Veterans for Responsible Leadership, soon to be included in a national media platform. In June 2020, he and his wife formed VR Heroes, a web-based virtual reality equipment rental company.
“To paraphrase the National Standards for History,” Belcher said, “our history gives us a common memory of where we came from, where we have been, what our core values are, and what decisions in the past account for our present circumstances. The Big Sandy Heritage Center Museum is a treasure, a place where we learn about the people who impacted life in the Big Sandy Valley, particularly Pike County.”
Museum holdings include the most extensive Hatfield-McCoy collection anywhere, a room dedicated to the Eastern Kentucky coal industry, and a significant number of artifacts and documents from the Civil War era, particularly ones pertaining to the battles and skirmishes that occurred in Pike and Floyd counties.
Located on the fourth floor of the Hall of Justice, behind the Pike County Courthouse, the Museum’s winter operating hours are as follows:
Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday – Closed; groups accommodated by appointment Student field trips, special needs patrons, and tour groups can schedule visits online at https://www.facebook.com/pikekymuseum or by calling 606-766-1025.
The Big Sandy Heritage Center Museum opened in 2002 as a federally-recognized nonprofit corporation – 501(c)(3) – funded by the Pikeville City Commission, the Pike County Fiscal Court, donations, grants, and gift shop revenue. The original founders include Randall Osborne, David Deskins, Ed and Connie Maddox, Hugh B. Hall, Cornelius Carroll, and Bill Blackburn.
The Museum Board consists of nine members, three each appointed by the Pikeville City Commission and the Pike County Fiscal Court, one by the University of Pikeville, and one each appointed by city and county tourism agencies. Current members are Brad Slone, City of Pikeville Deputy City Manager of Operations, chairman; Reed Potter, Senior Wealth Manager, Raymond James Financial Services, vice-chairman; Elisha Taylor, Archivist and Reference Librarian, Frank M. Allara Library, University of Pikeville, secretary; Kathy Atkins, City of Pikeville Director of Grants; Sara George, retired; Jordan Gibson, President and CEO, Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; Kevin Hall, historian; Randall Osborne, historian; and Tony Tackett, Executive Director, Pike County Tourism.
Samuel Hatcher serves as treasurer and assistant to the director. An announcement concerning the appointment of a museum curator is expected soon.
PHOTO CAPTION: Executive Director Jason Belcher, left, and Sam Hatcher, assistant to the director, review artifacts from the Hatfield-McCoy Collection at the Big Sandy Heritage Center Museum. Belcher's appointment to head the organization was announced by Brad Slone, board chairman.
172 Division Street • Pikeville, Kentucky 41501
Fourth Floor, Hall of Justice, behind Pike County Courthouse