Kentucky by Heart: Delightful seasonal book by Christensen paints vivid picture of Bluegrass state

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Evelyn Christensen is painting the Bluegrass State red for children with her delightful seasonal book offering, The Twelve Days of Christmas in Kentucky. Chock full of colorful pictures that are illustrated masterfully by Kent Culotta, along with including a vast assortment of revealing facts about the Commonwealth, the 32-page book serves as a travel guide, a...

Kentucky by Heart: When communing with nature, sometimes a freight train really is just a freight train

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Several years back, Bill Bryson authored a book called A Walk in the Woods. In it, he gave the reader a humorous look at him and his friend’s not-ready-for-prime-time attempt to hike a significant section of America’s challenging 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail. Fatigue, the elements, and simply being away from home comforts combined to bring extreme irritability...

Kentucky by Heart: Breast cancer is ‘common denominator’ in group’s shared journey

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist It was 1999 in Lexington, and five women who attended the Southern Acres Christian Church made it a habit to have lunch together. They usually enjoyed the food and, for sure, they enjoyed each other. But what mostly brought them together was a health issue each had, and it brought out the best in them. “Breast cancer was the common denominator in our group,”...

Kentucky by Heart: Corns, ‘poor boy from Lewis County,’ made historic impact on education system

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Judge Ray Corns, of the Franklin County Circuit Court, handed down one of the most far-reaching judicial decisions ever rendered in the state of Kentucky—precipitating a dramatic change in the state’s education system. It was the passing of the Kentucky Educational Reform Act (KERA) in 1990. The legislative act occurred after the judge’s 1988 decision ruling...

Kentucky by Heart: Some personal reading recommendations to get you through the fall season

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist My personal reading choices have little to do with the time of the year it happens to be. In fact, I just finished Louisville novelist Bill Noel’s new book, a Christmas story called Silent Night (Hydra Publications). Good reading is good reading, any time. My literary material decisions usually answer this question in the affirmative: Is the book about Kentucky...

Kentucky by Heart: Far from intimidating, former Clark educator Pace was a warm problem solver

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist My early perception of Donald Pace, long-time Clark County educator who died on on Sept. 26, was that he was a crusty, no-nonsense kind of a man whom I would find intimidating if I worked as a teacher under his leadership as my principal. At the time I started my career, I was glad that I taught under a few easy-going, though effective, administrators. My impressions...

Kentucky by Heart: My only sibling is not only something special; he is one of the best

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist I could see clearly when my brother and I were growing up that we had few common interests other than having the same parents and living under the same roof. Our family lived on a small farm in Claryville and raised tobacco and a fairly large garden. Mike embraced the lifestyle—especially the part where he got to do tractor work. In contrast, I worked the crops...

Kentucky by Heart: Writing, faith in God help Rita Setness cope with unexpected loss of son

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Writing a book called Surviving Child Loss was, for Nicholasville resident Rita Setness, part of her personal therapy in attempting to survive the loss of a child. In fact, her writing about son Jonathon began soon after his unexpected death at age 26 in December 2013. As one might expect, the emotional blow of her son’s sudden passing tossed Rita head long into...

Kentucky by Heart: From east to west, parks to lakes to caves, there is much to love about our state

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist When Rich Dailey talks about what he likes about his adopted state of Kentucky, it sounds like he sees the place as somewhat of a pleasant sanctuary. “Silence and solitude are certainly not unique to Kentucky,” said Dailey, “but they are the first two qualities that I experienced after I moved from a noisy suburb of Akron, Ohio, to the stillness of a cabin...

Kentucky by Heart: Some interesting facts you may not know about our first (and fifth) governor

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist “Who was the first Kentucky governor?” is the question I’ve asked fourth graders for years as part of my impromptu state history trivia moments as both a regular and a sub teacher. Most will respond that the answer is Isaac Shelby. You can bet the kids were and are ready for the follow-up question: “Who was the fifth Kentucky governor?” That would also...

Kentucky by Heart: Recruiting ‘rockstar’ David Armstrong paid his dues on road to success

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist No one should ever question David Armstrong, former Western Kentucky Hilltopper quarterback, UK coaching staff member, and now a football recruiting scout’s willingness to pay his dues—and to be patient–in order to find eventual lasting success. That practice started as a youngster growing up in his Brentwood neighborhood in Nashville, where David’s...

Kentucky by Heart: One man’s top 10 bucket list of books not to be missed — what are your favorites?

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist My love of reading Kentucky-related books, particularly non-fiction, started as a child. Inspired by my father’s interest in showing our small family the people and places of the state, I devoured the biographies in the tiny Grant’s Lick Elementary School library dealing with the Commonwealth. I read books about Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln, Henry Clay, Mary...

Kentucky by Heart: Life-defining roles of student and teacher a matter for both joy and excitement

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist When schools go back in session for another year, as they are now, it always triggers memories for me. That includes for both my life as a student in grades one through twelve, plus as a full-time classroom teacher for 28 years. I can still see myself on my first day of school during the last part of August, 1959. I would be attending Grant’s Lick Elementary School,...

Kentucky by Heart: Murray State historian Duane Bolin approaches each day with joy

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist The first time I met Dr. Duane Bolin, history professor at Murray State University since 1996, was when we participated in a special book signing event in Frankfort a few years ago. It involved Kentucky Monthly writers who had also authored books. I quickly found Duane to have a friendly spirit and a deep, working knowledge of Kentucky’s history. That interested...

Kentucky by Heart: Moving and marriage, summer dramas, show major life changes a risky business

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Has anybody seen Suzanne’s blow dryer? Or what about those important documents I lost during all the excitement? Similar perplexing questions have been flying around daily in my life during the last six weeks or so. Yes, yes. So, under the heading “Life Changes in a Huge Way,” let me tell you why the changes are labeled huge in this guy’s realm. First, at...

Kentucky by Heart: Life’s detours made destination more satisfying for preacher Dean Brewer

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist This is a reprint of a column that was originally published on Aug. 11, 2015 The preacher at Pleasant Ridge Christian Church, in small and rural Cowan, Kentucky, found his way there after a long and circuitous path-—not unlike his drive every Sunday from his Lexington home to the tiny Fleming County community. Except, to get to this place in his life, the path...

Kentucky by Heart: Poring over Kentucky’s past gives new meaning to the present, future

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist This is a reprint of a column originally published on June 21, 2015. I typically write about contemporary life, but once in a while I like to pore over items from Kentucky’s past, especially when I feel a real connection. This particular column will have that focus. A while back, my Aunt Sue sent me a local obituary piece, an involved story from the Kentucky...

Kentucky by Heart: Enterprising Katie Taylor, Grandpa Marvin ‘buds’ in more ways than one

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist This is a reprint of a Kentucky by Heart column that originally appeared on June 23, 2015 “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” –-Masunoba Fukuoka Even at age 78, Marvin Taylor has embraced the idea of using text messages to communicate, if only for one reason. He loves it when he gets...

Kentucky by Heart: Old-fashioned teamwork at center of Louise Rhodus’ path to success

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnnist This is a reprint of a Kentucky by Heart column that first appeared on June 9, 2015 Louise Rhodus followed a circuitous path to becoming an expert and award-winning golfer. She found out early the importance of working within the constraints of old-fashioned teamwork. Born in 1928, she was raised as the middle child of 13 brothers and sisters. Lots of food and...

Kentucky by Heart: Teacher’s national anthem performance remains memorable

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist This column is a reprint of a Kentucky by Heart published on May 26, 2015. Occasionally, we find ourselves right smack in the presence of an unexpected event that influences our lives for a long time. When it happens, it’s hopefully a positive one. One such act, happening three decades ago, was illuminating for me, and I still enjoy sharing what happened. It was...