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Sam Terry Commentary: The challenge of time and tides


 

The challenge of time and tides
By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
December 29, 2016

Another year is about to come to an end and as always, we have mixed feelings about it.  Optimists looking forward to 2017 are certain it will be a great year for a variety of reasons.  On the other hand, many will likely stay up past Midnight this weekend to make sure 2016 goes away. 

The celebration of the New Year is perhaps one of the unique holidays on the calendar.  It has no person associated with it, no religious or liturgical context, nor a social or civic agenda.  The only way culture is involved is in how we choose to mark the passage from one year to another at the stroke of Midnight on December 31. 

What New Year’s Day marks is simply the passage of time, another mark in the tally, a flip of a page, a click on life’s odometer, and for some, a short-lived bit of inspiration to do something meaningful or stop doing something that’s negative or harmful.  We like to pretend that time is on our side and something we can control.  Geoffrey Chaucer reminded us that time and tide wait for no man.  When Chaucer wrote that, “tide” referred to the passing of the seasons and not the rising and falling of the sea, which we can’t control either.  

We haven’t the ability to go back and change the past.  What we have are memories of people, events, accomplishments, and losses that made an impact on us, for good or bad.  They are the very things that made 2016 seem like a good year for some and a terrible one for others.  The end of a year is a good time break the harmful patterns, release grudges, and forgive.  While we might forgive, forgetting isn’t necessarily a wise idea because those experiences are part of our life and they shape us just as much as the good things that happen.

What a new year gives us is a fresh start, a clean slate, a chance to refocus to make the most of the time we have.  Refocusing reminds us of what’s important but we must make an effort to do those things.    Lots of our friends and relatives didn’t make it through 2016.  While some of them anticipated taking their final bow this year, others sadly put off things they wanted to do and never did them.  No one ever came to the end of life wishing they’d spent more time at work or wasting time and energies on things that simply don’t matter in the big picture of life.

What we can focus on in the coming 12 months is making the most of our lives and our communities.  You can be sure 2017 will bring changes, and some will be challenging and uncomfortable, but they’re a necessary part of life.  Make plans, set goals, be determined, live deliberately.  Bear in mind that it’s never too soon to do a kindness because you never know how soon it will be too late.

Here’s to a new year and another chance to get it right.




Citizens in the know
Or, Can you pass the U.S. Citizenship test?

By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.

The naturalization ceremony held last week at Mammoth Cave National Park was a unique and memorable event.  Not only was it heartwarming to hear those about to take the oath of allegiance to our country tell their stories about coming to America and what it meant to them.  One of the most impressive aspects of the experience was realizing that the 33 newly-sworn citizens knew so much about our country, its history, and how our government works.

The sad reality came when comparing the absolute joy of the new citizens speaking with pride and hope about America to many native born citizens who express little hope in our country  and who can tell you very little about our nation’s history and government.  One of the differences in the people who chose to be citizens is the requirement that they study and learn about their adopted country.  They even pass an oral examination – 10 random questions chosen from 100 – proving what they know about America and how it works.

Of course, our children are exposed to American civics in school and most of us had lessons on the topic when we were in school.  However, if you’ve been around a few decades and you find yourself regurgitating information off the top of your head to the amazement of young people, you’re apt to hear one of them ask, “How is it that you know all of these things?”  Those of us who grew up before the advent of a hand-held device able to access unimaginable amounts information lament what younger generations may not know. 

Most of us didn’t receive our public education using the philosophy of “don’t memorize anything you can look up.”  We fret over students who can’t write or read cursive writing or sign their name on legal documents.  We are bothered by store clerks who can’t make change for cash transactions without the aid of a calculating device.  We are discouraged when we see college graduates incorrectly refer to the Kentucky Legislature as Congress.  We are shocked when we see interviews with students who don’t know what the Cold War was about, the name of the Vice President, or the three branches of government much less why they are equal. 

In our country there’s a contentious debate about immigration, particularly the illegal kind.  If you spend a few moments speaking with immigrants who’ve chosen to become a naturalized citizen of this country, you’re undoubtedly impressed by the amount of knowledge they can share about our country. Sadly, much of that same knowledge couldn’t be recalled by the average native born American citizen. 

It’s a shocking realization that many new citizens have greater working knowledge about how our country works than some of our lifelong neighbors.  It’s sad to realize that naturalized citizens eagerly await the moment they can cast a ballot as a citizen, yet our native citizens can’t be persuaded to even cast a ballot.  In this turbulent election year, perhaps one of America’s goals should be building better citizens who are instilled with passion for our country and an understanding of how our government works.

Can you pass a U.S. Citizenship Test?

Immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship study American history and civics to become knowledgeable about our country.  The United States Citizenship & Immigration Services uses a 100-question test from which candidates for citizenship are asked 10 random questions. In order to pass, the candidate must answer at least 6 of the 10 questions correctly. Here are sample questions drawn from a USCIS practice test.

1. What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?
2. Who is the Chief Justice of the United States now?
3. What is the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives now?
4. How many amendments does the Constitution have? 
5. During the Cold War, what was the main concern of the United States?
6. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
7. Why does the flag have 13 stripes?
8. What are two Cabinet-level positions?
9. Name two national U.S. holidays.
10. What did Susan B. Anthony do?
11. If both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve, who becomes President?
12. What does the Constitution do?
13. Why do some states have more Representatives than other states?
14. Who did the United States fight in World War II?
15. Who signs bills to become laws?
16. What do we show loyalty to when we say the Pledge of Allegiance?
17. How many justices are on the Supreme Court?
18. Who was President during the Great Depression and World War II?
19. Who vetoes bills?
20. What did the Declaration of Independence do?



Time for Bevin to focus on BRADD

By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
June 30, 2016

While Governor Matt Bevin is in the process of putting various tax-payer funded entities under the magnifying glass, he needs to turn his focus to South-Central Kentucky, particularly the Barren River Area Development District.  For quite some time the pages of our newspapers and others around the state have shared news of dubious actions or inaction by BRADD.  It seems to be a good time for Gov. Bevin to cause another shake-up and take over the agency as he did with its counterpart in the Blue Grass region.

The unrest at the BRADD has gone on for several years as evidenced by news reports and off-the-record conversations with those directly involved.  What began in 1967 as an effort to encourage cooperation among yoked counties to effectively use program funds has simply lost its way amid power struggles and questionable practices while at times it’s appeared that no one is paying attention.

It hasn’t always been that way.  From the beginning, BRADD has been a force in getting good things done in Allen, Barren, Butler, Edmonson, Hart, Logan, Metcalfe, Monroe, Simpson, and Warren Counties.  With all the good BRADD and the other ADDs have accomplished over nearly 50 years, some of the agencies have flourished in helping the people and communities of Kentucky.  Others, unfortunately, have seemingly spiraled out of control.

For quite some time now Warren County and the City of Bowling Green have withheld their dues to BRADD in a struggle over economic and workforce development issues.  Three other counties – Allen, Logan, and Simpson - are no longer payer their dues to BRADD either.  Currently those four counties don’t contribute their part but they still receive all of the services offered to the dues-paying counties. Obviously, something is wrong.

Late in his administration, former Gov. Steve Beshear was aware of dysfunction within BRADD and called together the leaders of the various counties to strongly encourage them to reunite.  The result was a lack-luster resolution passed by some of the respective fiscal courts to support BRADD.  Considering that nearly half of the ten counties are not paying dues, it’s apparent that strategy amounted to lip service.

Another signal of unrest is the announcement last week that Barren County Judge / Executive Micheal Hale is resigning as chairman of the Barren River Located Elected Officials group effective July 31.  Barren County’s Fiscal Court Clerk, Sherry Jones, has resigned as the group’s secretary. One gets the feeling that both Hale and Jones have had enough of the public and behind the scenes dysfunction of the agency.

Still looming like a dark cloud over BRADD is the order to repay around $87,000 in grant money it improperly paid as staff bonuses, a practice that’s against Kentucky law.  So far, BRADD has refused to repay the money to the Kentucky Department of Aging and Independent Living (DAIL), maintaining they were correct to give compensation “adjustments” to some of BRADD’s 51 employees.  That amounts to a few thousand nourishing meals that could have been served to Kentuckians in need.

The most recent mind-boggling shenanigans at BRADD involve the announcement days ago that South-Central Kentucky would be losing $558,428.58 in workforce development funds because BRADD had not determined how to spend the money for programs for two years.  Kentucky’s Workforce Commissioner Beth Kuhn was adamant that the money could not be rolled over and if the money wasn’t used by June 30, it would be recaptured by the state.  There were various excuses about the money needing to be spent in very specific ways and the difficulty of determining how to spend the money.  Late last week, BRADD and the South Central Kentucky Workforce Development Board announced that they would get to keep the money for future use after all.  At a time when Kentuckians are focused on job creation, job retention, and workforce development, it’s a sad situation when those in charge of such tasks can’t determine a plan to spend money to benefit people.

State Rep. Jim DeCesare of Bowling Green has called for Gov. Bevin to take over BRADD just as he recently did with BGADD.  There is no question that there are big issues within this agency and others connected to it.  DeCesare is correct.  It’s time for an intervention on behalf of the tax-payers.




Sunlight – the best disinfectant

By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
Kentuckians love to sing about the sun shining brightly in our old Kentucky home, and this Sunday marks the 40th anniversary of a different way in which sunlight benefits all Kentuckians.  The Kentucky Open Records Act may sound like a dull subject, but to the media and to every citizen, it is one of the most important laws passed in modern times.

Prior to June 19, 1976, not unlike today, there was great distrust of government and what government bodies were doing out of the public eye.  Forty years ago local governments could hide their spending and when mistakes were made they could be easily hidden from the public’s knowledge.  The law was a follow up to the Open Meetings Act of 1974 that required elected and appointed officials to have open meetings and specified the circumstances when such groups could meeting out of the public eye.

Now more than four decades later, the law has withstood the test of time.  Kentuckians have the assurance that they can know what their government is doing, from the state level down to the smallest town council or the thousands of boards and commissions that deal with taxpayer money.

The Open Records Act clearly states the General Assembly’s intent that, “a free and open examination of public records is in the public interest,” and “even though such examination may cause inconvenience or embarrassment to public officials or others.”  Thanks to these two laws, the average citizen - as well as the press - can see what state and local government is doing. 

Of course, that’s the “perfect world” scenario.  It doesn’t always work that way in real life.  In the counties comprising the Jobe Publishing service area, we see all too frequently that officials are willing to turn a blind eye to the law and do things as they wish.  Hardly a month passes that in one or more communities there are examples of officials – from fiscal courts to city councils to school boards to quasi-government agencies – that are willing to skirt these laws. 

Elected officials and citizen-appointees provide an important service to our communities as part of our form of government.  They are well-intentioned, good-hearted, giving people.  They spend taxpayer dollars.  They make decisions that affect everyone who resides in their communities.  Unfortunately, they also sometimes have the attitude that they should conduct the people’s business in private.

Kentucky’s Open Meetings Act provides thirteen specific situations in which a body may go into closed session.  They generally deal with personnel, litigation, and property transactions in which the value of the property might be affected if discussed in open session.  The rules of the Open Meetings Act are not complicated and there’s no excuse for anyone – citizen-appointees, elected officials, and their paid staff – to not understand how they must operate.  These are not the media’s rules, but they are state law and not following them is illegal.

In recent weeks we’ve observed multiple instances in which bodies inappropriately went into closed session without fully stating, as required by the Open Meetings Act, the specific Kentucky Revised Statute allowing the closed session and what they will be discussing in that closed session.  We’ve documented cases in which bodies inappropriately took votes behind closed doors and admitted discussing subjects other than the one they announced prior to the session.  We’ve observed bodies making motions to move into a closed session because they didn’t want the public to know their practices.  After objection, that body simply changed the subject and left the questions unanswered.  We’ve observed property transactions handled inappropriately and decisions made behind closed doors that affect thousands of people who had no knowledge of the decisions being made. 

We’re also aware of instances in which local officials were reluctant to open their books and let citizens, who have every right as guaranteed by law, to see how their taxpayer dollars are being spent.  Further, some officials have rolled a stumbling block in the way of both the media and individuals by making it difficult to obtain copies of records.  Thankfully, because of the Open Records Act which gives the Kentucky Attorney General the authority of law, those records were obtained.

In the six counties served by Jobe Publishing, there are more than 225 groups that fall under the jurisdiction of the Open Meetings Act and the Open Records Act.  It is essential that every member of these groups have appropriate training about Open Meetings and Open Records laws.  Circumventing the law is not acceptable and ignorance of the law is no excuse. 

Earlier this month marked the 100th anniversary of Louisville native Louis Brandeis being sworn in as a Justice on the United States Supreme Court.  One of the most brilliant legal minds of the 20th century, Brandeis wrote, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” 

Fortunately, these “sunshine laws” give the media and the average Kentuckian some leverage to insist on accountability and transparency from their government.  Shining light on the sometimes shadowy government is, indeed, a good thing.  




So, you’re graduating

By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
Graduation 2016


This week you join thousands of other Kentucky students in donning graduation robes and mortarboards to be part of the annual rite of passage known as high school graduation.  Just as in years past, there will be tears of joy and sighs of relief from parents and grandparents as they watch you move from one phase of life into young adulthood.

There will be commencement speeches filled with glowing remarks about your accomplishments over the past twelve or so years.  There will be predictions of incredible success that we hope will become reality.  There will be mortarboards tossed into the air in celebration.

And then reality begins.  Those unique headpieces cast skyward will all do the same thing:  they will stop in mid-air and, just like the life that is before you, they will return to the earth and land in unexpected places.  We like to think we know where our lives will take us but sometimes life has other ideas.  We end up in very different places and circumstances than we imagined while that cap was soaring upward.

Most of you have been loved and cared for by your family, friends, teachers, and others.  They’ve held you, kissed your boo-boos, wiped your mouth and your bottom, taught you, coached you, counseled you, driven you, fed you, clothed you, worked through every phase of your ever-changing maturity, and encouraged you.  You’ve been the apple of their eye and the reason they smile when you walk into a room.  You are their pride and joy.

We’ve got a lot of pride in you, too.  We’ve been there and watched you.  Your picture was probably in this newspaper as we covered your academic achievements, your ballgames, your plays, your recitals, your science fairs, and more.  Now that you’re graduating, we look forward to seeing what you do with your life and the paths you’ll take as you embark on a new journey.

The reality that begins this week is that your life is probably going to be different than you imagined.  Whether you are entering the workforce or continuing your education, you will likely find your boss, your new co-workers, and your college professors will treat you differently than what you’ve experienced so far. 

Without a doubt, you and your classmates were told that you are unique, that you are special, that you will achieve great things.  You were possibly told that you are “one in a million.”  Have you considered that if that statement is true, and with 6.8 billion people on earth, there are almost 7,000 people just like you?  If there are nearly 7,000 special people identical to you, the magnitude of your specialness diminishes rather quickly.  That’s a reality of life.

It’s humbling to realize that even with all of your years of education and nurturing, your education is not finished – it’s just entering a new phase.  You’ll likely discover how little you really know.  You’ll discover, in time, that your mentors gave you some good advice along the way even if you chose to ignore it.  You’ll realize that you will make mistakes, you will be disappointed, your heart will be broken, you’ll be cut down when you think you’ve got everything going for you.  You will also learn that it’s okay because you will learn from those experiences and you will become a more authentic person.

As you move through life, you’ll discover that you must pursue life with determination and enthusiasm.  Our country was founded on the principle that we are guaranteed the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  It’s important to remember that you must pursue something rather than wait for it to come to you.  Remember to get up and get busy – this world of ours needs you and the best you can give to make it better.

You will learn that there are more important reasons for doing something than because “it will look good on your resume.”  You will learn that you gain more by doing things that benefit our society and others than you will by selfishly wondering “what do I get out of this?”  You will learn that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason and you should use them in that proportion.  You will learn that there’s nothing better than hard work, passionate play, loyalty, and enthusiasm; you will learn the value of those traits in others.  You’ll learn the rewards of being as interested in others’ success as your own.  You will realize that your education never ends, so embrace it daily.

Congratulations.  Good luck.  Go make extraordinary lives for yourself and others.  We’re counting on you.



Higher Education is not workforce development

By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
April 14, 2016

Every few years there is a new phenomenon that bedazzles some of the public but almost always grabs the attention of politicians.  At the moment, it is workforce development.  It’s mentioned everywhere from local government and industrial recruitment meetings, legislative committee hearings, state press conferences, education think tanks to political stump speeches.  More than a few people whose voices are in the news frequently have adopted the misguided notion that education, especially higher education, exists to serve industry.  It does not.

Quite a few political figures seem to think that a solid liberal arts education isn’t worth much.  Perhaps some don’t realize the “liberal” in “liberal arts” has nothing to do with politics. 

Last week, Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton found herself in the middle of an uproar when she told the editorial board of Eastern Kentucky University’s student newspaper that she wouldn’t recommend studying history but instead would focus on a major than would land a job.  She also suggested that a college education was “a privilege” and “not a right.”  Earlier this year, Gov. Matt Bevin didn’t seem to think students of French Literature were going to be very successful and shouldn’t be getting a college education from a school receiving taxpayer support.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wanted to remove “search for truth” and “improve the human condition” from the University of Wisconsin’s mission statement and replace them with “meet the state’s workforce needs.”  Former presidential candidate Jeb Bush suggested that a liberal arts education was good but those graduates would be working at Chick-fil-A.  The examples are plentiful.

Somewhere along the way, many people have espoused the idea that a worthwhile college education would result in a guaranteed job.  They seem to think that America’s businesses don’t need employees with a broad based education but rather a specialized degree that immediately leads to a job.

The reality is that those highly specialized degrees leading to jobs sometimes become obsolete in our rapidly changing world.  The other reality is that the liberal arts graduate has been trained to think creatively – they’re the people who solve problems and excel in communicating with others – two areas where we need help.  Some business leaders have suggested that the difference is a person who knows how to do things will always have a job, but it’s the person who knows why who will be their boss. 

Education is not merely to answer industry’s call for workers as some would have us believe.  John McCardell, the University of the South’s vice chancellor, notes that a liberal arts education builds resilience and the ability to lead a purposeful life.  A broad education provides students with more than particular skills or knowledge for the sole purpose of getting a job.  Students whose education is so specialized stand a good chance of becoming obsolete in what they can offer an employer when the need for their job no longer exists.

These notions are found in our public K-12 schools as well.  Teachers are frustrated that so much of what they must teach is geared toward students being able to pass a standardized test.  We’ve all heard the phrase “teaching to the test.”  It’s the very thing that smothers creativity, resourcefulness, and curiosity but it will produce students who can pass a standardized test and still know little about the subject nor have the ability to apply it to their lives or work.

There is nothing wrong with workforce development programs.  Yes, we need well-trained technicians but we also need people who understand history, the languages of the world whether they are dead or alive, the arts, psychology, sociology, anthropology, who think in terms of long-range rather than short-sighted.  We need well-rounded citizens who can offer solutions for our state and our nation.  Education is about enriching lives and reaching higher. 

Today’s economy is global and it’s driven by creativity, imagination, and innovation – the very things that a liberal arts education provides. One of the greatest minds of the 20th century, Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Computer, said, “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.”

We need to invest in public education that embraces the whole so that we will be producing the leading innovators of the 21st century, not just training the workers who implement other people’s ideas.  


Realigning Higher Education’s priorities
By Sam Terry
March 30, 2016

For weeks, news from the Kentucky General Assembly and Kentucky’s public universities has focused on a battle for bucks being waged between Gov. Matt Bevin and the Kentucky House of Representatives.  It’s hard to ignore the continually rising costs of obtaining a college education.  It’s also hard to ignore the massive amounts of money being raised by the universities for special projects and endowments.  Without a doubt, Kentuckians want to see students have high-quality, effective educational opportunities available to them, but they should also have an awareness of how our public colleges are spending their resources. 

Kentucky’s public institutions of higher learning don’t always make wise choices in how to spend money, in fact they sometimes spend it foolishly as highlighted by former Kentucky legislator Bob Heleringer last week in his opinion piece in the Courier-Journal.  Personal Services Contracts (PSCs) between state agencies with purported experts, consultants, lawyers, physicians, and those offering a variety of services and products, comes to more than $3.4 billion – yes, that’s billion with a “b.”  Some of those contracts are actually needed and others most likely enrich the individuals offering a service in exchange for money that, in part, comes from taxpayers’ wallets.

Here are a few examples:

  • A couple of years ago Western Kentucky University spent $285,000 for a company to manage its phonathon, a fundraising effort that once was staffed by student volunteers and faculty.  Last year the school paid $250,000 for the same service but Northern Kentucky University spent over $300,000 with the same firm for its efforts. 
  • Morehead State University spent $155,050 for a company to consult them on “a comprehensive wayfinding project” for the campus.  In case you were wondering, wayfinding is a fancy term for directional signs.  There must be lots of lost people on campus because the school is spending another $128,299 this year for the same purpose.
  • Eastern Kentucky University paid $160,000 to gain “expert guidance in developing a new brand strategy” that will give the school a “thematic, messaging, and visual symbology foundation.”
  • The University of Kentucky sought to enter into four $100,000 contracts with companies to “provide web development services consistent with the school’s graphics and web standards.”  Ironically, the school withdrew the plans after Sen. Max Wise, the co-chairman of the Government Contract Review Committee, asked for the documents to be pulled for his committee’s review.
  • During last fall’s football season, WKU paid $33,000 to “security services” which escorted visiting football teams from the Kentucky state line to the campus and then back following the game. 
  • The University of Louisville spent more than $1.65 million with consultants for “executive recruitment” and another $246,700 for “event coordination.”

Good leadership for our public universities is essential but it doesn’t come without a price.  For example, UK’s president, Eli Capiluto, earned a base salary of $535,500 per year but he also earned $152,500 in bonuses.  U of L president James Ramsey f L Foundation which holds about $1.1 billion.  By comparison, WKU’s leader, Gary Ransdell, seems to be took in $1,682,176 in a year between his base salary and extra compensation from the nonprofit U o a bargain earning $427,824 per year.

Such figures seem rather gargantuan to the students and their families who are struggling to pay continually increasing tuition costs.  For example, this semester an in-state WKU student taking only 12 hours (4 classes) will need to find around $4,700 for tuition; that student also needs a place to stay, food to eat, and transportation.  It’s no wonder Kentucky students get upset when they hear about state officials’ plans to cut funding to their chosen schools.  They know the reality – the regents who direct each school will pass along the need for revenue to the students rather than find ways to be more efficient in spending their resources.

By comparison, it’s easy to question the sincerity of the various spokesmen in bemoaning cuts to higher education.  Ramsey said the loss of funds to U of L “would take a toll that everybody would feel.”  Ransdell declared that he was devastated by the thoughts of funding cuts and said “20-30 programs would be totally eliminated” if the cuts were enacted; he didn’t specify which programs would be eliminated.  Capiluto fell in line with predicted tuition increases and said the cuts would be challenging.  EKU’s Michael Benson said cuts in state funding would cause his institution to look for ways to “improve efficiencies and reduce expenses.” 

Most Kentuckians looks for ways to “improve efficiencies and reduce expenses” each day in their homes and businesses – it’s simply a part of how we must live these days.  Perhaps it’s time Kentucky’s universities realign their priorities to do the same.


earned $152,500 in
onuses. U of L president James Ramsey f L Foundation which holds about $
1.1 billion. By comparison,
WKU
s leader, Gary Ransdell, seems to be took in $1,682,176 in a year between his b
ase salary and extra
compensation from the nonprofit U o a bargain earning $427,824 per y
ear.
Such figures seem rather gargantuan to the students and their families who are stru
ggling to pay
continually increasing tuition costs. For example, this semester an in
-state WKU student taking only 12
hours (4 classes) will need to find around $4,700 for tuition; th
at student also needs a place to stay, food
to eat, and transportation. It
s no wonder Kentucky students get upset when they hear about state
officials
plans to cut funding to their chosen schools. They know the reality
the regents who direct
each school will pass along the need for revenue to the students rather than
find ways to be more
efficient in spending their resources.
By comparison, it
s
easy to question the sincerity of the various spokesmen in bemoaning cuts
to higher
education. Ramsey said the loss of funds to U of L
would take a toll that everybody would feel.
Ransdell declared that he was devastated by the thoughts of funding cuts and
said
20
-30 programs
would be totally eliminated
if the cuts were enacted; he didn
t specify which programs would be
eliminated. Capiluto fell in line with predicted tuition increases and
said the cuts would be challenging.
EKU
s Michael Benson said cuts in state funding would cause his institutio
n to look for ways to
improve
efficiencies and reduce expenses.
Most Kentuckians looks for ways to
improve efficiencies and reduce expenses
each day in their homes
and businesses
it
s simply a part of how we must live these days. Perhaps it
s time Kentucky
s
universities realign their priorities to do the same.

Shining the light of accountability

By Sam Terry
March 31, 2016

Transparency in state and local government is essential and yet, it is something that must be constantly monitored because of the ease in which officials and the government-related agencies they direct can make a habit of flying under the radar free from public scrutiny.  This week, the Kentucky Senate has an opportunity to insist that Kentucky’s all-too-valuable Area Development Districts are playing by the rules and letting the public know what they’re doing.

Our own Barren River ADD, made up of 10 south central Kentucky counties, helped to bring to light the very deficiencies that House Bill 438 seeks to remedy.  As has been reported throughout the region, BRADD improperly used more than $80,000 of grant money for staff bonuses, a practice that’s against Kentucky law.  Grant money is awarded for specific purposes, not merely to buoy the compensation of employees.  The Kentucky Department of Aging and Independent Living has now ordered BRADD to repay the money, and well they should.  The Bluegrass ADD so horrifically mismanaged funds that federal authorities are now investigating their practices after a scathing audit. 

Kentucky ADDs began organizing in 1967 to encourage cooperation among yoked counties to effectively use program funds.  BRADD was officially incorporated as a non-profit agency in February 1968 with the full support of Gov. Louie B. Nunn.  From the beginning, BRADD has been a force in getting good things done in Allen, Barren, Butler, Edmonson, Hart, Logan, Metcalfe, Monroe, Simpson and Warren Counties. 

With all the good BRADD and the other ADDs have accomplished over the decades, the agencies have grown and some operate more efficiently than others.  Some ADDs spend public money wisely and appropriately and report what they’re doing in clear and concise ways.  Unfortunately, some ADDs could do a better job on both issues.

House Bill 438 would make certain that each of ADDs spend the roughly $175 million in federal and state funds properly and for the benefit of the people and the communities in which they live.  The bill demands that all ADDs operate in ways that are transparent, such as making certain that ADD board members and employees don’t have conflicts of interest, and that projects are properly opened for bids in compliance with procurement laws.  Further, the legislation prohibits bonuses and assures that openings for jobs are made known to all. 

The Education & Workforce Development Cabinet and the Cabinet for Health & Family Services will be held accountable for the federal money flowing through state governments and down to the ADDs.  In other words - How much did you spend? How did you spend it? What is the benefit to Kentuckians and our communities?  It’s not too much to ask.  It’s money earned by the tax payers who then paid their taxes to federal, state and local governments, and they deserve the respect of knowing that it’s being used correctly.

Rep. Susan Westrom, the initial sponsor of the bill, got it right when she said the bill “will shine good light” on the ADDs that are doing things right and it will “bring others out of the shadows.”  It’s always a good thing for the people, when we insist on bringing government and its related agencies out of the shadows and into the light.  



Glasgow held hostage

By Sam Terry
March 24, 2016

Glasgow is being held hostage.  Some officials claim they’re making every possible effort to free our community from the situation, but evidence shows that their efforts haven’t fixed the problem.  That problem of course, is the Glasgow Police Department.

The problem has hoodooed not one, but at least three if not four, mayors.  The pages of this newspaper have been filled with stories about a parade of law enforcement and emergency responders who have been recommended for termination, some actually fired, and others who were suspended for a variety of reasons.  We’ve avoided publicizing the stories of issues that can’t be confirmed or documented, reminding ourselves that modern day witch-hunts are dangerous.

In more cases than not, the citizens have been left scratching their collective head trying to understand the logic of who gets punished for what infraction of standard operating procedures, and sometimes the law, and why others get a slap on the wrist or less.  Throughout south central Kentucky people discuss the Glasgow Police Department and it’s not a conversation that brings a smile or sense of pride.

For decades Glasgow enjoyed a reputation for being progressive and on the move, known for high standards.  Sadly, we’re now known for a city agency that seems to be plagued with problems that can’t be fixed.  That’s not to say Glasgow is the only city with similar issues because it isn’t and you only have to look around to see examples.

Glasgow isn’t being held hostage by its police department but the system in which it exists is terribly flawed and it is the captor.  It’s not so much an issue with employees who bend the rules or even break the law – after all, they are humans and they make mistakes and have lapses in good judgment like anyone else. Undoubtedly, there are Glasgow Police Officers who are very good protectors of our people and a credit to our community.  And there are others.

The system is not Glasgow’s system; it’s Kentucky’s system, which makes it a big undertaking to terminate a police officer.  We’ve seen the disciplinary hearings at city hall that are frequently reduced to a circus that further diminishes the credibility of all involved.

The problem with the system is not one that the current mayor can remedy just like his predecessors couldn’t fix it; that’s a job for the Kentucky General Assembly, which needs to understand the faulty system that dooms cities to failure.  Can you imagine the chaos in the private business sector if an employer could not terminate employees?  That is exactly what faces our police department and those responsible for it.  It is now apparent that Glasgow could switch police chiefs routinely and the problems won’t go away, they just get rearranged like books on a shelf.

There is a solution, however, if Glasgow’s elected officials are bold enough to do it.  It’s been done in other cities facing similar problems and it was successful.  Shut down the Glasgow Police Department, abolish it, and bid farewell and good wishes to all, while locking the doors for several months.  Provide for law and order in Glasgow through the Barren County Sheriff’s Office with appropriate financial support.  As the dust settles, city officials could assemble a panel of citizens to aid them in seeking input from the country’s top law enforcement experts while creating a brand new law enforcement agency for Glasgow.

To date, no other efforts have been successful.  Now is the time for bold action.  Glasgow has been held hostage long enough.





Revisiting History

By Sam Terry
March 17, 2016


The current campaign to become America’s next president has been a rough-and-tumble one and there is no sign that the rollicking ride to Oval Office will become less frenzied by the end of summer.  The election of 2016 is not unlike the one America endured in 1860, and there’s a good chance the ballot in our voting booths in November may contain an assortment of candidates.

The presidential campaign of 1860 featured outsider candidates who simply wouldn’t fade away, insider party favorites who got displaced, and brokered conventions filled with political antics. 

The Democrats of 1860 were holding fast to Jeffersonian ideals but they were fractured on issues such as slavery and trade.  The party was so fractured that they held one convention in late spring in Charleston and found that the party was in such upheaval that the delegates from the southern states withdrew and left the convention impotent.  Stephen Douglas received a majority of the delegates’ support but couldn’t gather the necessary 2/3 majority for the nomination.

The Democrats held a second party convention in Baltimore in June. At that event, Douglas got the nomination over the sitting Vice President, John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky.  Disenchanted southern delegates then nominated Breckinridge as their candidate.  Both Douglas and Breckinridge claimed to be the legitimate Democratic candidate and both appeared on the ballot.

Still a new party in 1860 – in fact, about the same age as the current Tea Party movement - the Republicans were a duke’s mixture of leftover Whigs, anti-slavery Democrats, and some anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant Know-Nothing Party survivors.  They controlled the political offices of nearly all northern states, not unlike Republicans control state politics in the modern south. 

Sen. William H. Seward was the establishment candidate and before the Republican convention even took place in Chicago he had amassed a significant number delegate votes in his favor.  To make sure he had a good crowd on hand, Seward chartered 13-car train from New York and filled it with supporters and a marching band.  On the appointed day of the vote, the cheering and music-playing throng was ready to parade into hall to overwhelm the assembly and capture the nomination for Seward.

When Seward’s virtual parade reached the convention hall they found that they had been out-foxed by Abraham Lincoln and his supporters who had printed hundreds of counterfeit tickets so that the poorly constructed convention hall nicknamed “The Wigwam” was at its 10,000 seat capacity.  To be sure their efforts were not in vain, the Illinois delegation chairman Norman Judd and Joseph Medill of the Chicago Daily Press and Tribune saw that the New Yorkers were seated off to one side, far away from swing state delegates to make it harder to broker deals.

Only 233 votes were needed to capture the Republican nomination.  On the first ballot, the totals showed Steward with 173, Lincoln with 102, and others were 50 or less.  On the second ballot, Seward remained strong with 184 votes but Lincoln picked up the votes of candidates who pulled out to rise to 181 votes.  Vermont switched its votes to Lincoln, and soon Pennsylvania increased its Lincoln votes from 4 to 48.  The third ballot revealed Lincoln with 231 votes, only two votes shy of winning the nomination.

Medill had seated himself near David Cartter, the chairman of the Ohio delegation which had supported its favorite son, Salmon P. Chase.  Momentarily, Medill whispered to Cartter that if he would swing votes to Lincoln, Chase could have anything he wanted.  The chairman sprang from his chair and changed 4 of Ohio’s votes to Lincoln.  Soon the rickety Wigwam shook with the wild stomping of feet, boisterous cheers inside and in the crowded streets outside, a cannon on the roof was fired, courthouse and church bells pealed, and boats on the Chicago River tooted in celebration.

The stage still was not set for the November election as there would be yet another candidate added to the ballot.  The Constitutional Union Party was made up of former Whigs and Know-Nothings and only a year old.  John Bell of Tennessee was nominated for president with Edward Everett of Massachusetts as his running mate.  Seeking to ignore the issue of slavery, the party appealed to Border States wishing to stay out of the fray.

Four major candidates completed the ballot for president.  Democrat Douglas campaigned actively in both the north and the south, strenuously opposing secession.  Southern Democrat Breckinridge did little campaigning, giving only one speech. Republican Lincoln’s object was to hedge against divisions among Republicans, advising party workers to “say nothing on points where it is probable we shall disagree.” Constitutional Union candidate Bell simply stayed in the middle.

Ultimately, four-fifth of the eligible voters in the United States turned out to vote.  True to his platform, Bell won the votes of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, earning 39 electoral votes.  Breckinridge carried most of the southern states including Maryland and Delaware to capture 72 electoral votes.  Douglas got 1.3 million votes, nearly 30 percent, but he won only Missouri’s 12 electoral votes.  Lincoln captured 39.9 percent of the vote but he won 180 votes in the Electoral College.  Lincoln was elected president without a majority of the popular vote.  Ohio’s Salmon P. Chase served just 3 days as U.S. Senator before Lincoln made him Secretary of the Treasury and later got him a seat on the Supreme Court.

The campaign of 1860 produced sharp contrasts in candidates and parties and it forever changed the party loyalties of Americans.  Following the election, the Democratic and Republican parties became the major parties in a mostly two-party system.

Another similarity to 1860 is that of Breckinridge and current U.S. Senator Rand Paul.  At the time, the Kentucky General Assembly elected the state’s Senators, not the people.  While Breckinridge was running for president, he maintained himself as a viable candidate for the Senate, thus running for two offices simultaneously.  In the end, he lost the presidency but the legislature elected him U.S. Senator.

Fast forward to 2016 and current party rules that state a delegate is bound to a candidate only on the first ballot and may change to another candidate on subsequent ballots.  In 1860, Seward had the larger number of delegates but not a majority and saw his delegates dwindle away in succeeding ballots.  Finally, more than a few current Republican candidates have merely “suspended” their campaigns, not officially withdrawn their candidacy, leaving them available for a resurrected campaign or a draft movement.

While many believe the 2016 candidates for president have essentially been determined, history reminds us that it’s only March and there is ample time for history to repeat itself before the November ballots are printed.




Senate Bill 192

Building better citizens
By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
March 10, 2016

In a world of continually evolving technology that gives us unimaginable amounts of information that is easily accessed through a small hand-held device, most of us lament what younger generations may not know.  If you’ve been around for a few decades and find yourself regurgitating information off the top of your head to the amazement of current students, you may hear the inquiry, “How is it that you came to know all of these things?”

Most of us didn’t receive our public education using the philosophy of “don’t memorize anything you can look up.”  We fret over students who can’t write or read cursive writing or sign their name on legal documents.  We are bothered by store clerks who can’t make change for cash transactions without the aid of a calculating device.  We are discouraged when we see college-educated young adults incorrectly refer to the Kentucky Legislature as Congress.  We are shocked when we see interviews with students who don’t know what the Cold War was about, the name of the Vice President, or the three branches of government much less why they are equal. 

We have more people in our country than ever, more students filling classrooms and recording achievements on scholastic tests that impress us.  Yet, it is troubling that our younger generations may not always be equipped with basic knowledge we or our grandparents took for granted.  American Civics, the study of the rights and duties of citizens and of how government works, is good example. 

In our country there’s a contentious debate about immigration, particularly the illegal kind.  If you spend a few moments speaking with immigrants who’ve chosen to become a naturalized citizen of this country, you’re undoubtedly impressed by the amount of knowledge they can share about our country. Sadly, much of that same knowledge couldn’t be recalled by the average native born American citizen.  It’s a sad realization that many new citizens have greater working knowledge about how our country works than some of our lifelong neighbors.  It’s even sadder to realize that naturalized citizens eagerly await the moment they can cast a ballot as a citizen, yet our native citizens can’t be persuaded to even cast a ballot.

Working its way through the legislative process is Senate Bill 192, sponsored by Sen. Jared Carpenter and Sen. Max Wise, which would require Kentucky high school graduates to pass the same civics test that immigrants must pass to gain American citizenship.  Administered by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service, the test to show adequate knowledge of our country and how its government works, contains 100 questions.  Kentucky students would be required to correctly answer at least 60 of those questions in order to receive their diploma. 

Senators Carpenter and Wise may have sponsored legislation that could have an impact on Kentuckians’ knowledge of our government, politics, and history.  Not only do we need that knowledge, we need to restore the pride in America.  We need to have informed young adults who immediately become participating citizens making sound choices about our country and its future.  Senate Bill 192 might begin a movement in that direction.   

Can you pass a U.S. Citizenship Test?

Immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship study American history and civics to become knowledgeable about our country.  The United States Citizenship & Immigration Services uses a 100-question test from which candidates for citizenship are asked 10 random questions. In order to pass, the candidate must answer at least 6 of the 10 questions correctly. Senate Bill 192 would require Kentucky students to correctly answer 60 of the 100 questions before earning a high school diploma.  Here are sample questions drawn from a USCIS practice test.

1. What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?

2. Who is the Chief Justice of the United States now?

3. What is the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives now?

4. How many amendments does the Constitution have? 

5. During the Cold War, what was the main concern of the United States?

6. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?

7. Why does the flag have 13 stripes?

8. What are two Cabinet-level positions?

9. Name two national U.S. holidays.

10. What did Susan B. Anthony do?

11. If both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve, who becomes President?

12. What does the Constitution do?

13. Why do some states have more Representatives than other states?

14. Who did the United States fight in World War II?

15. Who signs bills to become laws?

16. What do we show loyalty to when we say the Pledge of Allegiance?

17. How many justices are on the Supreme Court?

18. Who was President during the Great Depression and World War II?

19. Who vetoes bills?

20. What did the Declaration of Independence do?



City Council’s blurred transparency
By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
January 7, 2016

 

The Glasgow City Council’s decision to purchase a new facility for their police department leaves a lot to be desired in the realm of operating with transparency.  The last time we checked, transparent was defined as “able to be seen through,” “easy to notice or understand,” or “honest and open : not secretive.” 

Councilman Wendell Honeycutt was correct to ask why it was necessary for the council to go into closed session to discuss the acquisition of property when it seemed everyone in the room – council members, city employees, the media, and spectators - knew exactly what was being discussed.  Add to that the fact that most observant Glasgow citizens also knew the council was looking to purchase the former headquarters of James N. Gray Construction Company now owned by W.E. Holdings.  Even the realtor representing the owner of the current leased property was in the room. 

Probably the worst-kept secret of 2015, the new police headquarters was like the proverbial elephant in the middle of the room that no one except Honeycutt wanted to discuss in earshot of the public.  The council retreated behind closed doors for a lengthy session to supposedly hammer out the issue and finalize the purchase price.  The law allows such groups to meet in closed session and that is appropriate. It would have also been very appropriate for the taxpayers of Glasgow to publically hear the opinions of their elected officials on the question.

Back in open session, Police Chief Guy Howie presented an effective overview of the current police headquarters and the proposed purchase.  There’s little question that the current facility is not a good fit for the department’s needs.  There is also the fact that the city has spent a large amount of money leasing the current facility.  Our police department should have adequate space to conduct its business under one roof and that space should be convenient for both the department and the public.

What happened next?  Ummm.  Nothing but a motion, a second, and a split 7-4 vote to buy the property in question.  Astonishingly, when the time came for discussion or questions prior to the vote, there were none. 

Not one of the 11 council members present or the mayor offered a single word of support, opposition, or even a question.  No one voiced an opinion at all.  Not one word.  None.

Perhaps it’s easier to spend $537,000 of taxpayer money without telling constituents why you think it’s a good idea.  At the same time, some taxpayers wonder why four council members voted against the purchase. 

The Glasgow City Council operates rather efficiently using committee meetings to iron out issues and make recommendations to the council.  Sometimes the council operates so efficiently that the opinion-sharing and real decision-making goes on in committee meetings and frequently, as in this case with the city’s Finance Committee, it was all done behind closed doors in a closed session.  That reduces the city council to merely being a rubber stamp.  There are simple issues in which that treatment is acceptable.  When there’s a question of spending large sums of money and no real effort made to tell the citizens why you’re doing it, it may be perfectly legal but it also sends a message that the preference is to conduct business in private. 

Glasgow citizens deserve to hear the opinions of their elected council members without having to track them down after the deal is done to ask them in person.  A consistent effort to be fully transparent would be an ideal New Year’s resolution for the council in 2016.


And so this is Christmas…again

By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.


There’s a little bit of Scrooge in all of us.  When one reaches an age in which he’s experienced a number of Christmases, a few dozen marathon shopping sprees combined with holiday decorating frenzies that have little to do with the actual holiday, Christmas can become more of a going-through-the-motions rather than everything being all merry and bright. 

There are family traditions to uphold – a certain decoration given its honored place, the making of recipes handed down from family and friends, the cookies to bake, the lights to string, and the list goes on to the point that the holiday season becomes a chore.  Too often, we easily fall into the “Bah, humbug!” attitude with our goal being to “just get through it.”  Frequently, we hear of people issuing a holiday greeting with the addendum of the desire for it to all be over.

Somehow, despite it all, Christmas lives.  The spirit goes on.  But how does it happen?
Now many would say Christmas lives because of the religious origin of the holiday, and hardly anyone would argue otherwise.

Some would say Christmas lives because of commercialism.  We complain that the holiday has become too commerce-oriented, yet our 19th century ancestors were the folks who started that trend in the years following the Civil War.  Whether we like it not, our economy depends on Christmas, and that’s part of how Christmas lives.

Perhaps the way the hallowed holiday continues on is because it is reborn every year.  Most holiday seasons are punctuated with some particular moment when the spirit of Christmas magically appears.
When children line up on stages and begin to sing “Silent Night,” no one seems to notice that it’s off-key. 

When tinsel halos are perched atop children’s heads while fluttering wings are pinned to their backs, no one minds the devilish grin on the angel’s face. 

When bathrobes become shepherd’s attire and great-grandpa’s long-unused cane comes out of the closet to become a shepherd’s staff, no one notices that there’s not a sheep in sight.

When children sit on a parent’s lap and drink in the tale of a certain night before Christmas, it becomes magical. 

When new generations gaze at shiny baubles on a Christmas tree for the first time, it’s a memorable sight to behold. 

When one reads or hears the story of old that begins at each telling, “And it came to pass…,” one is assured that the story will go on to swaddling cloths, angels, shepherds, and the eternally-tardy Magi.

When old familiar strains to the carols of season remind us to rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing while all is calm and bright in a lowly cattle shed and the good news is spread across the earth in story, song, and the ringing of bells.

These are the things that keep Christmas alive and help adults escape the numbing influences to renew the celebration that goes back centuries.

When the magic of Christmas arrives, it can be felt in the air, on the streets, it’s tucked in colorful envelopes arriving in the mail, in the greetings of nearly everyone, and even the most crazed among us become a little nicer. 

We see the magic of Christmas as we travel our community and see the way people decorate – even over-decorate – their homes and lawns.  It’s a reminder that even adults can be infected with an extra dose of joy to become almost giddy.

Yes, Christmas is also a time of gluttony and greed, when extravagant excesses also fill shopping lists to the point that too often it resembles the paganism and commercialism that Christmas purists love to hate.

Other parts of Christmas exist, too.  Just sit back and let the sounds of the season swirl about your head.  There, you’ll find that every dreamy Christmas is snow-laden, chestnuts are eternally roasting on open fires, and we’re reminded that at Christmas, all roads lead home, whether literally or in memory.  Gaze upon lights that enchant us to the point of being slightly out of focus, and then we remember that it can be a beautiful season after all.

What we all should strive for is to keep the Christmas spirit alive the rest of the year and not confined to just a few days.  Probably no one penned such a thought as eloquently as Henry van Dyke when he wrote his sermon well over 100 years ago and entitled it “Keeping Christmas.”  I’ll leave you with an excerpt from the message, and wish you a Merry Christmas.

“Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world; to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground; to see that your fellow-men are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy; to own that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life; to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness – are you willing to do these things even for a day?  Then you can keep Christmas.”

Nepotism and the perks of elected office
By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.


There are no hard and fast rules about how local officials should conduct themselves when holding taxpayer-funded offices, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be.  For example, there are few, if any, compelling arguments to be made for elected officials hiring their family members to work in jobs they control or influence – especially when they are using the taxpayers’ dollars to do it.  Sadly, no one keeps track of nepotism in Kentucky until Jim McNair began a study of nepotism in local government.

A portion of well-placed blame rests on members of the Kentucky General Assembly who set out to address rampant nepotism in the state years ago and only half-heartedly tackled the problem, just as they’ve continued to do with things like the pension system crisis for teachers and public employees, unfunded mandates, and the state’s budget.  You see, a couple of decades back, our legislators lamely told local governments that they had to have a nepotism policy. They didn’t remind them that nepotism was not acceptable or unethical or offensive to the people who pay taxes.  They told them to create a policy.

That brings to mind another well-placed portion of the blame which goes to county fiscal courts, the bodies made up of the County Judge/Executive and Magistrates of days gone by who found ways to continue the good old boy practice of employing family members.  Most Kentucky counties set up appropriate nepotism policies – that is, they specified that elected officials could not use taxpayer dollars to hire their relatives.  A small number of counties came up with a hybrid: elected officials may hire one family member.  A few other counties, such as Metcalfe, established a policy allowing an elected official to hire a family member by stating that it was a necessity to hire their relative because no one else available was qualified for the job. 

To take things a step further, a very small number of counties – Monroe and Allen – adopted nepotism policies allowing elected officials to hire an unlimited number of family members.  One lone county of the state’s 120 – Butler – enacted a one-of-a-kind policy that defines which relationships that it considers family.  Quite uniquely, the policy doesn’t consider a spouse a family member. 

Far too often, the jobs are not advertised and thus, no one else applies nor is another candidate interviewed or considered for the position. 

Perhaps one of the important things our legislators could and should do when the General Assembly convenes in January is put a stop to the range of policies and eliminate nepotism in local governments once and for all.  It’s an opportunity for legislators to restore some faith before they ask clearly unhappy voters to cast a ballot in their favor later next year.

Jobs for family members aren’t the only perk available to many elected officials – in most cases they get a huge amount of free advertising paid for, once again, by taxpayers.  Governor-elect Matt Bevin has already let it be known that he plans to remove County Clerks’ names from marriage licenses.  The coming weeks will be a perfect time to eliminate elected officials’ names from as many public documents as possible.  If the County Clerk’s name isn’t needed on a marriage license, do elected officials’ names really need to be printed on every form, letterhead and envelope?  Do we really need to know the elected head of the department inspecting every gas pump in the state?  It’s taxpayer-funded free advertising that needs to be eliminated. 

A new administration arriving in Frankfort armed with a mandate from voters and laden with fresh, innovative ideas may be the catalyst that helps Kentucky move away from nepotism and inappropriate practices.  For the sake of taxpayers, let’s hope so. 





Lessons learned from “The Greatest Generation”
By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
August 13, 2015
America’s history is filled with examples of greatness but perhaps no generation has impacted our country – our world, actually - than the men and women who were born in the second and third decades of the 20th century.  They were the people who grew up during the Great Depression and after navigating that catastrophe they went off to fight the Second World War.  When the war was over they came home and built an America that was, perhaps, the best it’s ever been.  They knew the meaning of sacrifice – they worked for what they had by using blood, sweat, and tears cheered on by sheer determination.  These men and women were not prone to bragging about their accomplishments or complaining about what they’d been through.  They were loyal and patriotic, and they did things because it was the right thing to do rather than for fame, recognition or mention on a resume.
Those who made up the Greatest Generation were not made of different stuff than the generations that followed them, but they faced and overcame hardships and challenges that few of us can comprehend.  They rose to the occasion that life presented them and they did it well.  They weren’t perfect by any means, but they proved themselves to be a cut above the rest.  They gave us lessons about how to live with character, meaning, and success.  Consider some of the lessons the Greatest Generation has given us.

LESSON ONE:  Taking personal responsibility.  The Greatest Generation accepted responsibility – they were not whiners or excuse-makers. They were anxious to step up and do their part for the greater good whether it was their family, their community, their church, their civic organizations, their business, or their country.  They took pride in personal accountability. 

LESSON TWO:  Being frugal.  One of the mottoes of the Greatest Generation was “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”  They learned to live on less and be grateful for what they had.  Their Christmas morning didn’t have to be brightened by expensive toys, gadgets, and baubles; they were tickled with an orange, some nuts, and a peppermint stick in their sock.  They didn’t purchase sports cars to soothe their mid-life crises and they didn’t equate success by acquiring a McMansion.  Instead, they were thrilled to move into modest but fully useful homes that contained less square feet than many modern garages today.

LESSON THREE:  Being humble.  The Greatest Generation, particularly those who served in World War II, did what was expected of them – their duty - and never talked about it.  They didn’t have to do a victory dance in the end zone or talk smack in front of logo-emblazoned backdrops for photo opportunities and sound bites.  Many children have sorted through their parents’ belongings to find war medals and relics stashed in the attic having never been told how or why those medals were earned or the significance of the relic.

LESSON FOUR:  Loyalty in love.  When the Greatest Generation got married, they took it seriously.  Marriage was a commitment and divorce was not an easy option.  In 1940, 1 in 6 marriages ended in divorce. Today, that number is 1 in 2.  There was no hanging out or hooking up.  The men asked women who caught their eye on a real date and they were serious about it.  If a girl caught a man’s heart after catching his eye, he proposed, they got married, and stayed that way.

LESSON FIVE:  Work hard.  The Greatest Generation was not afraid of work.  They knew that the good things in life must be earned by honest work.  Those who served our country in World War II learned the importance of accomplishing an objective and when they got home from the war, they transferred their focus to their work. They didn’t have to “find themselves” in order to be happy. They found happiness and success in what they did because they weren’t working for self-fulfillment, they were laboring to give their families the financial security they didn’t have growing up in the Depression.  They knew that going into debt wasn’t the way to get what you want and that when you graduate from college, you don’t automatically have the things your parents and grandparents spent 35 years acquiring.

LESSON SIX:  Embrace challenges.  The Greatest Generation knew that happiness comes from overcoming the kind of challenges that build character and polish the soul.  They weren’t the Greatest Generation in spite of the challenges they faced, but because of them. Unlike today, they didn’t believe that the easier life is, the happier they will be. They found joy in their accomplishments because they knew how easily it could all be taken away.

LESSON SEVEN:  Don’t complicate life.  The Greatest Generation was blessed with common sense and they approached life with a level head.  Instead of going on a diet, they ate whole food.  They didn’t exercise at the health club, they worked at their job, around the house, in the yard, and on the farm.  They found a mate in life and married them.  They took pride in personal appearance. They didn’t fret over what kind of countertops or appliances were in their kitchen or which brands suited their personal image.  They didn’t necessarily think about how to get things done– no blue ribbon commissions or long-range plans were necessary - they just did them.

With this week’s 70th anniversary of the end of America’s involvement in World War II, we all need to pause and consider how the Greatest Generation made America great.  Not only should we express gratitude to those who survive, but we should honor them by adopting the life lessons they gave us.


The Tennessee Gas Pipeline:  Risky Business
By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
August 6, 2015
Residents of south central Kentucky need to keep a close watch on plans for the repurposing of the 72-year old Tennessee Gas Pipeline.  If you haven’t followed this story over the past several months, it’s time to sit up and take notice as well as speak up.  It’s an issue that specifically affects Barren and Hart Counties in south central Kentucky.

In a nutshell, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners owns 256 miles of gas pipelines running through 18 Kentucky counties; over 33 miles of the pipeline run beneath Barren and Hart Counties.  The proposed plan is to abandon, or remove from use a portion of pipeline, and then sell the abandoned pipeline to a new company formed by Kinder Morgan to use it in a very different way.  The repurposing would mean the aging World War II-era pipeline that does not conform to any modern standards would have 400,000 gallons of natural gas liquids, a waste product, transported through it daily.  

The NGLs will be transported under a greater pressure than the current natural gas is transported – an idea that has not been tested nor are there plans to test the pipeline’s ability to withstand the added pressure.  Further, NGLs are wickedly combustible:  150 times more combustible than natural gas.  By comparison, every linear foot of the pipeline would have explosive capabilities of just under one ton of dynamite.

The purpose of this plan:  for Kinder Morgan Energy and MarkWest, two large energy / pipeline companies, to make money.  The project does not benefit anyone in Kentucky or any of the other places along the 964-mile route running from Ohio, through Kentucky, and then to the Gulf of Mexico.  There is not a single benefit to people, only financial benefits for distant corporations.  

The risk is too great to ignore and it is imperative that Kentuckians express their opposition to the project.  Barren County Fiscal Court was the most recent Kentucky county to officially register opposition by adopting a resolution at their meeting last week.  To date, Hart County officials have failed to register an opinion on behalf of their citizens.  Now is the time for action from public officials and individual citizens.


Where the sun doesn’t shine
Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
July 16, 2015

Kentuckians love to sing about the sun shining brightly in our collective old Kentucky home, but there are places that darkness prevails, namely dozens of local government-affiliated boards and commissions, fiscal courts and city councils that seem to prefer private, backroom deals.  As the media, the various branches of Jobe Publishing in Barren, Butler, Hart, Metcalfe, and Monroe Counties, observe this happening too frequently.  This isn’t the first time we’ve expressed dismay that public servants, whether they are elected or appointed, fail to follow the Kentucky Open Meetings Act. 

In recent weeks we have observed more examples of this trend with local school boards, fiscal courts, city councils, boards, and agencies – each of which is connected to government and using taxpayer dollars – conducting or attempting to conduct business behind closed doors, out of sight, and out of earshot of the public.  Very simply, Kentucky’s “sunshine laws,” which were designed to guarantee transparency, are being circumvented.

Elected officials and citizen-appointees provide an important service to our communities as part of our form of government.  They are well-intentioned, good-hearted, giving people.  They spend taxpayer dollars.  They make decisions that affect everyone who resides in our communities.  Unfortunately, they also sometimes have the attitude that they should conduct the people’s business in private.

Kentucky’s Open Meetings Act provides thirteen specific situations in which a body may go into closed session.  They generally deal with personnel, litigation, and property transactions in which the value of the property might be affected if discussed in open session.  The rules of the Open Meetings Act are not complicated and there’s no excuse for anyone – citizen-appointees, elected officials, and their paid staff – to not understand how they must operate.  These are not the media’s rules, but they are state law and not following them is illegal.

In recent months we’ve observed multiple instances in which bodies inappropriately went into closed session without fully stating, as required by the Open Meetings Act, the specific Kentucky Revised Statute allowing the closed session and what they will be discussing in that closed session.  We’ve documented cases in which bodies inappropriately took votes behind closed doors and admitted discussing subjects other than the one they announced prior to the session.  We’ve observed bodies making motions to move into a closed session because they didn’t want the public to know their practices.  After objection, that body simply changed the subject and left the questions unanswered.  We’ve observed property transactions handled in appropriately and decisions made behind closed doors that affect thousands of people who had no knowledge of the decisions being made. 

In the five counties served by Jobe Publishing, there are more than 200 groups that fall under the jurisdiction of the Open Meetings Act.  It is essential that every member of these groups have appropriate training about Open Meetings and Open Records laws.  Circumventing the law is not acceptable and ignorance of the law is no excuse.  Allowing such practices sets a precedent that can easily evolve into corruption or perceived corruption. 

Now is the time for our local governments and elected bodies to show the public that they take the trust placed in them seriously by creating suitable training opportunities for members of these groups.  It shouldn’t be an optional training, but mandatory for continued service.  In addition to making certain that these bodies are following the law, such action would be an assurance to the public and the media that they intend to operate deliberately and within the law.

Taking note of history
Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
July 9, 2015
Last week marked the 102nd anniversary of a unique and meaningful event in American history – one that few people recalled.  On July 3, 1913, 50,000 veterans of the Civil War gathered for a reunion and a re-enactment of Pickett’s Charge that was the last major Confederate effort in the 3-day Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.  The re-enactment meant that the Confederate veterans, ranging in age from 61 to an alleged 112, headed up Cemetery Hill where Union veterans were behind a stone wall ready to attack them.  The original version included 12,500 Confederates and half of them were killed.  In the 1913 version, instead of attacking, the veterans shook hands and embraced as united Americans.  The event was so moving and symbolic that 25 years later 2,000 of those veterans, then with an average age of 94, returned to dedicate the Eternal Light Peace Memorial commemorating the 1913 event. Carved into the stone edifice of the memorial are the words, "Peace Eternal in a Nation United."

The fact that former foes could gather as Americans united speaks well of both the Union and Confederate veterans who had obviously salved their wounds and moved forward.  Who better to look to as an example than the men who actually fought and lived through the war?  Currently, our country appears to have reinstated the age-old arguments about the war through social and mainstream media with banners for both sides carried forth by neophytes whose knowledge is limited to slanted views coming from all directions and perhaps some personal family history.  They are not all wrong but neither are they all correct.

The horrific murders of nine South Carolina residents by an evil-spirited man set off the national debate about a war that ended 150 years ago this spring. Virtually anything related to that bitter conflict that scarred a nation and a generation of people has become fodder for near-fanatical debate.  In the course of the argument the Confederate Battle Flag (which was never an officially adopted flag of the Confederate States of America), and the people who actually were a part of the war have been demonized as advocates of racism with little regard for the more complex collection of reasons that pitted brother against brother.

Objective historians have long known that it is impossible for 20th and 21st century Americans to fully understand the mindset of Americans living more than 150 years ago and who were guided by different circumstances, beliefs, and different moral compasses.  Yet, that is exactly what many modern Americans have done and they have erroneously concluded that all Confederate supporters were immoral racists and Union supporters were all honorable liberators.  While there are examples of those who earned such judgments, there remain all of the other people.  Our modern world demands that we not stereotype people today and it is irrational to do so regarding those who lived through the war.  

Simply put, support of the Confederacy did not mean one supported slavery any more than support of the Union indicated an anti-slavery stance.  When I conduct Civil War-themed walking tours of Glasgow for local schools, the students are mystified to learn about local residents through their personal writings because they realize they cannot accurately categorize people and beliefs.  Without fail, the students are surprised by the fact that this area had a small but active group of abolitionists working to find a way to end slavery. They are perplexed to learn that nearly all of the group’s members also owned slaves.  In some cases, the local slave owners freed their slaves, but yet their families were fully supportive of the Confederacy while some Union sympathizers were also slave owners.  Modern minds cannot grasp the eccentricities of popular thought in the 17th, 18th, and first 65 years of the 19th centuries.  Many fail to recognize that many Americans thought states were autonomous and could withdraw from the Union at any time while others viewed states as merely geographic divisions of a larger country.

Kentucky gave roots to the two men who led two nations through the Civil War:  Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln.  Both men were born months apart and less than 100 miles apart and both moved away from Kentucky as youngsters to other states who also claim them.  Davis returned to Kentucky to attend Transylvania University before moving on to West Point.  He visited his Kentucky birthplace twice during his latter years; he almost visited a third time when he was invited to be the Commencement speaker at Glasgow Normal School in 1889 but his declining health prevented his attendance.  Lincoln returned to Kentucky a handful of times during his life, a couple of them with his Kentucky-born wife, Mary Todd.  Interestingly, Lincoln may have become more popular with Kentuckians after his death than during most of his life.  Kentuckians resoundingly voted against him in the presidential election of 1860; in all fairness, Kentuckian John C. Breckinridge, the Democratic candidate in that election, was also rejected by Kentucky voters.

Sadly, the Civil War left both Union and Confederate veterans maimed physically and mentally – if they were lucky enough to survive the battlefield, disease, or starvation.  Many of those soldiers came home to mend fences, both literally and figuratively, and create new lives in harmony with one another as Americans.  At the same time, those who believed in white supremacy leveled a terrible blow and our country is still feeling the effects of it today.  Organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan handily picked up the tattered remnants of the defunct Confederacy, the Battle Flag specifically, and used them to symbolize their reign of terror for decades following the Civil War and well into the 20th century.  It is no wonder that a piece of fabric regarded by many as a symbol of a region could also be viewed by others as a symbol of racism and oppression.

Time will tell how 21st century Americans relate to the people, places, events and the remaining relics of the Civil War.  Obliterating bits and pieces of history and the related artifacts becomes a very slippery slope that has no ending point.  It’s unreasonable to suggest that the past can be rewritten to suit modern thought.  As our nation’s former poet laureate, Maya Angelou, wrote, “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
 

Our View:  Being American First
By Sam Terry, Managing Editor
and
Jeff Jobe, Publishing & CEO
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
July 1, 2015

The month of June will go down in history as one of great change in America.  People generally don’t like change and when there is a hint of disagreement lines seem to be quickly drawn in the sand.  Years ago author T.H. White wrote, “The destiny of man is to unite, not divide.  If you keep on dividing you end up as a collection of monkeys throwing nuts at each other out of separate trees.”  Lately that thought hasn’t seemed far from reality.  Social media, television, radio, and print media have been filled with stories about multiple issues eliciting passionate opinions on same-sex marriage, war relics, racism, religious doctrine, healthcare, and even the EPA.  

The truth is that nearly every American already had an opinion on each of the issues but recent events have brought them to the forefront of thought.  One of the hallmarks of being an American citizen is that we are free to form our opinion and express it freely.  Unfortunately, the manner in which some people express opinions is controversial, hurtful to others, and in some cases tragic.  Intolerance of differing opinions threatens one of the most unique and cherished characteristics of our country.  

This week we will commemorate the 239th anniversary of our forefathers boldly taking a stand to wrestle free from our tyrannical British mother country.  The goal of those men was to be free of the oppression of their day (which was quite different from what 21st century minds consider oppression) and establish a free country.  They had no idea what this new country might look like 25 years down the road and certainly not more than two centuries later.  After all, there had never been a government quite like the one they were creating so there were no clear comparisons.  Yet, they did it and it’s been a fairly successful experiment.  We are too quick to forget what a young nation we remain.  

The American Revolution produced a country filled with a rag-tag collection of people ranging from prodigal blue bloods to criminals and social misfits, to devout adherents of various religious sects.  Yet, they were all bound together by the single desire to live freely.  With such virtuous thoughts in mind, we should not forget that not all of our history was noble or correct; after all, our forebears pushed the native peoples who were already here out of the way and claimed their land as ours.   

Our ancestors of 239 years ago also lived with a different set of standards than ours today.  Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of our Declaration of Independence, wrote that “All men are created equal,” a statement that confounds modern minds because he was a slave-owner, as were most of the founding fathers.   History reveals that these men fought bitterly over a variety of ideas.  James Madison, the author of our Constitution, felt strongly that religion and government should never be intertwined, yet others insist that America was founded as a Christian nation.  Our collective ancestors held passionately differing opinions just as we do today.

Both Jefferson and Madison felt that a constitution should be rewritten with each generation – or about every 19-25 years – lest the people become “enslaved to the prior generation.”  Our country hasn’t practiced that idea and considering how enthusiastically 21st century Americans embrace the right to express their opinion, such an undertaking might lead to a true civil war.  Changing American opinion, thought, or principals is a much harder task than upgrading to the newest technology that we eagerly embrace with our vast array of gadgets.

Through all of these 239 years, Americans have found a way to live together.  In the early days of our country, the people were held together by the remembrance of what it took to become a free nation.  The terrible years of the Civil War divided both the country and families and succeeding generations have worked to move beyond those bitter years.  The Great Depression of the 1930’s brought America to its knees and people remembered that we’re put on earth to serve one another. World War II solidified Americans as much as anything in our history and after the war our country experienced one of our most progressive periods.  Scattered in between, Americans concluded that people of color, no matter what their ancestors’ nationality, were equal to everyone else.  Women were deemed equal to men.  We experienced more than a few wars that we didn’t win nor could we explain.  Yet, we made it to June 2015. 

Last week our country experienced yet another sea-change with multiple movements but none as electrifying as the Supreme Court’s split decision allowing same-sex marriage.  It’s a concept that has sharply divided people for a few decades and last Thursday’s ruling has brought into focus a complex series of divisions among us.  The change affects aspects of our government, our churches, our businesses, and certainly our interpersonal relationships.

Whether you agree with it or not, we are all still Americans and the eyes of the world are watching how we manage this landmark change. What we must remember is that we’re Americans and we have far more things that unite us than divide us.  We’re here together and just has we have for 239 years, Americans will find a way to make it work.
 

Symbolic Pride
Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
June 25, 2015
Are you proud to be a Kentuckian?
Over the past few weeks some folks have suggested Kentuckians “don’t express pride as much as do residents of some other U.S. states and Canadian provinces,” according to a Lexington Herald-Leader writer reporting on comments by musician Ben Sollee.  Sollee suggested that Kentuckians don’t express pride in our state because our Commonwealth’s flag is considered lackluster.   He told an audience at the Kentucky Historical Society recently that residents of places like British Columbia, Colorado and California are proud of their home and unabashedly wear the image of their state’s flag.

Sollee used a poll by the North American Vexillogical Association – people who study flag design and put forth “guiding principles” for such designs – to back up his argument.  It seems the vexillogists think New Mexico has the best flag design in the United States and Georgia has the worst and Kentucky ranks number 66 out of 72 North American flags.  Kentucky’s flag was designed in 1918 by Frankfort art teacher Jesse Cox Burgess as part of a trend that began with the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago.

The notion that Kentuckians lack pride in their state is perhaps fueled by the tired quips about us being behind the times or lacking appropriate footwear that have been around for decades.  Such ideas are stereotypes that plague every place and every people at some point.  While some may chuckle about perceived shortcomings, Kentucky has contributed as much or more to the success of America as any other place.  And, we’re proud of it.

Kentucky writer Irvin S. Cobb said, “To be a Kentuckian is a heritage; to brag about it is a habit; to appreciate it is a virtue.”  Travel to any place in America or around the world and tell someone you’re from Kentucky and eyes will brighten and smiles will form because they know Kentucky for one reason or another.

We’ve been host to one of the most recognized sporting events in the world for over 140 years and one is hard-pressed to find a person who’s never heard of the Kentucky Derby.  As a result of our signature horse race, our state song, “My Old Kentucky Home,” is one of the most recognized songs around the globe because it is a key element of the Derby.  Speaking of songs, “Happy Birthday to You,” was penned by two Louisville sisters, Mildred and Patty Hill.

Just try to convince people that Kentuckians don’t take pride in their athletic team of choice.  While our state flag might not be the most easily recognized, you can comfortably wager a sizeable bet that they know what a wildcat, a cardinal, and the letters UK and UL represent. 

When it comes to food, come up with a more world famous dish than Kentucky Fried Chicken that made Col. Harland Sanders an iconic figure recognized everywhere.  Of course, cheeseburgers got their start at Kaelin’s in Louisville in 1934 and they’ve become rather popular.

Kentuckians also take pride in their beverages with none more famous than bourbon whiskey that traces its origin to Kentucky frontier. Our signature bourbon is so popular that we’ve got a good supply on hand – there are more barrels of it than our population.   Besides Tennessee whiskey, can you name another libation with a state’s name attached?  Our Commonwealth has also made a hit out of mint juleps made with our locally produced bourbon.  Kentucky beverages of a less-potent variety include Maxwell House Coffee which was perfected by Cumberland County resident Joel Cheek in 1892.

Our people have been inventors who brought us a lot of pride.  Kentuckians gave us the Louisville Slugger baseball bat, gas masks, the traffic signal, the radio, sunlamps, Reynolds Wrap, Jif Peanut Butter, the steamboat, the “Tommy Gun” handheld machine gun, Preparation H and thousands more things that have made our state, our country, and in a few cases, our world a more viable place.

We’ve produced some impressive people in whom we take pride as well – Abraham Lincoln, Muhammed Ali, Rosemary Clooney and her nephew George, Diane Sawyer, Johnny Depp, and the list could ultimately fill many pages.

Sollee commented that a new state flag “would do wonders for people outside of Kentucky recognizing and visiting this place.”  Kentucky may need many things but a new flag holds a low rank on the list.  We have a flag that serves its purpose but the true banner representing Kentucky is its people and their accomplishments for more than 200 years.

Yes, we have pride in Kentucky.

Everyday patriotism

By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
June 11, 2015

More than 40 years ago in the 1973-1974 school year, a classmate and I received a high honor for 5th grade students at Caverna Elementary School.  Terry Scott and I were chosen to be “the flag boys,” which meant that it was our assignment to raise the flag of the United States of America on the school’s flagpole each morning.  I have no idea why this task was assigned to 5th grade students nor do I know how either of us was chosen for this important duty. 

Being a flag boy was serious business.  If you didn’t carry out your duty appropriately, there could be consequences from stern but beloved teachers such as Minnie Sartin, Marge Handy or Annetta Gossett.  Terry and I took our responsibility to heart and we learned everything there was to know about the American flag:  its display, folding, care, history, and how to show respect for it.  We proudly hoisted the flag each morning and later in the day we properly folded it for its next use. It was an experience that created lifelong memories.

More than four decades ago it seems young people were methodically taught to give proper respect for the flag and for our nation’s anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.  Now, as an adult citizen in a position that places me in the middle of hundreds of public events throughout the state, it is surprising to observe half-hearted recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance to our nation’s flag.  It’s somewhat disappointing to see our nation’s most prized symbol presented before audiences that may or may not give their full attention to it. 

The decline of respect for our National Anthem is disheartening.  Its presentation at some events has turned into an “I did it my way” performance that leaves one wondering what the vocalist could have been thinking.  It’s our nation’s official anthem to be played and/or sung with spirit as it was written, and not subject to creative whims.  Sometimes it seems most of the audience wants to enthusiastically applaud and cheer the performers rather than the greatest nation the world has ever known.  It’s disappointing to observe events and realize that only about 25% of the participants will hold their right hand over their heart when our National Anthem is performed.  Perhaps those persons aren’t at fault for something they may not have been taught.

Reflecting on the lessons learned as a flag boy four decades ago, it occurs to me that so much has changed in our country - some things for the better - and some are merely the result of sloppy habits that are now unfortunate traditions.  This weekend our country will observe Flag Day, a minor holiday whose significance seems to have diminished since its inception in 1916 during World War I.  The occasion is an ideal time to refresh our American manners and resolve to become more mindful of our patriotic duty to our country and its time-honored symbols.

Oliver set a standard for service
By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
June 4, 2015

Councilwoman Sheila Oliver’s service to the City of Glasgow earned her a deserved place in the history of our community. Her passing last week marked the end of a decades-long relationship between Oliver and the community she loved.  In her service as a City Council member, City Clerk/Administrator, dedicated volunteer, and citizen, one cannot recall an instance in which Sheila’s desire to better Glasgow was not evident in her actions.

The renowned Indira Ghandi recalled her grandfather advising, “There are two kinds of people:  those who do the work and those who take the credit.  Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.”  Comparatively speaking, Sheila Oliver was consistently among those who did the work.  She was a life-long worker without question. 

As a youngster, Sheila could be found with her parents, Leroy and Bernardine, at events such as the Kiwanis Fish Fry serving catfish, hush puppies, and smiles that demanded one in return.  As a young professional, Sheila was determined to be a success.  Her business aptitude is evident by the string of successful businesses she owned, operated, or managed during her working career. 

As a member of the Glasgow City Council and also as City Clerk/Administrator, Sheila was similar to the A-student who insisted on sitting on the front row in class.  She made a point of being prepared by having done her homework before she arrived at both council meetings and committee meetings.  Far too often, other council members arrived unprepared and looked to Sheila to guide them in making good decisions for Glasgow’s future.  If there was a tough issue on the agenda, you could be certain that Sheila had researched the subject, made phone calls, read all the materials she could find, checked local ordinances and state laws, considered the financial implications, and was ready for action when the time for debate arrived.  

Finally, Sheila earned a reputation for her volunteer work.  If you knew Sheila very well, you knew that one of her favorite annual activities was helping decorate our downtown square for the holiday season each and every Thanksgiving morning.  While 99.999% of Glasgow’s residents were fussing over turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie, Sheila devoted hours to seeing that Glasgow was decked in its holiday finery for the people of Glasgow to enjoy.  That is but one example of Sheila’s servant-leader mentality.

Sheila was a valued member of our community and our local government.  The citizens of Glasgow owe a debt of gratitude for a life well lived in the service of our community.

~

Remembering what’s important

By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
May 21, 2015
Memorial Day is just around the corner and it seems everyone has made plans for the weekend.  For some there will be barbeques, pool parties, or lake excursions.  Others will cut grass, plant flowers, or finally get around to completing the overdue painting.  Stores and online merchants will bombard us with deals on clothing and household items.  Everyone will look forward to the next few months of warm weather until they begin to complain that it’s too hot.  Yet, the one thing that should be at the top of the list of plans is truly observing Memorial Day.
Unfortunately, Memorial Day is not exclusively about happy times spent in the warm sunshine.  It’s a day that is much more.  Next Monday is the day set aside to remember those who died in the service of our country – nothing more, nothing less.  Men and women have served this country for well over 200 years reaching back before we declared our independence from Great Britain.  Hundreds of thousands of those men and women gave their lives for our country and this is their day.  It’s not Veterans Day, Independence Day, D-Day, or any of the other patriotic holidays dotting the calendar.  It’s Memorial Day.
For the families of those who paid the ultimate price for freedom, it’s a day that is somber.  There are wives and husbands whose mates are gone, children whose parent will never see them grow up and enjoy the blessings of this country.  There are grandchildren who will yearn for a grandparent they never knew.  There are friends, classmates, and comrades whose minds will recall the loss of someone important in their lives.
This weekend and next Monday, many of us will gather in cemeteries, parks and courthouse lawns for a few moments to recall the lives of these men and women.  There will be toe-tapping patriotic tunes, flags and bunting, wreaths of flowers.  There will be significant words spoken that we all need to hear.  At the end of speeches, there will be an uncomfortable silence shattered by three rifle volleys that will bring lumps to throats and tears that will dampen cheeks.  For those standing at attention, they will recall the faces of those who no longer stand to their left or right or sit around the family table.  They will recall the smiles, the laughs, the good times, and even some bad times.
Memorial Day is so much more than a long weekend away from work.  Take time in the coming days to avoid the busyness of your life and pause for just a little while to reflect on what someone else did so that you may live here and enjoy life as we know it.  


Transparency is essential to good government
By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
May 14, 2015
“You can observe a lot by just watching,” said Yogi Berra in one of his infamous quips to reporters of decades past.  The quote easily translates to what this newspaper does on behalf of the public as it relates to local government.  We spend a significant amount of time each week simply observing what is taking place. 
In recent weeks we have observed a disturbing trend within area boards and commissions – arms of local government – conducting or wanting to conduct business behind closed doors, out of sight and earshot of the public. Simply put, they seek to circumvent the all-important “sunshine laws” designed to provide transparency and thus, good government. 
Citizen-appointees to the many arms of local government perform an important service to their communities and fellow citizens.  They are good-hearted, well-intentioned, generous people.  They spend taxpayer dollars and make serious decisions that affect everyone, and in some cases, they become the face and voice of our community. In some cases, they feel they should conduct the people’s business in private. 
Some business is sensitive and it is appropriately conducted out of the public eye.  Kentucky’s Open Meetings Laws provide for that option when discussing personnel, litigation, or property transactions.  The rules are very simple and there is no excuse for anyone - citizen-appointees, elected officials, and their paid staff – to not understand how they must operate.  The rules are not the media’s rules, but they are state law.  Skirting those laws is illegal.
In recent weeks we have observed the Glasgow-Barren County Tourist Commission hold a special-called meeting without fully disclosing what business was to be discussed or conducted at the meeting.  The law requires special-called meeting notices to specifically state why the meeting is being called and publish the agenda.  No other business may be discussed or acted on outside of the stated purpose.
Of a far greater concern is the fact that the Commission then closed its doors to meet in closed session to discuss matters that did not meet the guidelines for a closed session.
Last week, the Barren-Metcalfe Ambulance Service held a special-called meeting to discuss a specific personnel issue and the body appropriately went into a lengthy closed session.  When the group emerged and went back into open session – where all could see and hear – they announced that their paid managers would handle the situation.  However, in comments following the meeting, it became very clear that the body had taken a vote while in closed session. Kentucky law stipulates that bodies may discuss the stated subject as long as they wish, but they may not take a vote in any form.  The group must return to the public’s presence and then take action.
Earlier this week, the Glasgow Airport Board met where a very important discussion took place.  The board’s longtime paid consultant commented that he could explain things more fully if they were in closed session.  Pressed for answers, members of the board indicated they would go into closed session.  Their board attorney correctly advised them that the matters at hand could not be discussed behind closed doors and out of the public eye.  It’s the law.
There are more than 40 boards and commissions at work in Glasgow and Barren County.  It is essential that the appointing bodies – the city councils of Glasgow, Cave City, and Park City and Barren County Fiscal Court – provide training about Open Meetings and Open Records laws.  Circumventing the law is not acceptable and ignorance of the law is no excuse.  Allowing such practices sets a precedent that can easily evolve into corruption or perceived corruption.
Now is the time for our local governments to join forces to create suitable training opportunities for members of boards and commissions that should be a requirement for their continued service.  In addition to making certain that these bodies are following the law, such action would be an assurance to the public and the media that our leaders intend to operate deliberately and within the law.


May in Kentucky celebrates the best things in life
By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
May 7, 2015
While most people have warm memories of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, the merry month of May is one of the most significant in our lives because it is filled with rites of passage and time-honored traditions.  Simply put, there’s nothing to compare with May in Kentucky.

Non-Kentuckians have trouble understanding our Derby traditions where we stage the Commonwealth’s biggest garden party featuring horses, hats, and Mint Juleps, and which is topped off with its own song.  Thanks to the Kentucky Derby, Stephen Foster’s melodic “My Old Kentucky Home” is one of the most recognized songs around the world and on the first Saturday of May, everything stops for a few lump-in-your-throat moments that are nearly as famous as the two minute race that follows.

Just a week later, we celebrate mothers, grandmothers, and would-be mothers with their own day – one that traces its roots to Henderson, Kentucky where Mary Towles Sasseen began the movement that is now a tradition.  About the same time as Derby Day and Mother’s Day, the proverbial red carpet is rolled out to showcase Kentucky’s latest crop of belles and beaux, dressed as never before, on the way to their Prom.

While most wouldn’t consider Election Day a holiday, for many it is just that as political rhetoric fills the air in highly competitive races for public office.  May’s Primary Elections are not a lot different than the races of horses with some casting their vote based on name, past performance, background, personal style, or predicted accomplishments.

The latter part of the month yields graduation exercises for students of all ages and brings lofty thoughts of good wishes for future success as graduates embark on a new phase of life.  The end of May brings Memorial Day when we remember those no longer with us, particularly those who have defended our country.
Recalling memories of May in years past, I often recall special moments and lessons learned from my maternal grandmother, Dorothy Alexander Matthews, a proud resident of the tiny village of Goodnight in northern Barren County.  While she never enjoyed the Kentucky Derby within the confines of Churchill Downs, she made a point of knowing about each of the celebrated horses and reveled in the traditions associated with the day.  She enjoyed Mother’s Day with her children and grandchildren but I had the privilege of helping her plant flowers for her front porch flower boxes each year.  During that May ritual she would remind me, “Now, I want red geraniums because that was my mother’s favorite,” and since her death, I find that I quietly continue her tradition by having a red geranium honoring a woman who died years before I was born.

My grandmother was one of the most patriotic individuals I have known.  Flying our country’s flag was as much of a habit for her as putting on a coat in winter.  Part of her patriotic fervor stemmed from having four brothers who were scattered around the world to defend our country during World War II.  She rarely missed an opportunity to honor them and all of our other veterans with her presence at Memorial Day and Veterans Day observances.

The other facet of my grandmother’s patriotic bent came in May and November as she would remind you that women were granted the right to vote in 1921, the year of her birth.  She took her constitutional right quite seriously for it was a privilege and a responsibility to vote at every opportunity.  While she was never shy to voice her candidate preferences, foremost in her mind was encouraging others to vote.  While others considered their attire for Derby festivities, prom, and graduation, my grandmother’s favorite brooch made its semi-annual appearance everywhere she went for a few weeks.  The pin had no colorful stones or intricate designs, but it simply bore the word VOTE in large red-white-and-blue letters. 

Nearly 16 years have passed since my grandmother cast her last vote and the memorable brooch rests in the hands of a family member who also has fond memories of how one woman reminded everyone to be a proud Kentuckian and a responsible and patriotic American.  The merry month of May brings to mind memories of her front porch facing Goodnight’s main thoroughfare and where she practiced what she preached and grew red geraniums. 

Since last May, my grandparents’ home at Goodnight has been entrusted to a new family with the hope that they enjoy the traditions of May just as my grandmother did.  Memories of May remain with us, but one day soon the new residents are likely to find a pot of red geraniums left on their doorstep, just for tradition’s sake.



And so this is Christmas…again
By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
December 24, 2014

      There’s a little bit of Scrooge in all of us.  When one reaches an age in which he’s experienced a number of Christmases, a few dozen marathon shopping sprees combined with holiday decorating frenzies that have little to do with the actual holiday, Christmas can become more of a going through the motions rather than all being merry and bright. 

  There are family traditions to uphold – a certain decoration given its honored place, the making of recipes handed down from family and friends, the cookies to bake, the lights to string, and the list goes on to the point that the holiday season becomes a chore.  Too often, we easily fall into the “Bah, humbug” attitude with our goal being to just get through it.  Frequently, we hear of people issuing a holiday greeting with the addendum of the desire for it to all be over.

                Somehow, despite it all, Christmas lives.  The spirit goes on.  But how does it happen?

                Now many would say Christmas lives because of the religious origin of the holiday, and hardly anyone would argue otherwise.

                Some would say Christmas lives because of commercialism.  We complain that the holiday has become too commerce-oriented, yet our 19th century ancestors were the folks who started that trend in the years following the Civil War.  Whether we like it not, our economy depends on Christmas, and that’s part of how Christmas lives.

                Perhaps the way the hallowed holiday continues on is because it is reborn every year.  Most holiday seasons are punctuated with some particular moment when the spirit of Christmas magically appears.

                When children line up on stages and begin to sing “Silent Night,” no one seems to notice that it’s off-key. 

When tinsel halos are perched atop children’s heads while fluttering wings are pinned to their backs, no one minds the devilish grin on the angel’s face. 

When bathrobes become shepherd’s attire and great grandpa’s long-unused cane comes out of the closet to become a shepherd’s staff, no one notices that there’s not a sheep in sight.

When children sit on a parent’s lap and drink in the tale of a certain night before Christmas, it becomes magical. 

When new generations gaze at shiny baubles on a Christmas tree for the first time, it’s a memorable sight to behold. 

When one reads or hears the story of old that begins at each telling, “And it came to pass…,” one is assured that the story will go on to swaddling cloths, angels, shepherds, and the eternally-tardy Magi.

When old familiar strains to the carols of season remind us to rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing while all is calm and bright in a lowly cattle shed and the good news is spread across the earth in story, song, and the ringing of bells.

These are the things that keep Christmas alive and help adults escape the numbing influences to renew the celebration that goes back centuries.

When the magic of Christmas arrives, it can be felt in the air, on the streets, it’s tucked in colorful envelopes arriving in the mail, in the greetings of nearly everyone, and even the most crazed among us become a little nicer. 

We see the magic of Christmas as we travel our community and see the way people decorate – even over-decorate – their homes and lawns.  It’s a reminder that even adults can be infected with an extra dose of joy to become almost giddy.

Yes, Christmas is also a time of gluttony and greed, when extravagant excesses also fill shopping lists to the point that too often it resembles the paganism and commercialism that Christmas purists love to hate.

Other parts of Christmas exist, too.  Just sit back and let the sounds of the season swirl about your head.  There, you’ll find that every dreamy Christmas is snow-laden, chestnuts are eternally roasting on open fires, and we’re reminded that at Christmas, all roads lead home, whether literally or in memory.  Gaze upon lights that enchant us to the point of being slightly out of focus, and then we remember that it can be a beautiful season after all.

What we all should strive for is to keep the Christmas spirit alive the rest of the year and not confined to just a few days.  Probably no one penned such a thought as eloquently as Henry van Dyke when he wrote his sermon well over 100 years ago and entitled it “Keeping Christmas.”  I’ll leave you with an excerpt from the message, and wish you a Merry Christmas.

“Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world; to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground; to see that your fellow-men are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy; to own that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life; to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness – are you willing to do these things even for a day?  Then you can keep Christmas.

“Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and the desires of little children; to remember the weakness and loneliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts; to try to understand what those who live in the same house with you really want, without waiting for them to tell you; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts, and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open – are you willing to do these things for even a day?  Then you can keep Christmas.

“Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world – stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death – and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love?  Then you can keep Christmas.

“And if you keep it for a day, why not always?”


Keeping Christ in Christmas

By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
December 4, 2014
A few days ago we entered that season on the calendar filled with holidays that have a variety of meanings for different people.  Thanksgiving is America’s own holiday encouraging us to pause and be thankful.  Followers of Judaism celebrate Hanukkah about the same time Christians prepare for a symbolic anniversary date marking Jesus’s birth.  Persons of African descent have introduced Kwanzaa between December 25 and January 1.  Of course, the entire world celebrates the arrival of the New Year.
With the holiday season also comes the annual controversy over the holiday greeting “Merry Christmas.”  We all receive greeting cards and advertisements reminding us to “Keep Christ in Christmas.”  Folks who use social media such as Facebook find their newsfeeds filled with threats of being “unfriended” for using a holiday greeting other than the time-honored “Merry Christmas.”  Shoppers threaten taking their business elsewhere should an employee issue a greeting other than the one they desire.  More fanatical adherents have even suggested using a holiday greeting other than “Merry Christmas” is un-Christian.
If we consider popular greetings over the years, “Merry Christmas” is undoubtedly the most one most frequently used but it hasn’t always been such.   You see, our ancestors thought of the word “merry” as meaning drunk or tipsy, thus most Christians frowned on the idea of wishing someone a drunken holiday celebrating the Prince of Peace. 
“Happy Christmas” was the standard in the 19th century because of the popularity of Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” that concludes with “Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!” 
In the midst of World War II, the movie “Holiday Inn” starring Bing Crosby, Marjorie Reynolds and Fred Astaire popularized Irving Berlin’s song “Happy Holidays.”  The movie was set at country inn which was open only on holidays and it also gave us treasured songs such as “White Christmas” and “Easter Parade.”
For a few years now, there has been a perennial campaign about the use of the abbreviated form of the word Christmas written as “Xmas.”  Without fail, there will be demands that Xmas not be used because it is “taking Christ out of Christmas.”  Those who have studied Greek will recall that X is the first letter of the word Christ, written in Greek, as XPESTES.  When Xmas became popular in the 19th century, users were thought to be sophisticated and well-educated.
Equally controversial as the variety of greetings is the thought that Christmas has become too commercialized.  Ironically, the oldest newspapers in the Jobe Publishing archives from the 1880’s are filled with ads not unlike those you see today and there are columns complaining that the holiday has become too commercialized.  In 1949, the well-known Kentucky author Allen M. Trout complained in his Christmas column that commercialization of the holiday was out of hand.  It seems some things haven’t changed, though our forms of marketing have evolved with technology.
Christ is a part of Christmas; after all, it observes Jesus’ birth.  At the same time, we are in a season of holidays with varying significance to different people.  Does wishing others a “Merry Christmas” make the day more holy?  Does wishing someone a “Merry Christmas” make the speaker a more faithful follower of Christ?  Realistically, all of the people filling the malls and stores, shopping online and partaking of the celebrations are not Christian. 
Perhaps what everyone needs to do is stop worrying about whether someone wishes us a “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays” or which greeting chain stores print on their signs and shopping bags.  No matter which greeting a person chooses, they are expressing good, kind wishes for your well-being.  Is a choice of words expressing the same thought really worth being angry about?
There are so many serious issues in our world that should upset us.  We need to be angry about officials who make decisions that are not in the best interest of our communities.  We need to be upset about greed and mismanagement of our country’s resources.  We should be angry that so many people are addicted to drugs or other harmful elements.  How about being angry that that we have members of our military who are hated, tortured, and killed by others simply because they are Americans?  We need to be angry that in this land of plenty we have citizens who are homeless, or hungry, or outcast. 
Christ has not been removed from Christmas.  Christ will always be in Christmas.  It’s not going to change.  You can find Christ anywhere, whether it’s in a church, automobile, a school play or sporting event, in the eyes of child, or even in the heart of your neighbor. 
Perhaps we can keep Christ in Christmas by re-reading the accounts of Christ’s birth in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and then flipping back to Matthew and allow Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount challenge us.  Perhaps we can keep Christ in Christmas by realizing that your hands and mine are really Christ’s hands in the world.  Maybe the best way to keep Christ in Christmas is to BE Christ in Christmas. 




And a little child shall lead them….
By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
November 19, 2014
For community newspaper editors attending multiple Veterans Day observances, each event contains something unique that becomes a valued memory.  Last week, I attended nine such events over a three day period.  By the time the eighth event was a memory and the Jobe Publishing newspapers were either on the press or about go on the press, the thought of one more Veterans Day program didn’t bring forth immense enthusiasm. 
As our publisher, Jeff Jobe, and I recalled all of the previous Veterans Day events we’d attended, it seemed easy to find excuses not to attend one more.  It would likely be very similar to the other events. It probably would have some of the same participants as the other events. We already had ample coverage of Veterans Day in our newspapers.  It felt rather comfortable to sit back and take a deep breath while attempting to convince ourselves that it was not necessary to attend one more program. 
Without uttering as much as a single word to one another, it seemed we both had the same thoughts running through our heads.  We had each been personally invited by more than one veteran to attend this particular program.  Then the thought that when our veterans were serving our country, they probably weren’t terribly enthusiastic about the monotonous rigors of active duty while away from their homes and families.  They probably would have enjoyed heat or air conditioning or a space free of biting insects, not to mention bullets or bayonets.  They probably would have enjoyed being at home, working in a comfortable office, or tending crops or cattle on their farms back at home. 
With such thoughts filling our heads while still never discussing what we were thinking, we each rose from our seats while grabbing our jackets and telling one another that we’d better get going.  The Veterans Day program was not the largest that we attended but the students and their teachers were full of enthusiasm.  It was heart-warming to see students stand with pride as their fathers and grandfathers were introduced to a cheering student body. 
Near the end of the event the full assembly was dismissed to the front lawn of the school for a 21-gun salute.  As we walked along beside the students, one young boy tugged at my shirt sleeve wanting to ask me a question.  “Mister:  were you in the Army?”  He was obviously disappointed when he learned that I was not in the Army.  He explained that he wanted to meet someone who had been in the Army because, "I'm a big fan of the Army!"
As the DAV offered a 21-gun salute in honor of America’s veterans, I thought of the boy wanting to meet an Army veteran.  In a matter of seconds, I spotted my friend, Army veteran Billy Houchens, and as soon as he'd finished his duty of playing Taps, I introduced the two and stepped away.  I was lucky enough to be holding a camera with which I could capture the magical moment at which a young boy got to meet an Army soldier.  Simultaneously, a dedicated veteran got to meet an enthusiastic young American who revered him for all the right reasons. 
If only we could all become like a child once again, we could truly honor America’s veterans as they so richly deserve.  




Here’s to the losers, the winners, and all who voted
By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
November 6, 2014
If you think this column is about a specific candidate in Tuesday’s General Election, you will be disappointed, perhaps surprised, because it’s not.  You see, this commentary is being written on Sunday afternoon, more than two days before the polls close and the votes are tallied.  All of the Jobe Publishing newspapers are being assembled on our regular schedule with the exception of the front pages to be added in the wee hours of the morning in order to bring you the election results. If you’re trying to learn about who won or lost, turn to page one and you’ll find the answers. 
This has possibly been one of the most unusual years in the history of Jobe Publishing because the company owner chose to seek elected office.  Running for office alters how a business in this situation operates.  We long ago made a commitment to the notion that there could be no distinction between one candidate and another.  In other words, do unto to others as you would have them do unto you.  Adhering to this commitment has caused more than a few lively conversations, some sleepless nights, and some extraordinary efforts to be fair and balanced.  
Whether winning or losing on Tuesday, every individual who bravely filed to run for office deserves some credit.  It’s scary to run for office and if you don’t know why it’s scary, you haven’t been paying attention to the myriad attack ads filling our mailboxes, airwaves, and computer screens for weeks.  In today’s world, you will be examined, researched, investigated, and discussed; if there’s something negative in your past, you can be sure it will be brought out.  If a negative message can’t be proven or is just simply false, you can be assured the rumor mill will be actively engaged in a whisper campaign to spread poison. 
Running for office requires dedication if you put yourself before the voters by participating in community activities.  Candidates find their family calendars filled with events.  Weekdays, weeknights, and every weekend for months is filled with not just an occasional event, but many.  Community newspaper editors could give candidates a few pointers because we already know what it’s like to realize your Saturday has perhaps seven events consuming your day and night.
Most of the community events beckoning candidates involve food.  Candidates belly up to the breakfast table as many as three times on some Saturday mornings.  When lunchtime arrives, you can be sure there will be barbequed something-or-other on the menu.  Depending on the season of the year, the evening hours bring fish fries in warm-weather followed by chili in cool-weather months. Political candidates and their families should prepare to add the “Election 11” pounds to their girth before the voters get to the polls. 
For candidates on the move, the potential weight increase can be offset by walking the streets to knock on doors.  One political wag once said if a candidate didn’t wear holes in the soles of his shoes during a campaign season, he’s probably not doing enough campaigning.  
Individuals seeking office learn many things during the process, the most significant being that not everyone wishes you well.  Everyone has a circle of influence and one of the goals of a campaign is to constantly increase that circle by inspiring others to join the team and share their influence.  It’s a daunting task that can put any candidate on an emotional roller coaster ride filled with many peaks and valleys.
The peaks experienced by candidates include deeper friendships, new acquaintances, expressions of approval, heightened reputation, moments of happiness, and honing one’s people skills and knowledge of issues.  By contrast, the valleys can be depressing and filled with disappointment, daily fatigue, painful jabs, embarrassment, and sometimes outright rejection.  In short, running for office takes guts and perseverance; it is not for the faint of heart. 
Losing an election does not doom a candidate to future failure.  In fact, some of our country’s most admired leaders lost elections – Kentucky’s own Henry Clay, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Hubert Humphrey, Ronald Reagan, and the list could go on and on.  For some who lose elections, the final vote tally is the end of a political career but that doesn’t mean you didn’t perform a noble service.  Whether you won or lost, you gave voters a choice in our country’s political system.
Finally, if you lost your bid for elected office on Tuesday, show your community that you can accept the outcome with dignity.  Let your attitude be a revelation of your character. 
To the winners, let me repeat the previous sentence.  Let your attitude be a revelation of your character.  Your challenges have just begun.  In a few short weeks you must embrace the position you sought.  The people are depending on you to serve our communities with honesty, integrity, and sincerity.  Honor those who placed their confidence in you by serving our communities in a way that will benefit all and give us pride in your service.


What a difference a day makes
By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
This week marks the 13th anniversary of a day that changed America and etched a horrible memory in our minds.  September 11, 2001 has joined other moments in time that nearly any American will never forget, taking its place alongside December 7, 1941 and November 22, 1963.  Ask anyone where they were and what they were doing and you will hear a vivid recounting of the day terrorists attacked our country.
September 11 taught America that assuming our country was secure from terror was a foolish thought and introduced us to what others around the world live with daily.  
That early autumn day proved that prayer cannot be regulated; there was plenty of it going on in schools, government offices, courthouse lawns, and street corners and no one thought to complain.  Fourteen years ago, debate raged about the display of the Ten Commandments on public property, but on that fateful Tuesday, Americans were recalling the edict about killing.
We were reminded on that day of what’s really important.  We learned that the repairman being late wasn’t that important after all.  We learned that traffic delays are not life-changing and your favorite television show being pre-empted was not a serious concern. 
On that storied day, people went to work as usual with little thought that they might not live to go home.  In a few short hours, thousands of people died while innocently going about their lives.  To our dismay, we saw news accounts of people celebrating death in America.
The day before September 11, parents scolded children about homework not being completed and rooms not being neat and tidy.  Parents who usually worried about ferrying their children to after-school activities couldn’t get to them fast enough and keep them close in the comfort of home.
September 11 rang a bell reminding us that, no matter how skilled, athletes are not heroes.  That day showed us what true heroes looked like.
We were reminded that this is America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, and we all have a role in keeping it that way. 
Let’s not forget the lessons we learned and what a difference a day can make.



Marion exemplified service to others
By Sam Terry
Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
           The death of Glasgow City Council member Jim Marion has left a leadership void in local government and in our community.  With thirty years of service as a Council member, Marion ably fulfilled the role of experienced leader who routinely shared his knowledge with his fellow Council members, city employees, and the public.  In years of observing Marion in action, his modus operandi was apparent:  he would listen to all points of view, quietly form his opinion, and deftly maneuver to help others understand his position.  His point of view, combined with his unmatched experience in city government, made Marion a leader others looked to for guidance. 
While Marion took his elected position in local government quite seriously, he had the uncanny ability to know when a healthy dose of levity was needed to lighten the mood when tempers flared and differences of opinion erupted.  In fact, an observer of our local government meetings could expect to hear a helpful bit of appropriate humor delivered in Marion’s signature drawl at the moment it was most needed.
To recount the many good things Jim Marion helped to accomplish for our city would be an exhausting task.  His record and his example proclaim his devotion to Glasgow and its citizens. If something positive for the community was under consideration, Marion would always be found at the forefront doing his part to make an idea become a reality.  In short, he was exactly the type elected official every city council needs and every community covets. 
May we not soon forget the example of Jim Marion in making Glasgow a better place for everyone.

Celebrating Bruce Aspley’s Plaza Theatre

By Sam Terry
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
Managing Editor
August 14, 2014
Eighty years ago this month Glasgow businessman Bruce Aspley saw his dream of a first-rate movie theatre come to fruition with the opening of the now-historic Plaza Theatre.  Aspley had been in the moving picture show business for several years operating the Trigg Theatre, Glasgow’s second such venue, the first being The Lion which began show moving picture shows in 1912.
Aspley’s dream incorporated state-of-the-art amenities for 1934 - a water-based cooling system that enveloped movie goers with chilled air on hot summer nights, the feel of a Mediterranean courtyard with glowing lamps in window sills while stars twinkled and clouds slowly moved across a nighttime sky.  The Plaza was for years the largest venue in Barren County and it was used for more than just movies – plays, concerts, and pageants filled the stage above an orchestra pit where musicians could provide live musical accompaniment if the entertainment called for it.
Bruce Aspley passed along his love of entertainment to his son, Walter who was familiarly known as “Jigger” to virtually everyone, who made it his life’s mission to entertain the people of south central Kentucky.  The family later opened the now-demolished Star Drive-in Theatre and even later the more modern cinema theatres.  Aiding the Aspley men were their capable wives and children who truly made entertaining our community their business.
Bruce Aspley would likely feel right at home if he walked into the renovated Plaza Theatre today where most of the original features remain intact and continue to keep patrons spellbound.  Aspley was the creator of Glasgow’s most recognizable cultural icon and he deserves immense credit for his vision and determination.
Happy anniversary to the Plaza and all who have played a role in its storied past.


Only in Kentucky
By Sam Terry
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
Managing Editor
August 6, 2014

Saturday’s 134th edition of the St. Jerome’s Catholic Church Picnic in the quaint, 500-person, no-stoplight town of Fancy Farm, officially opened the political campaign season with about 90 days remaining until the November 4 General Election.  Technically a church fund raiser featuring bingo and a variety of attractions, the legendary affair has earned its place as the late summer version of the Kentucky Derby with politicians replacing the horses and barbeque replacing the mint juleps.  By the first Saturday of August, the Derby’s belles have traded their eye-catching hats for t-shirts promoting their candidate of choice, usually defined by the recent trend of associating red with Republicans and blue with Democrats. 

The speech-making at the Fancy Farm Picnic is one of the last remnants of Kentucky politics as it used to be.  It’s about the only place you’ll see a candidate with his long sleeves rolled up because it’s hot rather than rolled up because it gives the appearance of working hard (you never know when a photo opportunity might present itself).  It’s also one of the last venues where nearly every candidate will be seen wearing a sweat-soaked shirt and looking slightly disheveled – you know, like real people – and no one is offended.
Fancy Farm has become one of the last places that politicians – those in office, those seeking office, and those dreaming of running for office – can be seen face-to-face with voters in a somewhat uncontrolled atmosphere.  In the sparse shade of a metal-roofed pavilion, thousands of cheering supporters are forced to listen carefully for the latest political zinger – there’s no instant replay on the scene at Fancy Farm – and paying attention to what’s said becomes more important in order to join the throng in either cheering or booing the speaker of the moment.
Last Saturday’s annual event attracted a record-breaking crowd and among them was a record number of national media representatives, some of whom were charmed by the spectacle and appreciated Kentucky’s unique political personality.  Others weren’t so kind, describing the event as “The Gong Show” meets “Hee Haw.”   I couldn’t help but wonder what that writer would’ve thought of the renowned former Gov. A.B. “Happy” Chandler who mused that voters were “a peculiar people.  We are for the underdog, no matter how much of a dog he is.”  I wish some of those visitors could have experienced Alben W. Barkley, John Sherman Cooper, Louie B. Nunn, Julian Carroll, Wendell Ford, and Gatewood Galbraith from years past.
I wonder what the unknowing visitors would have thought of Republican Edwin P. Morrow and Democrat Augustus O. Stanley as they battled to become Kentucky’s Governor in 1915.  On more than one tour, they arrived in the same car, stayed in the same hotel, verbally shredded one another while speaking, and then left town as friends.  They were also known to sample a good amount of whiskey along the way and on one occasion Morrow wowed the crowd with his oratorical skills, but Stanley who’d had too much fire water rose to speak with his head swimming and his knees buckling as he dashed to the back of the platform to vomit.  Certainly embarrassed but never at a loss for words, Stanley stepped to the podium to say, “Gentlemen, I beg you to excuse me.  Every time I hear Ed Morrow speak, it makes me sick of my stomach.”  Stanley moved into the Governor’s Mansion soon after and Morrow became his successor in 1919. 
Unfortunately, Fancy Farm speech-making has become like most American political campaigns in which speakers hold tightly to lines carefully chosen in advance and delivered more as a performance than a person having a conversation.  In years past, audience members anxiously waited for blistering quips and humorous comparisons delivered in rapid-fire succession; today, the quips tend to be somewhat homogenized and never off the cuff.  More than a few speakers last Saturday appeared so highly rehearsed that they feared getting off their planned commentary.  Sadly, it illustrated that we’ve lost some of the charm that has made Kentucky politics legendary.
In years past, most candidates embraced the opportunity to work the crowd, shake hands, pose for photos, kiss the babies, and most importantly, ask for votes.  Unfortunately modern candidates tend to arrive in sleek SUV’s or luxury motor-coaches where they pass their time awaiting just the right moment to appear in public.  All part of a well-orchestrated plan, star candidates leave their private confines on cue as they step into the scene like a rock star on tour.  When their allotted time to speak has past, more than a few quietly slip off stage and prepare to depart rather than sticking around to campaign in person.
Last weekend, just as in the past, a listener wasn’t likely to be swayed to vote for a candidate based on what was said from the podium.  From the appearance of the roaring crowd, everyone knew their chosen candidate long before they began their journey to Fancy Farm.  Unfortunately, today’s politics tend to be heavily influenced by lobbyists, specials interests, and big money interests each trying to promote their anointed candidate.  Attack ads and push polling efforts attempt to influence voters with outlandish misconceptions and innuendo.  At the end of the day, arguing to change someone’s political opinion is about as effective as convincing someone their baby isn’t cute.
As Kentucky poet James H. Milligan ended his famous poem, “In Kentucky,” wrote, “The landscape is the grandest and politics the damnedest - in Kentucky.”



Keeping the flame of America alive
By Sam Terry
Jobe Publishing Managing Editor
May 28, 2014
Our country has just observed one of its unique traditions which got its start in the dark days of the Civil War when our land was bitterly torn apart.  Memorial Day, or the 30th of May, was set aside nearly 150 years ago to honor the war dead who defended our collective land.  Towns, both large and small, hosted services of all types to honor our heroes, some enhanced with toe-tapping renditions of America’s military marches and other patriotic tunes and passionate speakers reminding us of the sacrifices of the past.  The graves of our veterans, from the Revolutionary War to the present and reaching from one end of the country to the next (and many in other countries), were dutifully marked with flags.
Over the course of the past weekend, I attended three distinctly different Memorial Day services. At the Glasgow program Bob Cary delivered his keynote address, reminding us to never forget.  A couple of days earlier, Butler County residents honored a Revolutionary War hero with a historical marker.  All the while, families scattered over the countryside to visit the burial places of family members in addition to our military, to decorate graves with flowers and remember. 
While Memorial Day is sometimes overshadowed by activities marking the approach of summer, the holiday is perhaps the most important for passing the American torch from one generation to another.  Thanksgiving brings families together, but Memorial Day allows us to recall our past and share the tradition with younger generations. 
In my own experience, Memorial Day was a favorite because it allowed me to learn history by visiting the cemetery.  My paternal grandfather was the keeper of the flame who insisted that we decorate the graves of all deceased family members with flowers cut from the yard.  In keeping with the original method of decorating graves, flowers were simply placed on the grave and there were no elaborate arrangements.  As a child this ritual enabled me to read the engraved names and ask about the person memorialized in stone.  Back at home, I gathered family photo albums and began matching the names with faces and writing down the stories I heard about each person, thus beginning a decades-long dedication to history.
My maternal great aunt Margarett was the keeper of the flame on that side of the family.  She approached Memorial Day with the precision of a military commander.  Relatives of all sorts were enlisted to gather fresh-cut flowers and create arrangements with attention to the personal color and floral preferences of the deceased.  Once the car was loaded, the chase was on for the day-long trek through south central Kentucky.   When one geographic area had been covered, the ritual was repeated until all parts of the family had been covered as we intermittently travelled into every surrounding county.
While Aunt Margarett’s Memorial Day routine was considered an endurance test by some participants, it was one of the most important things she contributed to relatives of varying degrees.  The ritual of Memorial Day passed along knowledge of where our people had lived, loved, worked, and finally where they were buried.  With every grave there was a tale to reveal the personality of the person and their unique story.  Those Decoration Day journeys became treasured moments that live on in memory.
No doubt, every family had a keeper of the flame who did similar things to observe Memorial Day.  While never recognizing what they were doing, these ardent observers of Memorial Day were keeping the flame of their family burning brightly as they imparted the past to new generations.  Too frequently we fail to realize that as the stories of our families are passed down, we are handing down the story of America – we are passing the torch to a new generation.
All of the older generation of family flame keepers who passed along history are now resting in their burial plots having completed their task.  New flame keepers have taken up the mission of recalling the past and sharing it with others.  Over the weekend I observed this scene dozens of times.  It was meaningful to see a grandfather armed with flags to decorate veterans’ graves explain to his young grandson what a “veteran” was and help him place the flag in the correct spot. Nearby, I witnessed generations of families telling stories and remembering the people who were part of their lives.  I realized at that moment that because of traditions such as Memorial Day, America will remain the land of the free and the home of the brave, provided the flame keepers remember their duty.
While reviewing my photos from the event I discovered that when I photographed the young boy placing flags, I had unknowingly made a photo at the gravesite of one of my grandfather’s Class of 1929 schoolmates.   I never knew Herschel “Fanny” Austin, but I knew a bit of his story because it had been passed to me along with a photograph of him made in Italy during World War II.  The older photo captured a chance meeting of three young Barren County men while serving our country more than 70 years ago.  More colorfully, I recalled the story of the Glasgow High School football team that was runner-up in the state championship game of 1928.  After the big game held in Lexington, “Fanny” chose not to return to Glasgow aboard the chartered train, instead he paid $2.50 to hitch a ride in the rumble seat of new Chrysler.


Lessons learned in a Kentucky tobacco patch 
By Sam Terry
Jobe Publishing Managing Editor
May 22, 2014
In years past nearly every young person who grew up with a connection to a farm in south central Kentucky spent some time in the tobacco patch.  By my own recollection, some of the best lessons in life were given under blue skies surrounded by what was then Kentucky’s top cash crop.  In the past few decades, the significant role of tobacco has diminished for many families as the crop is raised by fewer farm families.
Too many young Kentuckians of today have missed out on some valuable lessons as they participate in the evolution of a year’s tobacco crop from the old-fashioned burning of plant beds to eventually end with the melodic chant of an auctioneer in a local warehouse.  In years gone by, farm families worked together through the process and along the way, created memories to last a lifetime.  When there weren’t enough workers to accomplish the task, neighbors and relatives frequently pitched in.
If you are of a certain age, you remember the work of burning a plant bed in which to sow tobacco seeds, a process that was later replaced with chemical gases that were eventually replaced with hydroponic methods of obtaining young seedlings.  There were lessons to be learned pulling young plants in preparation for being set in freshly-worked soil. 
Kentuckians of all ages heard stories worthy of sharing while riding a tobacco setter being pulled by a slow-paced tractor moving in straight lines to yield beautiful rows that would make any farmer and his family proud.  It wasn’t unusual for school-aged children to miss a few days of school in order to get the crop out, in fact, it was standard procedure for many Kentucky families.  I dare say that some of the lessons learned on those days might have proven more valuable than the ones being taught in their classrooms.
When spring days gave way to the hot and muggy days of summer, many young Kentuckians spent their days with a hoe in hand chopping weeds along those precious plants.  When the plants produced suckers, they endured the sticky residue of the tobacco plants.  When the striking pink blooms appeared, those same folks again waded through the then-tall plants to top the tobacco.
It was during the tobacco-growing process that youngsters learned about worry and came to realize that there are some things beyond human control.  Humankind found ways to control insects, but there was the ever-present worry about disease or hail storms that could devastate a family’s crop in a short amount of time.
Finally, in the waning days of summer, young Kentuckians returned to the tobacco patch to bend the huge plants and with a smart whack, cut it from now-thick trunks before spearing it onto wooden tobacco sticks.  Anyone who participated in the cutting of tobacco quickly learned the dangers of tobacco knives and spears and more than a few still have the scars to prove the lesson they learned.
The most agile young Kentuckians shimmied up wooden poles and across tiers in tobacco barns to methodically hang the prized plants for curing as yet another part of the process.  By the time Thanksgiving arrived, provided weather conditions were correct, tobacco would be sufficiently cured and ready for stripping by hand in yet another series of lessons to be mastered. 
Soon, it would be off to market buoyed with the hope of a good price per pound.  If a family was lucky, there would be enough money to pay off bills or loans, assure another semester at college, or perhaps give a special gift at Christmas.  Young men learned that the hopes of purchasing a first car or buying that special young lady a diamond ring were tied up in the once-green leaves of tobacco.   
Tobacco was the king of crops in Kentucky just as cotton was for our neighbors to the south.  Tobacco provided for our families’ needs, paid for our education long before scholarships and financial aid packages became the norm, and it taught everyone about life.  
Last week, the Human Rights Watch released a report declaring that youngsters working in tobacco was a health hazard.  They cited details from 140 young people working in tobacco in Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.  The group noted one young man’s report that “conditions are inhumane and they should improve them.” 
Margaret Wurth, the co-author of the report wrote that “the U.S. has failed America’s families by not meaningfully protecting child farmworkers from dangers to their health and safety, including on tobacco farms.”  Wurth called on the Obama administration to endorse regulations that make it clear that work on tobacco farms is hazardous for children. 
Wurth’s group later announced that they would encourage state and federal legislation that would prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from doing work that involves touching tobacco.  In addition to complaints that youngsters were exposed to nicotine and various irritants, working in the crop was risky because it involved using sharp tools such as knives and spears, involved heavy lifting, and working at heights.
Perhaps our standards have changed, but I maintain that south central Kentucky tobacco farmers and the children they reared were rarely harmed by hard work to earn an honest living.  The life lessons taught in Kentucky tobacco patches helped produce some of our state’s most authentic individuals.  The monies earned raising tobacco provided well for Kentucky families.  Thousands of parents were able to help their children fulfill their dreams through education and earned opportunities because of tobacco. 
Perhaps what is missing from this scenario is the fact that none of the individuals expressing concern about young people working in tobacco actually grew up in a Kentucky tobacco patch and they unfortunately did not learn about life and hard work that is slightly different from the descriptions found in textbooks.

A grandmother’s lesson in American Civics
By Sam Terry
Jobe Publishing Managing Editor
May 7, 2014
After the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, the merry month of May is one of our most tradition-filled on the calendar with repeated opportunities to make memories and recall people and events influencing our lives.  Those without a Kentucky connection have trouble understanding our Derby traditions as we roll out the red carpet to welcome the world to the Commonwealth for our annual party filled with fine old traditions. 
Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May brings to mind treasured memories of our mothers, grandmothers, and women who filled maternal roles in our lives.  Prom season outfits young belles and beaux to dot the landscape, dressed like never before.  While most wouldn’t consider Election Day a holiday, for many it is just that as political rhetoric fills the air in highly competitive races for public office.  The latter part of the month yields graduation exercises for students of all ages and brings lofty thoughts of good wishes for the future success as graduates embark on a new phase of life.  The end of May brings Memorial Day when we remember those no longer with us, particularly those who have defended our country.
For me, May brings to mind a number of lessons taught by my late grandmother, Dorothy Alexander Matthews, a proud resident of the tiny village of Goodnight in northern Barren County.  While she never enjoyed the Kentucky Derby within the confines of Churchill Downs, she made a point of knowing about each of the celebrated horses and reveled in the traditions associated with the day.  She enjoyed Mother’s Day with her children and grandchildren but I had the privilege of helping her plant flowers for her front porch each year.  During that May ritual she would remind me, “Now, I want a red geranium because that was my mother’s favorite,” and since her death, I find that I quietly continue her tradition by having a red geranium honoring a woman who died years before I was born.
My grandmother was one of the most patriotic individuals I have known.  Her patriotism for our country stemmed partly from having four brothers - Jack, Robert O., A.B., and Wayne - who scattered around the world as part of America’s armed forces during World War II.  She spoke with great admiration of her brothers and their service to our country, consistently noting that all four returned home safely, though battle scarred.  My grandmother’s patriotism caused her to never miss an opportunity to honor our veterans with her attendance at Memorial Day and Veterans Day observances.  On an almost-daily basis, she proudly displayed her flag as a badge of honor for our country.
Election Day was important to my grandmother and she would remind you that women were granted the right to vote in 1921, the year of her birth.  She would also let it be known that she would never miss an opportunity to vote for the candidates of her choice.  To her, it was a privilege and a responsibility to vote at every opportunity.  While others considered their attire for Derby festivities, prom, and graduation, my grandmother brought forth her favorite brooch for its semi-annual appearance in mid-May a few days before Election Day.
That pin would become a conversation piece as people commented on it in the checkout line at the grocery or the pharmacy, the doctor’s office waiting room, and the monthly meeting of the Jefferson Homemakers.  The brooch had no colorful stones or intricate designs, but it simply bore the word VOTE in large red-white-and-blue letters.  My grandmother taught her own version of American Civics using a simple, costume jewelry pin as a means to connect to people and encourage them to join her in honoring our country by voting. 

Nearly 15 years have passed since my grandmother cast her last vote and the memorable brooch rests in the hands of a family member who also has fond memories of how one Barren County woman reminded everyone to be a proud and responsible American.


Are you a passionate American?
By Sam Terry
Jobe Publishing Managing Editor
April 30, 2014
In the process of gathering local news each week for our newspapers, our staff does a lot of listening.  We hear many conversations and listen to comments and presentations in dozens of public meetings.  Without fail, one of the common threads that runs through most of these experiences is the future of our local communities, our state, and our nation.  Now that we’re in the political season, we hear a lot of talk about our future.

In those talks, we hear about our country (or county, or city, or state) being on the wrong track.  People on the street talk about it almost as much as they comment on weather conditions.  It seems to be a subject on a lot of minds and that causes us to ponder the question of what can be done if everyone seems to be dissatisfied.  The next question that comes to mind is what people are willing to do about the issue.

In just over two weeks, Kentucky citizens will have an opportunity to let their feelings be known when the polls open at 6 a.m. on May 20.  On that day, Kentuckians will be able to cast their vote for the candidates of their choice in their respective political parties to determine who will be on the ballot in November. 

What many Americans fail to remember is the privilege that a lot of men and women have fought - and some died - for in order for us to be able to step into the voting booth and cast a ballot.  Sadly, thousands of local citizens will choose to ignore their right to have a say in who governs us.  The bottom line is that we have more people who will choose to complain about those who are elected but who will not take a few minutes to vote for the candidates of their choice. 

Voting comes down to being accountable as an American.  Voting is not just a right or a privilege, it’s one of the basic things that makes our country unique and we forget our responsibility when we fail to vote.  Looking at the figures for the five counties served by Jobe Publishing – Barren, Butler, Hart, Metcalfe, and Monroe Counties – the numbers are sadly revealing.  The last year there was a Primary Election in which local offices were on the ballot was 2010.  In the five counties there were 63,280 people registered to vote.  The rest of the story is that only 24,676 did so.  That means that nearly 39,000 people didn’t vote.

How can we claim to be passionate about our country and its future if more than half of our registered voters choose not to vote?  In each of our counties, patriotism abounds.  We proudly fly our flag and pledge allegiance to it, we sing our national anthem, we thank God for our freedom, and we talk about what a great and patriotic nation we are.  Yet, more than half forgot to do one of the most basic things that makes our country unique. 

Now, it’s easy to give excuses such as the weather - whether it’s too hot, too cold, too rainy – and the excuse of being too busy is thrown out often.  For many, a lot more thought is given to how to make the time to watch certain ball teams play than taking a few minutes to vote.  We all must remind ourselves that democracy is not a spectator sport – it’s a hands-on, participatory sport – and everyone gets to play. 

No matter what your political affiliation, we all have a responsibility to vote.  We may embrace the campaigns of our chosen candidates and we may not think too highly of other candidates.  Either way, we are compelled to be passionate Americans and exercise our right to vote.   

May 20th is not far away and a few days later we will gather in cemeteries and parks to observe Memorial Day and express thanks to our veterans for keeping our country safe and ensuring our right to vote.  Sadly, some of those who will speak with great emotion will have forgotten the best thing they could do to honor those persons.  This year, this election, show your passion for America’s future by honoring those who fought for our freedom by exercising your privilege.

Please go vote.


Heartfelt Heroes

By Sam Terry
Jobe Publishing Managing Editor
April 16, 2014

Every community has them:  unsung heroes who go above and beyond the call of duty as a matter of habit.  The Glasgow and Barren County community has been blessed for 46 years by a group of women and men who fit this description every day of the week.  The T.J. Samson Hospital Auxiliary was initially organized by a group of women interested in helping others through our local health care facility.  Since that time, the makeup of the group has grown to include men who are among the hundreds of members who have made a difference by their work.

During last week’s National Volunteer Week observance, the group gathered for their annual awards banquet courtesy of the hospital’s board of directors.  Few people in our community realize the scope of work the group undertakes – they staff hospital information desks, deliver newspapers and magazines to patients, raise money through their gift shop, and so much more.  They are available to lend a helping hand, a cheerful smile, a kind word, and sometimes even a comforting hug or prayer if the situation calls for such.  They perform all of these tasks with little fanfare and no desire for accolades.

Another facet of the Auxiliary’s work includes sharing their hard-earned money to help projects that make a difference.  Last week President Jan Stuart announced contributions to more than a half-dozen worthwhile efforts.  They gave $1,500 to the Dolly Parton Imagination Reading Program that provides local children with a book each month from birth to age 5.  They donated money to the Glasgow Housing Authority’s backpack program that sends a backpack full of nutritious food home with 190 local children each Friday to make sure they have adequate food until the next school week begins. 

The group made a donation to the hospital’s Palliative Care Program to help provide a comforting remembrance to families whose loved ones have been served by the program.  The members pledged money to be used for a facelift of the family sitting room in the Skilled Nursing Unit so that it will be more comfortable for patients and their visitors. Further, they contributed $2,000 to Community Medical Care to help provide medications and services for the elderly and working low income residents of Barren County.

When you’re a patient or visitor at the hospital you may have viewed the C.A.R.E. Channel on the facility’s televisions.  The broadcast of that channel costs nearly $2,500 per year and it is paid for annually by the Auxiliary.  If you’re a patient in the surgical unit and you enjoy the comfort of a warm blanket, you can credit the Auxiliary with buying the equipment that provided it. 

The Auxiliary also donated over $15,000 to the hospital, bringing their total gifts back to the community to $25,000 this year.  To give a better perspective on the work of the group, consider that their 40 active members donated 10,588 hours.  If they were paid the average of $7.85 per hour, their work would have cost over $83,000.  Since 1968, the volunteers have given 556,498 hours helping others; if they had been paid a modest wage, their work would have cost $4.3 million.

The work of the T.J. Samson Community Hospital Auxiliary is significant and it betters our community and those who call this place “home.”  On behalf of a grateful community, we offer our heartfelt thanks.



Right vs. Wrong

By Sam Terry
Jobe Publishing Managing Editor
March 27, 2014

"Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it." - William Penn.

As the home-stretch of the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly comes into view, the words of William Penn continue to hold true nearly 300 years after his death.  With less than 10 workings days to go, our legislators have proven to be somewhat unproductive while taxpayers foot the bill for consideration of things such as naming Kentucky the “Houseboat Capital of the World” and other weighty matters.

Political pundits around the state agree that the current session has been particularly lacking in accomplishments.  Most also agree that one of the key problems is legislators’ worry about winning re-election instead of focusing on moving Kentucky forward.  Lest you think only one party is the culprit, rest assured, it’s not uncommon among both of the major parties.

Kentucky’s current statute creates an unusually long time period between the filing deadline to seek office and the May Primary Election – 119 days.  In years such as this, around 16 days passed between the opening of the session and the filing deadline which resulted in little action as legislators waited to see if they would have opposition and before voting on anything controversial.

Neither the Republican-controlled Senate nor the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives has shown much interest in considering compromise.  More realistically, there have been some slightly notorious efforts to declare political gains at the expense of one side or the other.  What we’ve seen is a lot of jostling for position and promotion of propaganda while holding the opposing party’s legislation hostage.

A storm cloud hovering over the marble confines of the Capitol is the possibility of Republicans gaining a majority in the House of Representatives for the first time in nearly a century.  While the outcome of the GOP “Flip the House” movement remains to be seen, Democrats appear to be taking it seriously with numerous backroom conversations about the need to raise a massive amount of money to counteract a Republican assault.

As a result, legitimate issues that need to be addressed, have not been.  For example, there was lackluster consideration of tax reform and dozens of other important issues.  The House insisted that it would not take up legislation to expand gambling and demanded that the Senate get that ball rolling.  Serious issues affecting Kentucky’s economic future have been buried in committee while others allowed to have a vote were the victim of strictly partisan votes.

In the meantime, our Kentucky Employees’ Retirement System which has 345,000 members who have an average pension of $22,000 a year at retirement, stands to rock the very foundation of the state’s finances.  The KERS is now the second most severely unfunded pension system in the United States with an unfunded liability of $17.6 billion and only 23% of the funds needed to meet obligations.  Of course, the people who have an obligation to fix the problem enjoy KERS pensions far beyond the average amount the rank-and-file retiree must live on.

What all of this comes back to is Penn’s comment above – “Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.”  It strikes at the reality of Kentucky’s void of statesmen that has been filled with men and women who are far more concerned about being re-elected and their personal financial gains.  Unfortunately, decisions made with little concern for Kentucky’s long-term good are the norm, while the short-term goals of November 4 take center stage.

Sadly, it is the people of Kentucky and the future of our state that is being sacrificed.

Shining stars in our community

By Sam Terry
Jobe Publishing Managing Editor
March 20, 2014

All too frequently we hear rumblings of how bad things are with talk about subjects ranging from the economy to elected officials to personal life choices.  If one digests a steady diet of negativity seasoned with gloom and doom, it’s easy to begin agreeing with the naysayers who manage to find fault with virtually anything.  If we simply look around and pay attention to events and people in our own community, we find that we have many good things happening in our midst.  Last week proved to be a memorable one with several notable accomplishments.

For example, our community is blessed with talented and dedicated young people.  The Glasgow High School Lady Scotties dribbled and dunked their way to the State Tournament where they made us proud by their evident sportsmanship and talent, traits they’ve displayed throughout the season.  Similarly, the Barren County Trojans Boys Basketball team competed for a Regional Title, an accomplishment in itself.  We’re not only proud of these students, but their coaches and families who’ve made their winning ways possible as well. 

Over the weekend, hundreds of area residents were entertained by another group of local young people:  the Barren County High School Drama Club.  These students sang and danced into the hearts of all who were fortunate enough witness one of the performances.   Anyone who was inside the school’s auditorium walked away astonished that a group of high school students didn’t just stage The Phantom of the Opera, they did it very well.  Kudos to each of these talented young people who left many humming a happy tune.

We should all be proud of groups that exist to help others and Barren County is blessed with many that fit the definition.  One group consistently helping others is the Community Soup Kitchen whose doors are open twice a week to share a nutritious meal with folks who need one.  If you haven’t stopped by the Bunche Community Center to observe the activity, you might be surprised to learn than more than 7,000 meals were prepared and served last year.  The organization continues to have needs such as canned goods, monetary donations, and willing volunteers to continue their efforts. 

Finally, we are proud to live in a community that remembers its past and honors those who’ve gone before us by correcting details of past lives.  We are grateful for thoughtful citizens such as W.S. Everett and Jerry Ream who took it upon themselves to correct the memorial for a local soldier who died nearly 70 years ago.  They worked to see that Capt. Edwin P. Barlow was memorialized with accuracy so that future generations will know the story.

It’s easy to become consumed with the notion that our community has a few deficiencies we would be happy to cast off.  The same can be said of any town in America.  But, if you’ll only look around and observe the everyday happenings in Glasgow and Barren County, you’ll find shining stars that illuminate what is best about our community.

Two Hiseville residents influenced the world of typewriting
By Sam Terry
Jobe Publishing Managing Editor

Barren County bid farewell last week to one of its citizens who quietly influenced hundreds of lives.  Emily D. Newberry lived a long a useful life totaling more than 101 years, most of them presiding over her late husband’s ancestral home and farm near Hiseville in northern Barren County. 

For those who attended Hiseville High School or its derivatives over time, Mrs. Newberry was fondly known as “Miss Emily” so that she was not confused with her equally popular sister-in-law, “Miss Carrie” W. Newberry who taught in the same building.  Their mutual sister-in-law was yet another “Miss Carrie” Newberry, an unclaimed treasure who was an educator at Western Kentucky University.

After getting her start in education by teaching in one room schools, “Miss Emily” was the sole teacher in the Business Department of Hiseville High School where she taught various courses over the years.  The most useful class in her repertoire was typing.  During her decades-long tenure, the world of typewriting evolved from manual typewriters that required users to rapidly move their fingers before quickly slapping the return lever to advance the paper to the next line.  Once the basic strokes were perfected, “Miss Emily” would begin the timed drills to increase speed and efficiency. 

“Miss Emily” taught you things like how to quickly center text on a line, how many spaces must be left vacant after a period, how to manually set tabs, and the easiest means of correcting both original copies and multiple carbon copies – and no one had heard of White-Out correction fluid at the time.  By the time she retired, “Miss Emily” was instructing students in making the most of electric typewriters that were nothing short of miracle machines that made typing faster and easier. 

One of the most unique lessons one had under “Miss Emily” was the story of how typing students all over America had a connection to Hiseville.  She would instruct her students to open their typing manuals to the cover page and note the name of the author:  D.D. Lessenberry.  For those unfamiliar with the story, Lessenberry was a Hiseville native who literally wrote the book about how to use a typewriter. 

An enterprising young fellow who earned a degree from Bowling Green Business College, Lessenberry realized that American students needed a uniform method for learning to type on the QWERTY keyboard.  He wrote and edited most of the major touch-typing manuals beginning in the 1920’s and his manuals were still widely used into the 1980’s.  If you learned to type in school, you likely used one of Lessenberry’s 20th Century Typewriting Manuals or its successors published by Southwestern Publishing.  He eventually taught at the University of Pittsburg where he made his home before retiring to Barren County until his death in 1988.

For those who were fortunate enough to have “Miss Emily” teach us how to type, thoughts of her kind and gentle disposition frequently come to mind as our fingers effortlessly glide across keyboards on computers, iPhones, and other technological wonders.  At the same time, all Barren Countians should have an appreciation that the keyboard designs we constantly use have a direct connection to one of our own.



When political opinion clouds fact
By Sam Terry
Jobe Publishing Managing Editor
 
The 43rd annual Barren County Lincoln Day Dinner was one of the more entertaining places to be in south central Kentucky last Saturday night.  The 400+ person crowd was as impressive as any political event – Republican or Democrat – held locally in modern memory.  Sitting elected officials dotted the landscape – and they all weren’t Republicans.  Candidates for office attended in all-time record numbers – nor were they all Republicans.  Yes, you read that correctly:  an event named in honor of Old Abe and aimed at promoting the Republican party – and there were more than a few Democrats in the room.  

This week’s edition of the Barren County Progress contains a front page story about the event. We’ve made every effort to present an accurate review of what was said, who said it, and why it mattered.  Just as we do in every news story, we strive to give the facts simply rather than lace them with opinions that are more appropriately the fodder for the coffee drinkers at the corner drugstore.  If you’ve read some other accounts of the Lincoln Day Dinner and the current state of the local GOP, you might have gotten an extra serving of opinion disguised as news.

Newspaper editors make a habit of reading what others write.  The exercise becomes much more interesting when you’ve attended the same event, sat a few feet apart, and then reading the stories, you wonder if you attended the same event.  Unlike recording devices that capture the proceedings, some writers candidly share suppositions as if they were facts.  There are presumed political allegiances that are “revealed” despite the fact they don’t exist. It’s all very entertaining - and disappointing if you just want to know what was said.
 
People love being “in the know” and being the “go to person” but those attributes take on a life of their own when politics enters the scenario.  We all know that adding politics to a story – written or spoken – immediately adds drama to what would likely be a slightly dull tale.

A couple of examples come to mind when comparing memory, the written musings of others, and the recordings that have no allegiance to anyone or any view.  According to one news story, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell’s name was never spoken by anyone behind the podium at Saturday night’s event.  Perhaps that writer was outside gazing at the moon, but more than 400 people clearly heard State Senator David Givens, wearing a suit displaying two McConnell campaign stickers, convey greetings on behalf of the Senator who was attending a similar event in Grayson County.

As if buoyed by the hoax that McConnell’s name was never spoken, the same writer reported that Givens, “usually aligned with McConnell,” specifically introduced a well-known Tea Party candidate seeking a seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives in neighboring Warren County.  That story then attempts to show Givens must surely be aligned with McConnell challenger, Bevin, because the Warren County candidate is an outspoken Bevin supporter.

Unfortunately, that writer missed the point made by Givens and he also failed to share the complete storyline of what Givens said.  The Senator urged attendees to support three specific candidates for the Kentucky House in the GOP attempt to balance the political makeup of that body.  Givens introduced each of the candidates by name and had them stand for recognition. The notion that conservatives have a chance to end a decades-long domination was a popular theme among all of the event’s speakers.

While several of the local leaders were showing tendencies toward Bevin, the Saturday night dinner was anything but a campaign event for the Senate challenger.  Party Chairman D.T. Froedge correctly admonished those who wish to draw lines in the sand that at the end of the May 20 Primary Election, the Republican Party will be united in support of the candidate of choice.  The notion that there is a split within the party stems from a whisper campaign rather than any sort of push by party officials acting in an official capacity.

Congressman Brett Guthrie summed it up correctly by commenting that there was a “debate within the party.”  Isn’t that what primary election campaigns are supposed to do?  Those who seek office present themselves as candidates, hopefully debate issues, and then the members of the party select their candidate for the November General Election.  This scenario is new to Barren County voters who have rarely had contested primaries outside of the Democratic Party.

Part of the uneasiness about Republicans having a multi-candidate primary stems from the long-standing mantra used by high school civics teachers and political pundits while registering new voters: “if you don’t register as a Democrat, you’ll never get to vote in a Primary Election.”  That scheme worked for several decades but today’s younger generation tends to thumb its nose at political tradition and register as they choose.  There was a time in Barren County that a person’s family name revealed not just their family pedigree but their political pedigree as well.  That is no longer the case. 

In my own family’s Democratic tradition, I’ve witnessed dozens of political events.  My first job after graduating from college was for the Kentucky Democratic Party Headquarters where I was trained to help candidates for the state legislature organize campaigns.  While it armed me with invaluable experience that I’ve used ever since, it also exposed me to the nuances of political undercurrents and how information can be manipulated.  Now, more than 25 years later and in the role of observing politics as a news editor while striving to be fair and balanced, those experiences have become even more valuable.  Rest assured readers, this newspaper will always work to give you a fair accounting of local politics.  




Let your pride shine
By Sam Terry
February 5, 2014
progress@jpinews.com

Pride is one of the greatest assets a community can possess.  People crave the opportunity to have pride in their little spot on earth.  Elected officials, Chamber of Commerce executives, and industrial recruiters constantly mention the pride they have in the people and places they promote.  Students and alumni love to share pride in their school’s achievements in the classroom and the sports arena.  Over the past several days Glasgow and Barren County have been blessed with a multitude of reasons everyone can have pride in our community.

One of our most noted reasons to have pride is the Glasgow Lady Scotties basketball team that broke records with every bounce of the ball to capture the Touchstone Energy All “A” Classic state tournament championship.  These talented young ladies have seized the attention of basketball fans everywhere.  To watch MVP Shalika Smith and All-Tournament Team players Emily Alexander, Breanna Glover, and Elli Bartley take control of the court will make your heart skip a beat.  We can’t wait to see the performance of the Lady Scotties in upcoming tournament play and we envision more championship trophies coming to the halls of Glasgow High School.

Meanwhile, the Barren County High School cheerleaders are perfecting their routine and packing their bags for Orlando, Florida where they will compete in the UCA National Cheerleading Competition – again.  Last Friday evening we had the privilege of attending a gala sendoff for these young ladies and gentlemen who constantly thrill audiences with their award-winning performances.  The group exudes pride in their performance and they instill that pride in everyone they represent.  We look forward to seeing this group return home sporting the coveted white jackets they are determined to win.

There are also individuals who cause us to have pride in our community.  Monday night’s Chamber banquet showcased the work of some people whose contributions to our community certainly instill pride. Bob Cary, recipient of the Sybil Leamon Volunteer of the Year award, grew up in this community, left us to pursue his career and upon retirement came back to us and he now devotes tremendous energy to doing good things.  While he would never claim credit for it, he deserves kudos for helping establish a couple of fine events - the South Central Kentucky Business Expo and the Barren County Ag Festival – that show off local pride in our business community and agriculture community.

Joan Edwards is another example of a person who brings pride to our community; she was named Administrative Professional of the Year on Monday night.  In today’s world, business managers frequently complain of employees lacking dedication to a job well done; every business should be lucky enough to employ someone of Joan’s professionalism and attention to detail.  Unlike most workers today, she has been at work for the same attorney for 48 years.

Barren County has always had pride in our heritage and one of the celebrated pieces of history has been Morrison Park Holiness Camp founded by the renowned Methodist preacher, Henry Clay Morrison.  Until a few years ago, the camp was in ruins – the grounds were overgrown and untended while the remaining buildings appeared destined to crumble and be forgotten.  That was the case until Gary Bewley’s pride in the place nudged him to begin cleaning up and gradually restoring the camp to a place everyone can enjoy for its beauty and history.  A kind and gentle man, Bewley dedicated his time, talents, and energy to the project that caused him to be named Outstanding Citizen of the Year.

Finally, our county seat of Glasgow was named #10 in a list of 15 Best Places in Kentucky by Movoto, a national online real estate brokerage.  While locals sometimes complain of little to do in our community, Movoto lauded our area for its many offerings, low cost of living, short commute times, and low crime rate.  What community would not have pride in such a recognition?

Like any community, we have a few blemishes that need some attention but when we consider examples like those mentioned above, we find that Glasgow and Barren County residents have many assets to fill us with pride.  

Ten ways to be a better Barren Countian in 2014

By Sam Terry
January 8, 2014

With the first week of the New Year behind us and visions of successfully kept resolutions vanished from our minds, we can turn to more reachable goals for 2014.  Perhaps a more meaningful objective for the months ahead would be embracing some of the assets within Barren County.   Here are ten ways to become a better part of our community in 2014.

  1. Get involved in at least one worthy cause that directly benefits our local community.   Every non-profit organization has needs and they are not all monetary.  Give of your time, talent, or energy.  Some worthwhile things that could use your help would include Community Medical Care, the Community Soup Kitchen, Habitat for Humanity, and BRAWA.
  2. Make a point to learn a little local history by visiting some of our unique historic sites such as Morrison Park on Highway 63, Bell’s Tavern in Park City, Fort Williams in Glasgow, or the South Central Kentucky Cultural Center.  You will always gain knowledge and develop appreciation for those who came before you.
  3. Take a hike in Barren County’s own natural wonderland, Brigadoon Nature Preserve, in southern Barren County. The natural beauty of untouched land will astound you as you get reacquainted with nature.
  4. Have lunch at one of the Barren County’s many country stores or Mom-and-Pop locally-owned restaurants where you’ll find tasty home-cooked food, interesting people, and lively conversation.
  5. Visit the Barren County Fair at Temple Hill in July and recall the agrarian roots that made Barren County thrive.  You’ll find great local kids showing their animals, beautiful young ladies competing in the pageants, a midway full of rides, and all sorts of down home entertainment. 
  6. Thank a veteran.  You don’t have to wait for a special day to express thanks for the men and women who have served our country.  Attend one of the Memorial Day programs held around the county, attend the national Midway Island Reunion to be held here in June, and attend at least one of the annual Veterans Day programs held throughout the county.
  7. Shop locally every chance you get.  Locally-owned small businesses helped make America great and their survival is up to us.  When you shop locally you help people right here in our hometown.  If you visit the Bounty of the Barrens Farmers Market, you’ll find an ever-changing variety of local products brought to you by local vendors.
  8. Take the time to visit a nursing home resident.  If you don’t personally know someone to visit, just ask the staff which resident might enjoy a friendly hello.  You’ll make someone’s day and you’ll be glad you made the effort.
  9. Be an informed voter.  Many of our ancestors fought to have the right to select the leaders of our communities and country; don’t minimize their efforts by shunning the privilege.  Learn about the candidates for office, find out what the issues are, and go vote.
  10. Take in some of the many cultural arts events in our community from the annual open-air concerts on the square, to stage productions by the Far Off Broadway Players, to the programs of the Glasgow Musicale, there is always something to entertain.


Keeping Christ in Christmas
By Sam Terry
December 24, 2013
A few weeks ago we entered that season on the calendar filled with holidays that have a variety of meanings for different people.  Thanksgiving is America’s own holiday encouraging us to pause and be thankful.  Followers of Judaism celebrate Hanukkah about the same time Christians prepare for a symbolic anniversary date marking Jesus’s birth.  Persons of African descent have introduced Kwanzaa between December 25 and January 1.  Of course, the entire world celebrates the arrival of the New Year.
With the holiday season also comes the annual controversy over the holiday greeting “Merry Christmas.”  We all receive greeting cards and advertisements reminding us to “Keep Christ in Christmas.”  Folks who use social media such as Facebook find their newsfeeds filled with threats of being “unfriended” for using a holiday greeting other than the time-honored “Merry Christmas.”  Shoppers threaten taking their business elsewhere should an employee issue a greeting other than the one they desire.  More fanatical adherents have even suggested using a holiday greeting other than “Merry Christmas” is un-Christian.

If we consider popular greetings over the years, “Merry Christmas” is undoubtedly the most one most frequently used but it hasn’t always been such.   You see, our ancestors thought of the word “merry” as meaning drunk or tipsy, thus most Christians frowned on the idea of wishing someone a drunken holiday celebrating the Prince of Peace. 

“Happy Christmas” was the standard in the 19th century because of the popularity of Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” that concludes with “Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!” 

In the midst of World War II, the movie “Holiday Inn” starring Bing Crosby, Marjorie Reynolds and Fred Astaire popularized Irving Berlin’s song “Happy Holidays.”  The movie was set at country inn which was open only on holidays and it also gave us treasured songs such as “White Christmas” and “Easter Parade.”

For a few years now, there has been a perennial campaign about the use of the abbreviated form of the word Christmas written as “Xmas.”  Without fail, there will be demands that Xmas not be used because it is “taking Christ out of Christmas.”  Those who have studied Greek will recall that X is the first letter of the word Christ, written in Greek, as XPESTES.  When Xmas became popular in the 19th century, users were thought to be sophisticated and well-educated.

Equally controversial as the variety of greetings is the thought that Christmas has become too commercialized.  Ironically, the oldest newspapers in the Jobe Publishing archives from the 1880’s are filled with ads not unlike those you see today and there are columns complaining that the holiday has become too commercialized.  In 1949, the well-known Kentucky author Allen M. Trout complained in his Christmas column that commercialization of the holiday was out of hand.  It seems some things haven’t changed, though our forms of marketing have evolved with technology.

Christ is a part of Christmas; after all, it observes Jesus’ birth.  At the same time, we are in a season of holidays with varying significance to different people.  Does wishing others a “Merry Christmas” make the day more holy?  Does wishing someone a “Merry Christmas” make the speaker a more faithful follower of Christ?  Realistically, all of the people filling the malls and stores, shopping online and partaking of the celebrations are not Christian. 

Perhaps what everyone needs to do is stop worrying about whether someone wishes us a “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays” or which greeting chain stores print on their signs and shopping bags.  No matter which greeting a person chooses, they are expressing good, kind wishes for your well-being.  Is a choice of words expressing the same thought really worth being angry about?

There are so many serious issues in our world that should upset us.  We need to be angry about officials who make decisions that are not in the best interest of our communities.  We need to be upset about greed and mismanagement of our country’s resources.  We should be angry that so many people are addicted to drugs or other harmful elements.  How about being angry that that we have members of our military who are hated, tortured, and killed by others simply because they are Americans?  We need to be angry that in this land of plenty we have citizens who are homeless, or hungry, or outcast. 

Christ has not been removed from Christmas.  Christ will always be in Christmas.  It’s not going to change.  Those who fret that Christmas has been removed from our schools obviously were not present last week when one of our local elementary schools staged a play that spoke of Christmas, Jesus, the Bible, and prayer.  You can find Christ anywhere whether it’s in a church, automobile, a school play or sporting event, in the eyes of child, or even in the heart of your neighbor. 

Perhaps we can keep Christ in Christmas by re-reading the accounts of Christ’s birth in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and then flipping back to Matthew and allow Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount challenge us.  Perhaps we can keep Christ in Christmas by realizing that your hands and mine are really Christ’s hands in the world.  Maybe the best way to keep Christ in Christmas is to BE Christ in Christmas. 





American citizenship betters us all

By Sam Terry
September 18, 2013

Last week was a time filled with patriotism around our country.  The somber remembrance of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 served as a mid-week reminder of the things that make our country great.  Later in the week our publisher, Jeff Jobe, was at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas to see his son graduate from his basic training in the United States Air Force.  On the same day, I was fortunate to be one of a few dozen locals who descended into Mammoth Cave to see 39 immigrants representing 22 nationalities become American citizens.

The mood filling the air Mammoth Cave National Park was unique – it was a combination of joy, relief, satisfaction, and patriotism enveloping 39 individuals as they slowly made their way down the steep hill and descending dozens of steps into the chilly chambers deep in the earth.  They were young, old, and all ages in between.  There were babies in arms and elderly grandmothers supported by canes.  There were those who have lived in our country for years and others who have lived here for much shorter periods of time.  They were all Americans-to-be, all proudly clutching an American flag in their hand.

One of the great debates taking place in America involves immigration.  There are passionate opinions regarding all aspects of the issue.  The issue is debated by all political persuasions and all feel their perspective is more authentic.  It is a debate that needs to take place and a clear course determined and adhered to.  Many would argue that the clear course already exists and it just needs to be enforced.  The fact that 11 million people in our country undermine our laws each day is disturbing and illustrates the immense need for attention.

As we watched the new Americans pledging their oath of allegiance to our country, their new country, one could not help but want to cheer for them.  They did it the right way.  They came legally, they worked and studied, they committed themselves to adopting the American dream like so many of our ancestors did in generations past.  To speak to these individuals and hear their expressions of devotion to our country, to hear them speak of country’s history and our constitution with a better understanding than most of our citizens, is inspiring.  The pride they exhibit in their new country is more than evident.

There is a place for immigrants in our country.  Like generations past, we need the kind of people willing to uproot their lives in order to pursue the American dream.  We need people willing to create new businesses and generate jobs and who will aspire to leadership roles in our communities.  We need people who contribute to our scientific, cultural, and artistic resources and who will join with us to create better communities and schools.  We need immigrants who will take on the mantle of being an American and working to make our country greater.  But just as importantly, we need immigrants who come for the right reasons and with a commitment to follow the paths before them to become citizens.

To those who were naturalized last week, we welcome you.  We proudly call you Americans now.  We honor your desire to join the citizenry of our country.  We thank you for honoring us by doing it the right way.



Our Opinion:  

Let the winds of change restore pride in Barren County

By Sam Terry and Jeff Jobe
August 6, 2013
 
All of Barren County saw a glimmer of hope for a positive future in county government Monday afternoon with the appointment of Kent Keen as the new Barren County Sheriff.  A seasoned law enforcement official with a positive outlook and resolute determination, Keen pledged that he would manage the Barren County Sheriff’s Office with professional integrity.  

The three-year nightmare that cast a shadow over our community is essentially over.  The investigation of the former sheriff and other law enforcement officials concluded long ago.  A federal trial was conducted, the jury reached a decision, the verdict was read, and those found guilty have learned their fate.  There have been multiple victims of the ordeal and now is the time for community healing.

In the aftermath of the nightmare, Barren County Judge/Executive Davie Greer was called on to appoint a replacement for the now-former sheriff.  Now in her third term in office, Greer has met challenges no other Judge/Executive has ever faced.  In a relatively small number of years, she has been called upon three times to fill vacancies in our local government.  She has appointed a replacement Barren County Jailer, a replacement Barren County Court Clerk, and now, a new Barren County Sheriff.  Few elected county officials are placed in such a position.  We applaud Greer’s forthright determination to find dedicated public servants.

Kent Keen was Greer’s choice to be the new Barren County Sheriff and from all appearances, the public is pleased with the appointment.  A standing-room-only crowd filled our largest venue in the courthouse where there was an atmosphere that blended pride and hope.  Those were encouraging signs as our community puts an ugly ordeal in its past and moves forward.

Barren County is a wonderful place that we’re proud to call our home.  Like any other community, we have our challenges but there is not one single challenge that we can’t overcome if we work together for the good of Barren County.  We encourage our citizens to join with Sheriff Keen and the men and women of the Barren County Sheriff’s Office in embracing a bright future for our community.





Our View:    Glasgow City Council must cease the reckless actions
by Sam Terry and Jeff Jobe
July 30, 2013

Most of the time, observing the Glasgow City Council‘s meetings can be slightly mundane. We like to see council members have discussions in open session where all can see our elected officials speaking and acting on our behalf as they conduct the city’s business. That’s simply good government.

However, 2013 has brought a disturbing trend with multiple instances of the pre-determined meeting agenda being amended during the meeting in order to bring up an action that appears to catch most council members off guard. It’s perfectly fine for such a scenario to unfold when a matter requires urgent attention.

It’s disturbing when council members appear to be operating with reckless abandon to push forward some unknown agenda. It’s not a good practice when there are committees that should hear proposals and then study them to determine how best to proceed. That is exactly what happened, again, at last week’s council meeting when Council member Wendell Honeycutt proposed that all full-time city employees receive a $1,000 bonus in November.

Like most of the people watching the meeting in person or on television, we were perplexed by such a bold action. It was only a few weeks ago when we observed a budgetary showdown about the city’s spending while considering the current budget. At that time, some council members were suggesting that the city needed to either raise taxes, reduce services, or eliminate more than two dozen employees.

Fast-forward a few weeks and we are told that preaudit figures show a much healthier financial picture than previously anticipated. What great news for Glasgow taxpayers! However, the notion that the council would  seriously consider spending $200,000 without any prior discussions by the Finance Committee is simply irresponsible. Granted, the motion was later amended to change the amount to $500 per full-time employee or about $100,000.

Our city workers do a fine job.  We are proud of the work they do and their dedication.  We appreciate their efforts to cut wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars.  At the same time, there are thousands of workers all over this community who have had to tighten their belts and do more with less.  We all have, including Jobe Publishing.

We still live in a fragile economy and we all must be mindful of unnecessary spending.  That goes for the City of Glasgow as well.  We hope the post-audit figures show there is a way for deserving city workers to receive some moderate increase in compensation.  We say deserving because this government across-the-board style of bonus-giving, salary increases and management is void of individual merit and accountability.  This is precisely the reason we have seen numerous individuals stand against city management and win.  It is our opinion that bonuses are awarded for outstanding performance, not for simply punching the time clock.

The hasty actions at last week’s meeting were not appropriate or responsible and simply more of the same. 

We applaud council members Dick Doty and Joe Trigg for having the tenacity to speak up and vote against a reckless action that is neither urgent nor well thought-out.  We hope that in the future when such surprise motions are made that the council will refer them to the appropriate committee for study and possible later action.

More importantly and immediately, we hope the six council members who voted in favor of the action will consume an ample dose of common sense and vote down the motion on the second reading and insist that it be sent through the appropriate channels for further study.

Rash decision-making will not help our city government nor this community.  There is no reason for such uncontrolled actions now or in the future.  The taxpayers whose hard-earned dollars are being spent with little thought deserve better than what went on last week.




Celebrating what’s good about Barren County

By Sam Terry

July 23, 2013

Glasgow and Barren County have some blemishes.  There’s not a community anywhere that doesn’t have its fair share of things they would prefer not to be known for.  Sometimes those reputations are earned, sometimes they are nothing more an ignorant stereotypes, and sometimes the negative situation is a circumstance beyond control.
Our entire county has suffered some blows over the past couple of years and any local resident who’s been as far out of the house as the mailbox knows all about them.  There is no need to enumerate the list of skeletons we’d prefer just stay in the community closet.  This newspaper, like any other responsible news source, covers those unfortunate events; it does not mean we enjoy it or condone it.  It does not mean we agree with newsmakers who have lapses of good judgment, make poor decisions, or perhaps enjoy being in the spotlight a little too much.  
All too frequently, we read and hear about things that are wrong with Glasgow, Cave City, and all the rest of Barren County.  Some of those claims are correct, others are probably matters of personal opinion.  No one has ever claimed our community to be a utopia nor will it ever be such.
Barren County, from boundary to boundary, has a lot to celebrate.  This county has had pride in itself for 214 years.  A lot has been accomplished here since the first settlers decided the formation of a county and a county seat were a good idea.  Not all of our history has been positive.  We’ve had the same issues every other community has had and we will continue to have issues as long as time lasts.  That said, we don’t need to be too quick to pat ourselves on the back.  Instead, we must remember that a lot was accomplished before any of us came on the scene.
If you look around Barren County with an objective mind, you will find a lot good things.  Last week was one of the more memorable weeks that showcased what is right about our cities and county – the very things that make us a community.
Here are a few examples:
The Temple Hill Lions Club produced another fine Barren County Fair – in fact, it was the 59th time they’ve held a fair in the eastern Barren County community.  Men, women, and even children gave their all to organizing the annual event and then they spent ten days and nights working at the fair to make sure everything ran smoothly.  Monday evening they began thinking about doing it all again next year.
The Barren County Fair provides important opportunities for young people to exhibit their cattle, show their horses, goats, and sheep.  It’s an opportunity for cute babies to win a prize and make their daddies shed a tear of pride.  It’s an opportunity for talented young ladies to present themselves with poise and beauty to possibly earn a crown and walk yet another runway.  It’s an opportunity to enjoy many events together as friends, families, and as a community – and to be a community.  
The Barren County Fair and the Temple Hill Lions Club are two of the things that are right in our county.  
Last week, the Glasgow-Barren County Chamber of Commerce held multiple ribbon cutting ceremonies.  Ribbon cuttings are not an unusual thing in our community, but nevertheless, important.  Farm Credit Services opened their new facility serving farmers and agribusinesses all over our county.  Plum Yum, a new eatery serving up tasty treats, held its grand opening in a revitalized shopping center that most predicted would simply decay.  Those are more things to commend about Barren County – we came together to celebrate, serve and support one another.
The dedicated folks at Farmers Rural Electric Cooperative paused last Friday to remind us that we’ve been enjoying electricity in all parts of Barren County for the past 75 years.  We take such utility services for granted and most of us never give the topic a second thought.  Some community-spirited people 75 years ago committed to helping all of our citizens have a more modern and efficient life by making rural electrification a reality.  Many of us have parents and grandparents who remember all too well when not all homes in this county had electrical service.  It took dedicated individuals to make such a project a reality.  That spirit is another of the things that’s right about Barren County and reminds us we’ve been doing it for generations.
Last Saturday, a large crowd gathered on the lawn of the Barren County Courthouse at the invitation of the Glasgow Business and Professional Women’s Club to celebrate the lives of two native women.  While Willa Brown Chappell and Nettie B. C. Depp’s accomplishments were center stage, as they should have been, what unfolded was a display of community that is not seen every day.  In other cities across America last Saturday, protesters were bickering about a racially-charged court verdict.  In Barren County, people representing multiple races and cultures gathered to honor two natives that most in attendance never knew.  
The camaraderie displayed on the lawn of our courthouse was inspiring.  Everyone present was visibly in support of one another and their focus was honoring two women who easily could have been forgotten and at best left as a name on a page in history.  It was the definition of “community” personified. That’s another example of what’s right about Barren County.
Finally, an individual asked me why I was attending yet another community event, making photos, and preparing to share news of it with our readers.  The question was posed in a negative way as if to insinuate that the event and persons involved were not important.  I’ll tell you why this newspaper was there:  because we are an integral part of this community.  We are a local newspaper, locally-owned, locally operated, and locally-produced for the benefit of local people.  Our focus is entirely local – if it’s important to people in our community, it’s important to us.
You give us the honor of being the local newspaper you read each week.  We intend to continue bringing you local news about local people and events.  Not all of the news we print is positive nor is all of the news negative.  In short, we like to think of the Barren County Progress as another of the things that’s right about Barren County.  You can take that as our commitment to you and to celebrating our community.





Sign provides opportunities

By Sam Terry
July 17, 2013

Glasgow residents have had a lot to discuss this summer.  Last Friday’s appearance of a sign in a tree on South Green Street gave people something more to discuss.  Some might term the mini-billboard a protest sign of sorts.  We think the sign presents an opportunity.
Since the memorable ice storm of 1994, the Glasgow Electric Plant Board has had an aggressive tree trimming policy in an effort to combat the possibility of power lines being damaged by falling limbs and trees. We Americans tend to take luxuries such as electricity for granted.  When darkness falls at the end of the day, we instinctively expect our electric lights to operate without interruption.  We expect our homes and workplaces to be either warm or cool depending on the season.  We expect to be able to use all sorts of devices and gizmos to purportedly make our lives better or to entertain us.
Trees, according to both observation and officials at the EPB, can be a problem when it comes to providing electrical service that is delivered through lines suspended above the earth which puts them in a position of being intertwined in tree branches.  When the trees and power lines come together, problems sometimes occur.
In addition to the obvious problem, comes the issue of the annihilation of the trees in favor of the power lines.  Humans have been doing terrible things to trees, such as topping, for many years.  Such practices ultimately weaken the tree and shorten its life as well as cause it to be an unsightly eyesore.  
People like trees.  People are sentimental about trees when they’ve been planted to mark events such as births, weddings, and deaths and they grow up playing beneath shady branches.  Trees are valued for their aesthetic qualities which are important to not only people but to a community’s appearance and even its pride.  In addition to their aesthetic value, trees have significant economic and environmental benefits, including reducing storm-water runoff, energy conservation, improving air quality, and enhancement of community vitality, stability and property values for residential and business areas.
Some people will quickly suggest that if power lines were buried underground, there would be no problems.  Aside from the fact that installing underground utilities is obscenely expensive, the fact remains that tree roots get into those underground lines and trees still fall on and damage the necessary above-ground transformers and switch boxes.  Simply put, there is no perfect solution.
Last Friday, a South Green Street property owner installed the much-discussed sign out of frustration with the local electrical utility company’s recent work on a maple tree standing on his property.  The ruined tree lost its entire crown except a couple of branches growing from its large trunk.  It is an eyesore and the devastation of the tree has been discussed for weeks, long before the sign appeared.  Sadly, there are far too many similar examples to be found along Glasgow’s streets.
There’s not an easy solution to the situation, but it’s time something changed about how trees are dealt with in Glasgow.  Progressive cities all over the country have become proactive about trees and the valuable tree canopy.  It’s time Glasgow joined the effort.
Other cities have a plan for trees in their communities and we can, too.  We need to educate everyone about the proper care and pruning of trees so that we don’t have the unsightly messes lining our streets.  We need to help those wishing to plant trees to know which varieties are most beneficial.  We need to help our citizens understand the proper placement of trees so that they don’t end up creating problems in the future. We need a defined plan of what to do about trees that are in the way of power lines.  We need a plan for increasing Glasgow’s tree canopy to combat the effects of global warming and climate change.  There is much to be done and now is the time.
The infamous sign has created enough idle conversation and now it needs to be translated into a constructive community conversation that should include city leaders, utility providers, citizens, certified arborists, tourism officials, landscape designers, plus organizations such as the Glasgow Garden Club and Sustainable Glasgow.  Let’s put Glasgow’s brightest minds to work on this important issue.




Elephants and Young Turks in City Hall

By Sam Terry
June 19, 2013

Last week seemed relatively routine to most folks in Glasgow but some observant types noticed two phenomena inside Glasgow City Hall:  an elephant and a local version of the famed Young Turks reminiscent of the Kentucky legislature of about forty years ago.

The proverbial elephant made its appearance in the City Council chambers.  The occasion was the council’s first reading of the proposed Fiscal Year 2013-14 budget.  Of course, the elephant is merely an illustration of something the Barren County Progress editorial team has been saying for around eight months:   Glasgow’s city government has a financial problem.  The problem is simple – they don’t have enough money to operate in the fashion to which they’ve become accustomed. Granted, costs for everything have increased in recent years but adjustments have to be considered.

In the final two months of 2012, the Barren County Progress editorial team pointed out this fact when the Stormwater Management Fee was being thrust upon the property owners of Glasgow.  Unfortunately, few people at that time took us seriously enough to storm city hall and express their opinions about the program whose fee was promoted as a mandate when it wasn’t.  Since that time, plenty of Glasgow property owners have stormed city hall with the resulting bills in hand and the majority have been downright furious about it.

As we pointed out and as the city’s budget reports showed, the stormwater management projects were already being funded through various city departments when the new program and fee were put in place.  The new money generated by the fees replaced the monies already dedicated for this use in the city’s budget and in turn the city would have a few hundred thousand dollars of uncommitted money. 

Only a few weeks into 2013, knowing that the Stormwater Management Fees would begin producing much-needed income, city officials quickly found ways to spend more money.  It was at that time officials entered into a very costly lease on a building for a new Police Department headquarters.  There is no question that the department needed expanded, professional space, but the affordability is questionable.

Merely days after the opening of the law enforcement agency’s new offices, the city’s proposed budget arrived to show the spending of $1.48 million dollars more than projected revenues.  If the projections in the budget are correct, at the end of the coming fiscal year, Glasgow’s government will have about $607,000 left in what has come to be known as the “rainy day fund.”  In years past, substantially more money has been retained in the fund.

At the same time the elephant few people wished to acknowledge was in sitting in the middle of the council chamber, another phenomenon appeared:  the Young Turks of Glasgow.  A few decades ago a group of young, some might say renegade, legislators in our state capitol with fresh with ideas they wished to push forth, came to be known as “the Young Turks.”  A later resident of Glasgow, George Street Boone, was one of the group who bravely questioned and balked at things he didn’t like.

Rookie council members Dick Doty, Joe Trigg, Karalee Oldenkamp, and more seasoned members Sheila Oliver, Stacy Norman Hammer, and Brad Groce all expressed their dislike for the budget as presented.   They aptly pointed out that some changes in the budget needed to be made.  Veteran council member Harold “M.D.” Armstrong cut to the quick of the situation and suggested that the city needed to either raise taxes, fire 25 employees, or consider taxing entities not currently taxed.  As Armstrong and others pointed out, none of those are pleasant options, but they are the options at hand if city spending is not reined in.

The appearance of the Young Turks of Glasgow is a positive thing.  It shows that democracy is at work because the persons voters elected to represent them are indeed voicing their opinions even if it’s not popular with the status quo.  It’s refreshing to see hard questions asked, points made, and an insistence on accountability while looking to our city’s future.  

When next Monday night rolls around, the city’s budget will have its second reading and final vote.  It will likely pass and go into effect the following week.  The influence of those willing to speak up and offer alternative ideas remains to be seen, but it sheds a hopeful light on the future.




Teachers can change lives

By Sam Terry
June 12, 2013


School is dismissed for the summer break, the caps and gowns have been put away, and the textbooks have been inventoried, but one of the most significant aspects of education continues to work in the minds and hearts of nearly everyone who ever attended school.  What continues to work is the influence of good teachers. You probably had one or two who were special to you.  
A couple of weeks ago I was asked to present a brief remembrance of my recently-deceased Aunt Carolyn, a 32½ year veteran educator in Hart County Schools, at this week’s meeting of the county’s Retired Teachers Association.  One of the most important people in my life, my aunt taught me many lessons over several decades even though I was never a student in her classroom.  
Hoping to reflect on the impact my aunt made on her students, I searched for inspiration in a scrapbook of letters written by former students and colleagues and presented to her upon her retirement.  I was impressed and proud as I thumbed through those pages.   One student became an educator herself and she wrote, “Although I have never told you before, you are responsible for my going to college.  You used to challenge me by saying that I would get married and not go to college.  I believe that I had to prove you wrong by accepting your challenge and I am so thankful that I did.”
"
You made a big difference at Hart Memorial by simply not making a difference between students.  With you, everyone counted and everyone was taught in your class.  You made us learn.  For that, I will always be grateful.  We never gave up with our excuses such as ‘lasts night’s ballgame,’ but you never gave in with your teaching,” recalled another student.  
A former student named Renee shared that, “Back in 1959 you told me I reminded you of yourself.  It was a compliment I always treasured.  That compliment helped me to pick myself up off the floor many times.  I hope I have not disappointed you.”  
A young adult of the 1960’s, she noted that “I never carried a protest sign without knowing the geography and government of the land, thanks to you.  Your fighting spirit, ability to reason, and desire to search for the truth is the legacy you have given your students. You gave me the ability to read between the lines of the victor-written books.  I never wanted to read those books for you, but I have treated myself better.”  
More than a few recalled that my aunt made history come to life in her classroom by insisting that learning history was not drudgery, and yet she was demanding of her students.  Billy noted that he still feels the anguish of the day his class was told to get out a blank sheet of paper for a test; the instruction was “now, draw the world and fill in all the countries.”  
Another student added that he still remembered where Angola, Panama and South Africa were and details about their history and why they and other countries are important to world civilization and the economy.  Yet another revealed that when her husband’s job required him to design and build better bombs to keep our country safe, she recalled why national defense and world peace were important and she also understood the backgrounds of the places those bombs might eventually land because of what she learned in my aunt’s classroom.  
Still, not all of the lessons recalled were academic, but perhaps equally impressionable, as now-mature men Jerry and Larry joked that a paddling by their tiny-statured teacher wearing high heels could bring tears to their eyes and momentarily lift them from the floor with each swing when the need arose.  Yet, they loved and respected her for it.  One added, “The world is a better place because of your contributions as an educator. You personally enriched the lives of your students and challenged us to be better people.”  
No doubt, you had teachers who made impressions on you as well.  I certainly did.  I was fortunate to sit in the classrooms of teachers like Helen Russell whom I long ago dubbed “the Goddess of History.”  Like my aunt, she brought history to life, made it real, and made you yearn for more details that took the story from mundane to meaningful.  She was a master at taking a term paper you had spent several nights preparing and return it to you looking as though her red pen had malfunctioned.  One quickly learned to write better and choose the correct word for the thought in your mind.  There have been many students enter college to realize they were far better quipped for the experience thanks to the demands of Mrs. Russell.  
Judith Zimmerman also comes to mind as an English teacher extraordinaire.  Small of stature but large in enthusiasm for teaching and her students, she demanded excellence.  Run-on sentences and improper grammar were among her enemies and she sought to remove them from our lives.  Depending on one’s personal experience, you left Mrs. Zimmerman’s class either loving or hating the art of diagramming sentences. I still love to diagram sentences.  
Another memorable teacher was Sybil Doty who taught the importance of good grammar and the art of public speaking.   A native of Indiana, Mrs. Doty found our sometimes-lazy rural enunciation the bane of her existence.  As a speech teacher, she guided her students in knowing what to say and how to say it effectively.   Carrie Walker Newberry was another memorable teacher for her relaxed, conversational approach to teaching civics, so much so that some students might have been convinced she had been present at the Constitutional Convention.  In the 1975-1976 school year, Mrs. Newberry created her own “Bicentennial History” class and those lucky enough to be a part of it have a far greater appreciation for the men and women who suffered and sacrificed in order for our country to gain its independence.  
No doubt, you have your own recollections from your formal education and the teachers who inspired you. One continues growing and learning the remainder of his or her days on earth, but that growth is built on the foundation put in place by memorable teachers.  
As you experience life and reflect on those who influenced you, take a moment to write them a note or give them a call and express your appreciation.  If they’re no longer among us, take a moment and share with someone else what you learned from that teacher and pass on the legacy.  
You can't perform an act of kindness too soon, because you never know how soon it will be too late.






Thanks for the memories, Horse Cave Theatre

By Sam Terry
February 27, 2013

Upon learning of the final lowering of the stage lights at Kentucky Repertory Theatre last Wednesday, I found it a good time to recall what most in the region still think of as Horse Cave Theatre and its history.  While the name may have been updated to reflect the theatre’s uniqueness in the Commonwealth, those who have been around since the beginning know it was Horse Cave’s theatre. 
             The theatre began as the dream of a handful of people who sought to do something different and worthwhile.  Most area residents thought they were crazy, after all, how could a town with only a couple thousand people possibly have a theatre with professional actors?  Who was going to come to such a small place whose fame centered on a defunct railroad hotel and a cavern on its main thoroughfare where a horse might have met its end?  
            Enter Warren Hammack, a Kentucky fellow whose background was in the tobacco patches of western Kentucky, who possessed a penchant for theatre and a charming personality that won the hearts of those he encountered.    Warren’s ability to understand and interact with the local people was one of the factors that made the theatre a success.  His ability to infect others with his dream of a repertory theatre in Horse Cave allowed him to bring equity actors and theatre support staff to Horse Cave and they created the magic of the stage before our very eyes.
            The sleepy little town roused a bit when work on the old Thomas Opera House began to take shape.  The creative minds of the movers and shakers chose to create a lobby reminiscent of the Kentucky tobacco barns that dotted the landscape of nearly every farm in the area.  The original lobby did little more than provide shelter from the rare summer rain but it was part of the charm of Horse Cave Theatre.  It was a signature statement about where we were and it paid silent homage to the product that made south central Kentucky a viable place to live, raise a family, and call home.
            I had the privilege of sitting in the audience on opening night of the theatre’s first play, “Candida,” on June 10, 1977.  I was afforded the opportunity by my now-departed widowed grandfather who whole-heartedly supported the concept of a theatre in the area.  For the following 22 years he missed only one opening night performance and he had the same seat for those 113 performances.
    What a memorable evening that opening night proved to be.  The reality of it was more the stuff of a well-crafted novel set in a small southern town filled with characters who were nearly as interesting as the ones being portrayed on stage. 
    On that hot summer night it seemed everyone glistened – it would have been impolite to merely sweat in the tobacco barn lobby of the new sensation of the region.  There were the now-departed Grande dames of Horse Cave and most of south-central Kentucky – they came bejeweled and perfumed, some even pulling out fur stoles from decades gone by and others wearing flowers in their hair. There were businessmen and farmers who donned their Sunday suits while the more trendy gents sported “leisure suits” and most were a bit unsure of just how this theatre thing was going to work. 
 It took only a few lines from the star of the stage that night to capture the hearts and minds of the audience.  The heroine of the play was embodied by the charismatic Pamela White who sashayed around the stage in a colorful gown while sorting through the choices provided by her clergyman-husband, the Rev. James Mavor Morell and the love-struck young poet, Eugene Marchbanks.  
            The opening production was the first of more than 230 to fill the stage of Horse Cave Theatre over the years.  There were dozens of memorable productions but early favorites would have included “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “Tartuffe,” “Bus Stop,” “Of Mice and Men,” “The Glass Menagerie,” “Tobacco Road,” “Harvey,” “A Flea in Her Ear,” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”  The list could go on and on.  
 Equally memorable were the professional actors who came to call Horse Cave “home” for a few months of the year while they personified an array of characters.  Some chose to return for several seasons while others pursued other venues in larger cities.  A review of the actors could fill multiple volumes.
            Soon after opening, local patrons relaxed a bit and many felt the freedom to experience the plays in the more casual clothing employed by the thousands of tourists flocking to the region each summer.  The beauty of Horse Cave Theatre began to shine through when everyday folks realized that the theatre was for everyone, not just certain groups.  One of the pleasing sights to observe was the mixture of the well-heeled, the highly educated, the politically-powerful, and the socially-conscious rubbing elbows with the tenant farmers, the school teachers, the painters, and the sales ladies from the local stores.  
            Where impromptu grocery store and gas station chats once centered on the weather and suppertime menus, the conversations changed.  “Have you been to see the new play at the theatre?”  “Did you like the last play as well as the ones they did last year?”  “What did you think of those costumes?”  “Wasn’t that stage set something to see? How did they build all of that?”  
            Warren employed his abundant creativity to begin producing a Kentucky play each year – that is, a play written by a Kentuckian or set in Kentucky.  This unique feature grabbed the attention of people all around and it set Horse Cave Theatre apart once gain by being innovative.  The concept evolved into the Kentucky Voices program that mentored inspired writers and aided some of them in seeing their writings staged at the theatre. 
            Simultaneously, the staging of a William Shakespeare play each year brought the works of “the Bard of Avon” to life for thousands of area students.  Horse Cave Theatre had a profound impact on so many youngsters as they experienced live acting by professional actors.  Other young people chose different paths for their advanced education or career choices because of what they experienced on Main Street in Horse Cave through acting classes, workshops, and opportunities to work as stage hands and box office workers, or volunteer as ushers.  
            Just like nearly every other activity in life, there had to be some romance and Horse Cave Theatre was no exception for not all of the drama was on the stage.  Certainly there were summertime romances, but some had lasting qualities that charted new courses in life.  Most notably, Warren and Pamela wed in their third year in Horse Cave, and the duo became a union of two faces that personified the theatre.  Julie Beckett and Dan Crutcher were the stars of another romance that, thanks to the encouragement of my grandfather, led to a wedding.  
            The memories of Horse Cave Theatre and how it changed the lives of not only the residents of a small town, but an entire region, could fill multiple volumes.  Ask anyone who experienced an HCT production and they will share a story about it and most can express how it affected their lives.  The dream of Bill Austin, Tom Chaney, and Hammack proved to be more than a fantasy for it was real.  Explaining how such a concept actually worked for over 35 years is nearly impossible.  
            Like Cole Porter’s clever ditty points out:  it was just one of those things. 

“It was just one of those things, just one of those crazy flings. 
One of those bells that now and then rings, just one of those things.
 It was just one of those nights, just one of those fabulous flights
 A trip to the moon on gossamer wings, just one of those things. 
So good-bye, dear, and amen. 
Here’s hoping we meet now and then. 
It was great fun, but it was just one of those things."

            Thanks for the memories, Horse Cave Theatre.




Goodbye to an old friend

By Sam Terry
December 28, 2012

                December 21 saw the end of an era in Glasgow history.  It was, of course, the shortest day of the year as the Winter Solstice arrived.  According to some persons studying the Mayan calendar, it was supposed to be the day the world would come to an end.  In our town, it was both a short day and the final day for a 202 year old landmark, the Zion R. Huggins house, at 105 Cleveland Avenue.

                Built in 1810 by Huggins, one of Barren County’s early distillers and nurserymen, the house was the second oldest structure standing in Glasgow, surpassed only by the historic Spotswood House.  The Huggins family lived in the house for more than a century.  Originally a three-pen, one-story log structure, the house was enlarged near the middle of the 19th century into a white weatherboard-sided two-story farmhouse with later additions as needs changed.

                According to the writings of noted Glasgow Civil War historian and educator Jimmy Simmons, Confederate Gen. Bragg made the house his headquarters in 1862 when his troops marched through Glasgow.  The story handed down for 150 years reveals that the soldiers learned of Huggins’ stock of brandy filling the cellar and soon had a brisk business selling the coveted liquor from the cellar window. 

                My own family’s knowledge of the house and friendship with its inhabitants goes back more than a century.  Around 1905, when a town such as Glasgow had little noise, Cousin Jennie stepped onto our front porch on Leslie Avenue one summer morning and heard Miss Maud singing, the shrill notes wafting across The Triangle from the Huggins house (there were only about six houses in the entire neighborhood at the time, our home being one of two on Leslie Avenue).  Maud was playing her piano and singing “I Know a Place Where the Four-Leaf Clovers Bloom” which caused Jennie to quip, “Well, it sounds like Maud’s gone and jumped in the clover patch.”  Jennie’s father, C.C. Terry, resting in the front yard hammock, found it all amusing enough that the tale was passed down.  That was during a time when neighbors truly knew one another as opposed to our modern tendencies.

                Years later, Glasgow educator Paul Vaughn renovated the Huggins house and moved his family into the structure in late 1942.  Less than two years later Vaughn sold the home to the Lykins family in 1945.  Mrs. Mollie Lykins and her three of her children - Herman, Emma, Mary (nicknamed “Pet”), and granddaughter Frances, lived in the home for more than six decades.  Frances Rootes Edwards was the last person to inhabit the home until her death in January 2012.  At that time I became one of the owners of the property.

                On April 24 of this year an arsonist saw fit to set fire to the historic home and the result not only robbed the time-tested structure of its very life, but the Glasgow community of a noteworthy piece of its history.  Though efforts to save the house were sincerely made, the post-fire condition was such that a renovation was not feasible.

                Last week in a downpour of rain, a cold December wind blew through the house as its inevitable demise drew near.  As I walked among charred rubble I could not help but recall dozens of stories about the house and its former inhabitants.  Fortunately, most of the stories were happy memories and the people in the stories didn’t have to endure the horror of seeing what had happened to a place they loved and cherished.

                While the downpour of rain continued and water poured in from who knows where, I noticed in the parlor the remains of a once-treasured piano that in its glory days had filled the house with melodies.  Nearby there were empty, charred frames from a father’s art studio, their paint-laden canvasses destroyed by fire.  Where a fine Adam mantel had been the proud centerpiece of the parlor stood a crumbling fireplace with an appearance more like that of a toothless, bruised fellow who lost a fight.  

                One final trip up the stairs that now creaked and groaned, revealed bedrooms that were reduced to being less of a shelter than the most dilapidated barns.  Walls that once held family portraits showed outlines of beds that were no longer there and the walls themselves were reduced to thin barriers longing for the end of their service. 

                As I descended the now banister-less staircase I paused to think of how many chubby little fingers had caressed the walls as they made their way down – and how many frail and trembling hands had struggled to make their way up when they’d grown old. 

                There were no more hushed tones of silverware on china in the dining room and Chan the cat who slept in a grandmother’s prized Blue Willow turkey platter had left the scene decades ago.  Pet’s hand-painted china plates were merely pieces of broken porcelain mingling on the floor with shards of crystal cake stands that had proudly served jam cakes of Christmases past.

                Where once had been a front door was an oversized opening giving a view to the yard where wild flowers would be coming up in just a few months.  The gong that once announced the arrival of little boys for afternoon visits would ring no more in this entry hall where gingerbread men had delighted trick-or-treaters of days gone by.  

                I found myself straining to hear one more burst of laughter from the kitchen where an old Mammy’s chair once rocked and soothed fretful children - and adults, too.  No, there was no sound and there was no one – everyone and everything had gone. 

 When the sun rose on December 21, all that remained of the Zion Huggins house was a shell of what had been, now waiting for the sweet release of death.  When the sun set on the same day, all that remained was a pile of rubble awaiting burial.

                Sadly, the house, like its inhabitants, had died.  All of the earthly remains are a couple of mantels, a few boxes of trinkets and dishes, a few pieces of fire-damaged furniture, a few dozen handmade bricks and three hand hewn limestone steps destined for a new use.  The other remains are merely memories of a place and its people who once called Glasgow home.

                May they all rest in peace.


And so this is Christmas…again

By Sam Terry
Christmas 2012

                There’s a little bit of Scrooge in all of us.  When one reaches an age in which he’s experienced a number of Christmases, a few dozen marathon shopping sprees combined with holiday decorating frenzies that have little to do with the actual holiday, Christmas can become more of a going through the motions rather than all being merry and bright. 

There are family traditions to uphold – a certain decoration given its honored place, the making of recipes handed down from family and friends, the cookies to bake, the lights to string, and the list goes on to the point that the holiday season can begin to seem like a chore.  Too often, we easily fall into the “Bah, humbug” attitude with our goal being to just get through it.  Frequently, we hear of people issuing a holiday greeting with the addendum of the desire for it to all be over.

Blend all of the above with the news of a horrible tragedy like the one witnessed by our country last Friday, and the sparkling holiday glitter loses much of its luster and dulls considerably.  Heartbreaking catastrophes seem magnified when they occur near a favored holiday and perhaps leave us asking “why” with a little more bewilderment.

                Somehow, despite it all, Christmas lives.  The spirit goes on.  But how does it happen?

                Now many would say Christmas lives because of the religious origin of the holiday, and hardly anyone would argue otherwise.

                Some would say Christmas lives because of commercialism.  We complain that the holiday has become too commerce-oriented, yet our 19th century ancestors were the folks who started that trend in the years following the Civil War.  Whether we like it not, our economy depends on Christmas, and that’s part of how Christmas lives.

                Perhaps the way the hallowed holiday continues on is because it is reborn every year.  Most holiday seasons are punctuated with some particular moment when the spirit of Christmas magically appears.

                When children line up on stages and begin to sing “Silent Night,” no one seems to notice that it’s off-key. 

When tinsel halos are perched atop children’s heads while fluttering wings are pinned to their backs, no one minds the devilish grin on the angel’s face. 

When bathrobes become shepherd’s attire and great grandpa’s long-unused cane comes out of the closet to become a shepherd’s staff, no one notices that there’s not a sheep in sight.

When children sit on a parent’s lap and drink in the tale of a certain night before Christmas, it becomes magical. 

When new generations gaze at shiny baubles on a Christmas tree for the first time, it’s a memorable sight to behold. 

When one reads or hears the story of old that begins at each telling, “And it came to pass…,” one knows the story will go on to swaddling clothes, angels, shepherds, and the eternally-tardy magi.

When old familiar strains to the carols of season remind us to rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing while all is calm and bright in a lowly cattle shed and the good news is spread across the earth in story, song, and the ringing of bells.

These are the things that keep Christmas alive and help adults escape the numbing influences to renew the celebration that goes back centuries.

When the magic of Christmas arrives, it can be felt in the air, on the streets, it’s tucked in colorful envelopes arriving in the mail, in the greetings of nearly everyone, and even the most crazed among us become a little nicer. 

We see the magic of Christmas as we travel our community and see the way people decorate – even over-decorate – their homes and lawns.  It’s a reminder that even adults can be infected with an extra dose of joy to become almost giddy.

Yes, Christmas is also a time of gluttony and greed, when extravagant excesses also fill shopping lists to the point that too often it resembles the paganism and commercialism that Christmas purists love to hate.

Other parts of Christmas exist, too.  Just sit back and let the sounds of the season swirl about your head.  There you’ll find that every dreamy Christmas is snow-laden, chestnuts are eternally roasting on open fires, and we’re reminded that at Christmas, all roads lead home, whether literally or in memory.  Gaze upon lights that enchant us to the point of being slightly out of focus, and then we remember that it can be a beautiful season after all.

What we all should strive for is to keep the Christmas spirit alive the rest of the year and not confined to just a few days.  Probably no one penned such a thought as eloquently as Henry van Dyke when he wrote his sermon well over 100 years ago and entitled it “Keeping Christmas.”  I’ll leave you with an excerpt from the message, and wish you a Merry Christmas.

“Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world; to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground; to see that your fellow-men are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for job; to own that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life; to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness – are you willing to do these things even for a day?  Then you can keep Christmas.

“Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and the desires of little children; to remember the weakness and loneliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts; to try to understand what those who live in the same house with you really want, without waiting for them to tell you; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts, and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open – are you willing to do these things for even a day?  Then you can keep Christmas.

“Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world – stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death – and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love?  Then you can keep Christmas.

“And if you keep it for a day, why not always?”





Do we need a little civility?
by Sam Terry
May 2012



 When he was not yet 16 years of age, a boy named George Washington set about to transcribe Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation.   Twenty-first century readers of those 110 rules may find them outdated and too formal but the basic tenet remains the same:  Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.” 

                Considering a number of observations of our current society one must ask the question “what happened to civility?”  You remember - civility - the notion of politeness, courtesy, and respect in conduct, not unlike the most golden of rules of treating others as you hope to be treated.

                Have we become so self-oriented that we ignore basic courtesies?  Have we ascribed to the “me” generation’s notion of doing only what “I” want to do when “I” want to do it and behaving however “I” choose to behave without regard for others?  Have we forgotten that the world does not revolve around us, that this earth has 6.8 billion people on it who must attempt to move through life with some degree of civility in order to not have local and global chaos?  Have we been exposed to so much outrageous behavior on television and in movies that we actually believe it is acceptable to emulate such behavior?

                Sometimes it seems we need a referee on the playing field to occasionally blow a whistle to stop the action in the game of life and then have a little talk in the huddle to regroup and remember what we need to accomplish and how we need to go about the task.

                A few weeks ago we were in the season of commencements – a happy and hopeful time when graduates look to the future and parents remember the past.  One of our local classes realized outstanding accomplishments but their commencement also achieved notoriety that will go down in history because two adult female spectators got in a fight and had to be hauled off to jail during the conferring of diplomas.  At more than one commencement it appeared that people had forgotten they were at graduation and not a sporting event where cheering for your team is perfectly appropriate.  There is an appropriate time and place for nearly everything and perhaps we need a few reminders.

                At various community events, but particularly one recent major event, it was observed that the majority of the hat-wearing males seemed to forget to remove their headgear for the playing of our National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.  Have we lost so much of our pride in being Americans – citizens of the greatest nation the earth has ever known – that we can’t be interrupted?  One certainly didn’t see such a situation at the recent Memorial Day services honoring our veterans, both living and dead.  How refreshing to see that our recent Scottish visitors for the Glasgow Highland Games were the first to leap from their seats for the playing of the American anthem as a sign of respect for their host country.

                No matter what your opinion of the sitting President of the United States, he is still our President and as such deserves the respect afforded to the highest office in the land.  We’ve never had a president who was liked by every citizen and we never will.  The liberties afforded to Americans allow us to have our own opinions about the nation’s leader without fear of repercussion, but we still are obliged to respect the office.

                Have we become so crass and determined to have our personal opinions known that it is acceptable to verbally trash others, even the dead, in public settings for all to hear?  No matter what a person did or did not do, they were a human being and part of God’s creation, they were important to someone, and even with their personal idiosyncrasies, had redeeming qualities.  Must we insist on being judge and jury and announce our verdict to the world?  How peculiar that our 21st century society feels tolerance is the number one virtue but we have so little of it.  We need to remember that others might have something to teach us – even when we think they might be crazy, ignorant or uninformed.  Our great grandmothers had the best idea when they told their offspring “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

                Our world has the wonder of the internet but it also has users who use it to abuse and malign others.  It is much harder to be uncivil to a person standing in front of you, but when hiding behind a smart phone or a laptop, throwing around angry opinions or fabricated untruths with little thought or care is all too easy.  Where is that referee with the whistle?

                The internet has also made us junkies who can’t seem to get enough information.  The advent of smart phones allowing a palm-sized avenue to communication seems to have made us afraid to ever be out of reach.  Must we check our email and Facebook pages during the movie, at the play or concert, or at church?  Could we stop texting during a meal so that we actually converse, face-to-face, with the other persons at the table?  Perhaps we need a reminder to respect those we are physically with by giving them our undivided attention.  By the same token, is it really necessary to conduct cell phone visits in public places for all to hear personal conversations?

                Finally, have we lost respect for ourselves?  One only has to move through life, encounter and observe people to ask such a question.  What happened to respecting ourselves enough to maintain so much as our personal appearance?  Have we become so obsessed with being comfortable, casual and carefree that mediocrity has overtaken us?  What happened to dressing out of respect for the occasion, or the place or those you were to see – at the funeral, the wedding, the doctor, the church, even work?

                The reassuring thing about all of the above-mentioned situations is that it is not everyone, but it certainly seems the trend toward being uncivil continues to march forward at a fast pace.  Mary Wortley Montagu correctly noted, “Civility costs nothing and buys everything.”       How about we paraphrase Number 110 of Washington’s transcription and “labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial fire” called civility?

The War on Christmas Greetings

Sam Terry
December 2011

            Americans have been waging a war about Christmas.  Articles, blogs and editorials espousing one view or another can be found filling the pages of magazines, newspapers and websites.  Social media outlets have been inundated with postings declaring allegiance to the phrase “Merry Christmas” and proclaiming that other seasonal phrases are not appropriate.   Some sources would have you believe that if one doesn’t use the time-honored phrase “Merry Christmas” one surely cannot be a Christian.  Some shoppers insist they won’t patronize a business if the store’s employees say “Happy Holidays” instead of wishing them a “Merry Christmas.”   

            The word holiday is derived from the words Holy Day, originally meant to reference a religious date of significance, but in modern terms, a day of rest, relaxation and observance away from one’s work, school, or routine.  Americans enjoy a calendar filled with various holidays, including the quintessential American holidays of Independence Day and Thanksgiving Day.  We round out each autumn season with Thanksgiving and welcome early winter with Christmas and the New Year.  Our Jewish friends observe the minor feast of Hanukkah during this same time period while many persons, primarily those of African descent, celebrate Kwanzaa between Christmas and New Years.   Simply put, it is the holiday season and the phrase “Happy Holidays” is an easy way to cover them all. 

            “Happy Holidays” as a phrase was introduced to the world in 1942 by Irving Berlin in a song of the same name which was the featured selection in the movie Holiday Inn starring Bing Crosby, Marjorie Reynolds and Fred Astaire.  The classic movie was set at an inn open only for holidays throughout the year and featured other musical hits such as “Easter Parade,” and “White Christmas.” 

            Merry Christmas” has long been a standard greeting for the December 25th holiday, agreed by all as a date we observe the birth of Jesus, though there is no record of when the birth actually occurred.  Unfortunately, many people today think of the greeting as Christian, while history proves otherwise.  In fact, “Merry Christmas” was not frequently used more than one hundred years ago and the people who frowned upon the phrase were Christians.  You see, we now think of “merry” as meaning jovial, cheerful, jolly or outgoing.  But to Victorians in the 19th century, “merry” had much different connotations.  “Merry” was a term meaning tipsy or drunk.  The group most noted for frowning on the word “merry” being added to Christmas were followers of Methodism, and they preferred “Happy Christmas” as the appropriate greeting.

            “Happy Christmas” was the standard holiday greeting throughout the 19th century.  In the original version of Clement Clark Moore’s 1823 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” the piece ends with Santa exclaiming “Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.”  In the latter half of the 20th century publishers saw fit to alter Moore’s writing by changing the name to “The Night Before Christmas” and the ending line was changed to read “Merry Christmas” instead of the original phrase.  “Happy Christmas” remains popular in England today and it is the preferred holiday greeting of Queen Elizabeth II.

            “Season’s Greetings” has been the staple holiday sentiment for cards many years, but it, too, has been modified.  In the 19th century, “Compliments of the Season” was a popular printed or written greeting along with “Christmas Greetings.”  The two eventually melded together to become “The Season’s Greetings” which was later shortened to the familiar “Season’s Greetings.”

            For a few years now there has been a perennial campaign about the use of the abbreviated form of Christmas, “Xmas.”  Without fail, there will be demands that the abbreviation not be used because it is “taking Christ out of Christmas.”  This is ironic because those who have studied Greek will recall that X is the first letter of the word Christ, written in Greek as, XPESTES, or more accurately Χριστ?ς. 

            Christmas is an important religious holiday and it is also important to our culture, and yes, it is important to our economy.  We declare that Christmas has become too commercialized yet the same complaint can be found in newspaper columns from more than 140 years ago.  Post-Civil War Americans began the gift-giving frenzy when the industrial revolution made mass production a reality.  In the last century, Kentucky author Allen M. Trout complained in his 1949 Christmas article that the holiday was far too commercial.  It seems some things haven’t changed, though our forms of marketing have changed because of technology.

Christ should be kept in Christmas; after all, it observes Jesus’ birth.  At the same time, we are in a season of holidays with varying significance to different people.  Does wishing others a “Merry Christmas” make the day more holy?  Does wishing someone a “Merry Christmas” make the speaker a more ardent follower of Christ?  Realistically, all of the people filling the malls and stores, shopping online and partaking of the celebrations are not Christian.  Many of us prefer sending greetings that are Christmas cards, and gazing at our illuminated Christmas trees and that’s not likely to change. 

Perhaps we should stop worrying about whether someone wishes us a “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays” or what greeting retail chain stores print on their signs and shopping bags.   There are many things in our world to be angry about.  We need to be angry about adults who are supposed to be mentoring and helping mold young boys into productive adults but who molest and abuse them.  We need to be angry about greed and mismanagement of our country’s resources which have put us on the brink of collapse.  We need to be angry about government officials who concern themselves with personal gain rather than the good of the country and its citizens.  We need to be angry about those who aren’t good stewards of the earth, the only place humankind has to live.  We need to be angry about not having a cure for cancer or AIDS.  Let’s be angry that in this land of plenty, few can afford the exorbitant fees for medical care and are held hostage by insurance premiums.  Let’s be angry that among us are children and adults who are hungry, or homeless, or outcast.  Let’s be upset about the things that truly matter.  Perhaps what those of us who celebrate Christmas as a Christian holiday should do is attempt to be more Christ-like and an example of Christ’s principles.  


 

Visitor Comments

Submitted By: Nana MaderSubmitted: 12/19/2012
Well, that's it for my fireside reading this week; I am printing out your articles and putting them on the coffee table- hopefully with a hot rum toddy for my cold - with any luck it will continue & slow me down during this countdown week ~~~ Thank you Sam for sharing with us & a Merry Christmas to you !


Submitted By: Eddie WilsonSubmitted: 12/29/2012
Thank you Sam for all the articles shared. I love the old houses as you know and always saddened to see them go. Our Wilson-Terry house needs much work but it is still a pleasure to think of all the people that had lives there since 1920.


 
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