A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky by Heart: In a divisive world, optimism for Kentucky’s future remains, because of its people

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist I recently was interviewed for a podcast by Bill Goodman, CEO of the Kentucky Humanities Council, about my book series, Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes. I considered it an honor to be asked to share, both as an opportunity to contribute to KHC, an organization that seeks to highlight the best in our citizens’ values, and also for the interest Bill demonstrated in...

Kentucky by Heart: Historic Keene might not be fancy, but it’s home… and always will be

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist For nice rides in the country, I often take Highway 169 in the central Kentucky part of the Bluegrass area from my home in Woodford County to Jessamine County. The grassy and rolling terrain of the area is one of my favorite scenic tours. Small farms with grazing Thoroughbred horses and cattle, an abundance of pretty homes, and historical stone walls along the...

Kentucky by Heart: Lincoln County native Red Foley was first Kentuckian in Country Music Hall of Fame

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist My parents were country music fans, and while growing up, I admit that I endured their choice of radio station programming. I’ve mellowed a lot in my adult years, though, and in a recent Ken Burns country music special series, I actually enjoyed hearing the twangy sounds I abhorred back in the 1960s. Red Foley (By Crossroads TV Productions, Inc., Springfield,...

Kentucky by Heart: Although mostly virtual this year, the opening of school brings back many memories

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist The opening of schools, though mostly virtually these days, always recalls personal memories for me, both as a student and as a teacher. But my first day in school as a first-grader in Mrs. Dorothy’s class at Grants Lick Elementary, in southern Campbell County, in the fall of 1959, is the most impactful. I can clearly picture the experience even now. It seems...

Kentucky by Heart: Many Kentuckians have made their mark in fields of science and technology

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist Science and technology. . .in the Bluegrass State?? Over the years, Kentucky hasn’t always been given credit for its part in the furtherance of science and technology in the U.S., but after I did a little research this week, I discovered that the state has some real credibility in the area. There are a goodly number of people born in Kentucky who have been, or...

Kentucky by Heart: Author Kim Huston’s Bardstown offers intimate look at community’s allure

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist When it comes to choosing an invigorating location for Kentucky day trips (or half-day trip), my wife, Suzanne, and I often choose Bardstown and the Nelson County area. It’s an easy drive of less than an hour from our home in Versailles, and the lure to go back, again and again, is strong. We are drawn, first, to the unique scenery of the Knobs region as we approach...

Kentucky by Heart: Multi-talented Skeeter Davis — a true story about a Kentucky girl making good

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Stripping tobacco as a young boy back in the 1960s was never something that excited me, but I had to get used to the fact that we, as a family, would be doing just that every fall in an especially built room inside the outside car garage. I also didn’t get excited about my parents’ choice of music on the radio —- country, and it was the twangy type. But frequently...

Kentucky by Heart: Encounter with baseball great Pee Wee Reese one very special moment in a life of many

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist When Louisville’s amazing baseball Hall of Famer Pee Wee Reese posed with me for a picture standing on the dais of a Cystic Fibrosis recognition event back in the winter of 1988, it seemed like a pretty cool thing… but only one of many cool things that have happened in my life. Truth is, being both a baseball fan and a baseball card collector since my childhood,...

Kentucky by Heart: Kentuckians throughout history faced similar challenges to those we face today

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist I find it enjoyable to look for inspiring Kentuckians, often unsung, from the past who acted nobly in handling challenges similar to what we face today. Recently, I picked up Bill Cunningham’s book, Flames in the Wind, one I’d read some years ago. You may know Bill as a retired Kentucky Supreme Court Justice, but he has also authored several historical books...

Kentucky by Heart: In-person school is best, but we must have the resolve to do it safely and right

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist From my perspective as a teacher, getting Kentucky’s elementary/secondary young people back into physical classrooms in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is important and for many reasons. Obviously, students need to learn and grow mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally, and for most—a live classroom setting works best. And as any experienced teacher...

Kentucky by Heart: Part two of a selection from coming children’s book; Joey and honey balls

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part selection from Steve Flairty’s in-progress children’s book, tentatively titled Kentucky Billy and Other Stories of Character Virtue By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist Monday morning, Mrs. Fielder stood in her empty classroom near her desk, finishing the coffee she had carried from the teachers’ lounge. After a restful weekend, she...

Kentucky by Heart: A sneak-peek of coming children’s book starting with Joey and honey balls

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part selection from Steve Flairty’s in-progress children’s book, tentatively titled Kentucky Billy and Other Stories of Character Virtue By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist Joey’s eyes got bigger as his stash of honey balls grew in number, now seven. His classmates were big buyers today, he thought “Oh boy,” Joey whispered to himself...

Kentucky by Heart: Versailles resident’s watchful eye helps avert major disaster, helps him truly know faith

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Ted Hill must have felt like his own version of The Man Who Knew Too Much. The former Boeing and later Sylvania Osram employee found himself anxiety-ridden while sitting as a passenger at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) awaiting his Delta Flight 1661 to San Diego over sixteen years ago. He sat at a window overlooking the wing on his...

Kentucky by Heart: Amid horrors of racial intolerance in post-Civil War Ky., some stood and said no more

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist In an attempt to further educate myself on the roots of today’s social/racial unrest, particularly in regard to how it relates to Kentucky, I pulled from my shelves Dr. George C. Wright’s illuminating book, Racial Violence in Kentucky, 1865-1940, published in 1990. I intended to read it long ago, partly because I know George from including him in volume two...

Kentucky by Heart: Although the stage has changed, Lexington History Museum’s ‘encore’ plays on

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist When the Lexington History Museum “left the building” in 2012, there were many who figured there would be no encore. That looked to be true when the funding soon began to dry up. But the encore did come, and it’s still playing to a highly receptive audience, even though the stage has changed. “We went through the seven stages of grief; we came through...

Kentucky by Heart: Stories behind names of high schools reveal unique look at Kentucky’s past

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist While recently looking over information about public high schools in Kentucky, it occurred to me that a lot of them are not named after their locations. Most are, however, with one example being in Pike County, where there is “Pike County Central High School” and “Phelps High School” (among others in the county). Both indicate locations with their names. But...

Kentucky by Heart: Celebrating Kentucky’s own James Bond, and all of the state’s ‘overcomers’

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Reading and writing about overcomers from Kentucky is a passion of mine. Overcomers are often fueled by faith and an amazing persistence, along with the capacity to lay feelings of bitterness and self-pity aside. They don’t come “a dime a dozen,” and celebrating their stories, I believe, can inspire others with their struggles. A good place to find such noble...

Kentucky by Heart: Precious time in the family garden is heaven, a release not to be mistaken for a chore

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist I like gardening a lot, and I don’t want to mess it up by becoming too good at it. Rather, I just want it to be fun and available… and only whenever I take a notion to indulge. I typically spend a good portion of the day doing writing activities in my study, so a few hours or more spent working outside in the family’s green and brown, one-acre lot is often...

Kentucky by Heart: Authors West, Brackney offer sordid details of two Kentucky murder mysteries

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist My usual amount of reading is a lot, but with staying healthy at home to avoid Covid-19, I’ve upped the load. I recently devoured a few non-fiction books about murder cases taking place in Kentucky, one written by Gary P. West and the other by Peter Brackney. West’s book dealt with one that happened in 1975 near Elizabethtown (commonly called “E-town”)....

Kentucky by Heart: Tiny Wickliffe community has a lot of ‘Hart’ and many treasured souls

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Wickliffe, Kentucky, sets along the Mississippi River, a couple miles from where the Ohio River flows into “Father of the Waters.” The town is a part of the Jackson Purchase region in the westernmost part of the state. According to the 2010 United States Census Bureau, the Ballard County place has 688 residents and a total area of 1.2 miles. From my perspective,...