A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Constance Alexander: Veteran Hopkinsville journalist says there is no substitute for shoe leather reporting

“People who leave great footprints in the community do that just by showing up.”  Leaving great footprints starts with showing up So says Jennifer P. Brown, a Hopkinsville woman who knows about getting things done. The veteran journalist illustrates her point by telling a story about an editor assigning a young reporter to the courthouse beat. When the rookie asks, “Do you want me to go online?”...

Constance Alexander: Asking the right questions prepares students for careers that don’t yet exist

A surefire way to ignite a spark of indignation into Taylor Clements’ brown eyes is to call him a “Math Person.” True, he graduated from Murray State University with a major in Mathematics, but he also minored in music, played trumpet in the Racer Band, and was a Resident Counselor in the Commonwealth Honors Academy program. He did not define himself according to his major. He remembers his mother’s...

Constance Alexander: Murray State University’s CHA offers an uncommon wealth of millennial talent

For the past three years, I’ve been honored to be a faculty member of Murray State University’s Commonwealth Honors Academy (CHA), which was launched in 2001. Every year as I’ve watched teens arrive on campus, I have been struck by the differences between the Baby Boomers of my youth and Gen Z post-Millennials. While we frittered our summers away when we were that age, these kids are...

Constance Alexander: Doris Day, a paragon of ‘good girl’ virtue that many young women aspired to be

C. Alexander_Doris Day
When I was growing up, there was no such thing as middle school. In fact, grades six, seven, and eight might have been called Purgatory because those adolescent years were somewhere between heaven and hell. Pre-teen girls were filled with giggles and tears, aching with non-specific longings and precise aversions. We were curious about things the nuns called “near occasions of sin,” but uncertain...

Constance Alexander: AIR program helps small towns strengthen community, economy

I, wife of a coffin maker, have no idea where I will be buried, or even if I want a final resting place. These days, I’m leaning toward cremation, with ashes to be scattered maybe on Cape Cod, or else strewn from the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge. So when a classmate at a workshop I attended this week declares, “From the time I was 8 or 9, I knew where I would be buried,” it caught my attention. The...

Constance Alexander: City’s Quilt shows a testament to Paducah’s planning and community cooperation

As a person who failed Home Economics in high school, I have hesitated to attend the quilt show in Paducah for years. But when my niece drove all the way from Montana to attend the springtime extravaganza, I realized I needed to get over my feelings of inadequacy regarding needlework. It was time for me to see the show. What I expected and what I experienced are two very different things. The day I...

Constance Alexander: Even Jeopardy! champ James Holzhauer would have trouble with this right answer

You know the routine. You forgot your password, and you didn’t write it down because you were sure you’d never forget it. Without a password manager to secure your digital life, you finally surrender, call the 800 number, and subject yourself to answering your very own magic questions to establish your identity so you can get a new password. Answering question #1 is easy. #2, a piece of cake....

Constance Alexander: No application required for one of the best jobs in Kentucky

Jeff Worley’s job history is as checkered as the shirt he wears in the ID he carried when he was a taxicab driver in Wichita. Since those days in the 1970s, he has worked as an offset pressman, folk singer, research magazine editor, and university professor. Now retired from University of Kentucky, a new career opportunity recently came his way, via a phone call from the Kentucky Arts Council. “You’ve...

Constance Alexander: Mark Twain might be pleased with this poetry celebration that’s ahead of its times

When Mark Twain declared, “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Kentucky, because everything there happens 20 years after it happens anywhere else,” he had no way of knowing that one Kentucky community has taken the lead in observing April as National Poetry Month. For the second year in a row, the Calloway County Public Library is hosting a public reading of poems by Kentucky writers...

Constance Alexander: At the end of a long, arduous literary journey, the writer resists ground rush

The Irish Blessing poem begins with the line, “May the road rise up to meet you.” It goes on to hope the wind will ever be at your back, and that the sun will shine upon your face, adding a wish for “rains to fall soft upon your fields.” In other words: May your journey be successful. This little prayer comes back to me as I struggle to finish the last chapter of a novel I have been writing,...

Constance Alexander: A host of golden daffodils tells stories of the past in Kentucky’s Golden Pond

In springtime, daffodils cluster around invisible houses in what used to be Golden Pond. A sharp eye might spot remnants of foundations from family homes, or a pair of maple trees that once flanked a front porch. Random artifacts like these offer silent testimony from the hundreds of families displaced from that close-knit community when the Tennessee Valley Authority created Land Between the Lakes. According...

Constance Alexander: Sharing some of my mother’s family secrets in honor of St. Patrick’s Day

My mother, whose maiden name was Kelly, claimed that her family was definitely “lace curtain” Irish. Asked for further clarification, she explained that her Father’s branch of the Kelly family was refined, genteel, and upwardly mobile. That was a good thing. Lace Curtain. The other end of the spectrum, Shanty Irish, was not a good thing. As if she had conducted a sociological study, Mother decreed...

Constance Alexander: ‘Poetry Minutes’ look to inspire all would-be poets during National Poetry Month

Although we are not even half-way in, it already feels as if the month of March has been sitting on top us too long. Like a big, wet dog — sloppy, drooling, and shedding fleas – it just won’t go away. But April, National Poetry Month, is just around the corner and WKMS-FM, the National Public Radio affiliate in Murray, is gearing up to celebrate. The Academy of American Poets inaugurated...

Constance Alexander: March is almost here, spring’s at the door, so a poem to celebrate good days galore

The outlook’s not brilliant on Main Street today, With too many topics and too much to say. This calls for a poem with a rhyme and a beat, And couplets that tempt you to tap both your feet. It soon will be spring and March first’s almost here, So Dairy Queen opens. That should raise a cheer. In spite of the weather, we stick to our mission And line up for ice cream, a cherished tradition. Blizzard...

Constance Alexander: Medical exploitation of minorities has a long history in America

She never asked for much, and would likely have been happy to see her kids grow up and do well for themselves. She might have hoped they’d get more education, have more opportunities than she and her husband had had. Maybe, instead of a lifetime of backbreaking work growing tobacco, the future of her children would include jobs with decent pay, doing work that was not restricted to tasks white people...

Constance Alexander: The best advice for writing a weekly column remains: Just be yourself

If Russell Baker had a fan club, I would be a card-carrying member. I’d been a Baker groupie since high school, when I started reading his weekly essays in the Sunday New York Times. Last week, upon learning that he’d died, I went searching for a letter he wrote to me at the beginning of my career. I’d written to Mr. Baker regarding a column in which he mentioned he was taking a few weeks...

Constance Alexander: Library space is important to any community, the need for more is a no-brainer

Thirty-one years ago, before moving to Murray, I checked out the public library because, to me, it is one of the most important places in any community. Back in 1988, Margaret Trevathan headed up the operation with visionary leadership, a firm hand, and tireless grace. It was clear that she and the staff applied creativity and hard work to make sure community needs were met. The high standards and...

Constance Alexander: How many more canaries are in the mine when it comes to sexual harassment?

A little more than a year ago, it became public that then-Speaker of the Kentucky House, Jeff Hoover, had secretly settled a sexual harassment claim with a twenty-something female legislative aide. While Hoover denied the charge, he did admit to sending inappropriate text messages, insisting they were “consensual,” according to an Associated Press report by Adam Beam. The secret agreement was signed...

Constance Alexander: Sharing fond memories of tripping the light fantastic with the divine Mr. M

It wasn’t my mother’s idea to sign me up for Friday night ballroom dance classes at the local YMCA. The mother of my best friend, Anne, had suggested it, and my mother must have agreed. After all, Anne and I were in eighth grade and our class at St. Francis was all girls. It was high time we developed social skills for high school, where there would be boys, dances, and dating, a Trifecta of temptations,...

Constance Alexander: Dual exhibitions celebrate art and life of renowned Kentucky painter Joy Thomas

Joy Thomas was petite and soft-spoken, with a light southern accent sweet as honey on homemade biscuits. When it came to her artwork, however, she was no lightweight; she flexed every muscle. A renowned portrait painter with commissions in every sector of business, government, academia, and finance, she understood the practical aspects of self-employment, while always sensitive to the subtleties of...