A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky by Heart: Lexington entrepreneur Katie Thompson providing unique ‘Kentucky’ experiences

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist After Katie Thompson graduated from Paul Dunbar High School eight years ago, she set off from her hometown of Lexington and lived in a couple of Kentucky’s finest small towns. Katie spent four years in Danville, graduating from Centre College with a degree in history and international relations. From there, she moved to Bardstown to take her first full-time position,...

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

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 people from Kentucky can start with...

Kentucky by Heart: Exploring Kentucky’s role in War of 1812; Independence Day memories from Claryville

After thinking about a Kentucky connection to Independence Day for this week’s column, I recalled hearing some intriguing facts about America’s War of 1812. The conflict included a highly significant number from the state who served militarily, including a two-time governor of Kentucky, Isaac Shelby. Additionally, another iconic Kentuckian used his governmental authority to push the United States...

Kentucky by Heart: From Lincoln to Ali to Henry Clay, everyone has their favorite colorful Kentuckian

Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared at KyForward.com on July 4, 2017 By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Who is your favorite Kentuckian from the annals of history books? Consider a person you find particularly fascinating who was Kentucky-born or, if not, made their mark while living in the state. Your choice may be one of sterling reputation, as mine is…or one of questionable repute—or...

Kentucky by Heart: Katelynn Stinnett Memorial Ride, encouraging students through chess, new book

This Saturday, motorcycle bikers will once again ride across the nation for the 10th Annual Katelynn Stinnett National Memorial Ride to raise awareness of child abuse and to raise money for its victims, according to spokesperson Sheila Shain of Shepherdsville. Sheila Shain “Every day in the United States, five children are murdered by their caregivers and their survivors are further traumatized by...

Kentucky by Heart: Positive experiences at Camp Ernst leave lasting memories for thousands

I recently attended, as an alumnus, a celebration of the 90th anniversary of the YMCA Camp Ernst camp near Burlington in Boone County. I participated at the camp for only one summer, in 1972, as a cabin counselor, but my memories are vivid and positive. The rich experiences of working with children during that short time helped prepare me for teaching elementary students for several decades. Over the...

Kentucky by Heart: Paris residents rescue small dog named Guy — now an adopted member of royalty

Paris residents Charlie and Elaine Fuerniss have made loving contacts with literally thousands of dogs while working as animal rescuers for more than three decades. This while both attend to full-time jobs in Lexington. Guy was adopted by actress Meghan Markle during the time she spent in Canada filming the TV show, Suits. The adoption, and Guy, became an international subject of conversation when...

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

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 roadside make it that way. On that trip,...

Kentucky by Heart: ‘Old Photos’ Facebook pages offer nostalgic look back at people and places

A while back, I came across a cool Facebook group page called Old Photos of Northern Kentucky. I immediately got hooked and now visit the site frequently, often posting, my columns there. I see it as an especially “cool” and enjoyable site because the nostalgic images, captions, and individual postings are remembrances of growing up in the area in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and early ‘70s. Community...

Kentucky by Heart: ‘Dream Catcher’ Chase Fulcher helping Henderson neighbors achieve their dreams

Chase Fulcher decided long ago to live his life fueled by burning passion and a desire to improve others’ lives. He also understood unrelenting hard work and intense preparation were the best way of reaching his major life goals. Those timeless ingredients for success have worked quite well for this gentleman from the Ohio River town of Henderson, and consequently for the people of his Henderson...

Kentucky by Heart: Commonwealth was well-represented in the late 1800s by some colorful writers

Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared at KyForward.com on May 10, 2016 By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Northern Kentuckian John Uri Lloyd is a sterling example of the “local color” fiction writers who became part of the movement starting in the 1880s in American literature. Defining the term, William S. Ward, in his A Literary History of Kentucky, noted that local colorists “were...

Kentucky by Heart: Former EKU sports information director Karl Park finds new outlet in horse racing

If you live anywhere in the Richmond area or have been a keen observer of college sports in Kentucky for several decades, the name Karl Park is probably familiar. As Eastern Kentucky University’s sports information director from 1970 until he retired from that role in 2004, his dedication to EKU and quality service to the sporting public garnered him a Colonel’s share of awards along the way, not...

Kentucky by Heart: Some thoughts and musings about Kentucky, the special place we call home

In the course of writing a weekly column called Kentucky by Heart, a book series about everyday heroes in Kentucky, reviewing books of Kentucky’s authors or about the state, and just plain possessing a deep affinity for the place I’ve lived most of my life, you might guess that my Bluegrass mind-set hums continuously. You would be correct. This week, I’ll share some of my thoughts about this...

Kentucky by Heart: Louisville teenager motivated by helping others, inspires ‘random acts of kindness’

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist When Shareen Dunn used her Advent calendar as a guide to encourage her son, fifth-grader Andrew, to do simple and loving gestures for others, she often provided some sort of tangible reward. Today, 15-year-old Andrew, a freshman student at Louisville’s duPont Manual High School, doesn’t need those items to motivate him. What spurs him today to do kind things...

Kentucky by Heart: Kentuckians share their thoughts on what makes their college that ‘special’ school

Note: Following is the second of a two-part article about individuals sharing comments about their “special college” in Kentucky. When the topic of special colleges in Kentucky is brought up, Erika Mahlbacher offers her Danville alma mater, Centre College, as a shining example. Erika Mahlbacher She loved the enthusiasm of her teachers. “My dreaded history class requirement turned out to be one...

Kentucky by Heart: What makes your college that ‘special’ school? Kentuckians share their thoughts

Note: Following is the first of a two-part article about individuals sharing comments about their “special college” in Kentucky. It was always a given that I’d go to college after graduating from Campbell County High School back in 1971. The best I could tell, there were few in the Flairty or Fryer lineage who set forth on that path, so I guess I was a bit of a pioneer. Understandably, the particular...

Kentucky by Heart: Father Ralph Beiting’s impact extends far beyond the organization he founded

I do a lot of reading — and often write about — Kentuckians who’ve made a positive difference for our state. One person who I believe often gets overlooked is Catholic priest Father Ralph Beiting, who died at age 88 in 2012. He’s perhaps most easily recognized as the founder, in 1962, of the noted Christian Appalachian Project (CAP), called a “nonprofit, nondenominational organization...

Kentucky by Heart: Inspired by movie, Jessica Collins sets out to provide all children ‘A Place to Sleep’

“You’re never too young to make a difference,” said Jessica Collins, 19, a nursing student at Western Kentucky University. She means those words now, and she meant them at age ten when she gave roots to a program that donates beds to children who lack such a basic resource. The project is called “A Place to Sleep,” and since 2010, about 1500 bed sets have gone to deserving young people, mostly...

Kentucky by Heart: Remembering 13 of Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes we’ve lost since the project began

Over one hundred written profiles have appeared in the four volumes of the Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes series, a project I began working on in 2006 and consequently published the first book in 2008. I’m currently about half way toward the completion of the fifth volume and hope to release it in the spring of 2019. Not to sound trite, but it’s been a labor of love, and along with it, I feel a special...

Kentucky by Heart: While known more for basketball, state played key role in baseball’s most tragic story

Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared at KyForward.com April 26, 2016 By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist When we’re talking sports in the Bluegrass, the state is likely most known as a basketball and horse racing state. That is well-established. Don’t look now, but in recent years, many Kentuckians playing baseball have worked their way into the major leagues. Names like Joe Blanton,...