A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Constance Alexander: Graduation day marks transition from higher ed. to hire education

Saturday is commencement day at Murray State University. Approximately 730 graduates, decked out in blue and gold, will receive diplomas. As each one walks across the stage, arm extended for the farewell handshake, it might be assumed that their focus is shifting from higher education to getting hired, earning a living, and making a life. At the same time diplomas are being distributed on campus, Breanna...

Constance Alexander: Once there were three siblings — but one grew up to make an ambrosia centerpiece

Of all the Alexander daughters, who would have thought Pamela would be the one? We’re talking about Pamela Jane, the middle child, known for secretly ordering six packs from the local liquor store and having them delivered to the house when the parents were out of town. This is the Alexander sibling who bullied her compliant younger sisters into doing her after-dinner chores. Unbeknownst to the parents,...

Constance Alexander: Exploring history of local libraries offers look into the hearts of communities

“Our Towns” by Deborah Fallows and James Fallows, does not take long to get to the importance of the local public library in the community. On page 6 of the account of the couple’s 100,000-mile journey into the heart of America, Deborah Fallows declares unequivocally that in any town the library is her “favorite institution.” Ms. Fallows goes on to explain why: “You see the people, programs,...

Constance Alexander: Music at the heart of Norton Cancer Center therapy helping patients find joy

Google “heartbeat sounds” and you’ll find an array of audio and video possibilities, ranging from a mere minute to a full twelve hours of lub-dub, lub-dub. There are soporific pulsations to pamper babies longing for the comfort of the womb and beats to becalm insomniacs. The most unusual and heartening sounds are associated with music therapist Brian Schreck. In his current position at Norton...

Constance Alexander: Making the jump into the unknown and believing in love with precious baby

Twin boys. Exciting news. A double blessing. Megan Scholl Lindberg and her husband were thrilled, as was their little girl, Malena. Preparations for the births began. “They were totally healthy and growing on track,” Megan recalls. At 34 weeks, the doctor said it was unlikely that the babies would stay put all the way to the target of 38 weeks. Two weeks later, the babies had gotten smaller and...

Constance Alexander: Murray Art Guild’s mosaic garden is inspired by hope and awash in color

When Murray Art Guild’s Hope Garden was officially unveiled last week, a gloomy, gray day burst into vibrant color. Eight participants from W.A.T.C.H., a day training program for developmentally and intellectually disabled adults, were on site to celebrate the installation of the community mosaic and marvel over the individual tiles they had made to create public art. With guidance by dedicated volunteers...

Constance Alexander: A look at the psychology behind perfume, making sense of the scents

When my brother was in college, one of his girlfriends was a Chi Omega who’d been homecoming queen at Penn State. With a complexion smooth as rose petals and a Cindy Crawford beauty mark above the corner of her pouty lips, Judy was blond and gorgeous. Not only did she – quoting Lord Byron – “walk in beauty like the night,” she seemed to float along on a cloud of White Shoulders perfume. At...

Constance Alexander: Now more than ever, local newspapers matter in creating informed communities

When my mother was alive, her subscription to the Murray Ledger & Times provided daily reassurance that I, her youngest child, was safe and sound in faraway Kentucky. Mother, a native New Yorker, could not quite fathom how anyone would voluntarily relocate to a state a thousand miles from what had been home for a lifetime, but after a week of the ML&T, Mother was sold on Murray. “Nothing...

Constance Alexander: Studying music at a young age leads to a lifetime of skill and satisfaction

BOOM-boom-boom-boom. BOOM-boom-boom-boom. Those are the opening measures of my first recital piece, “Indian Drum,” by Katherine K. Davis. Playing it today, so many years later, I understand why my piano practice was limited to the hours when Daddy was at work. My stalwart, stay-at-home mother endured the worst of it by turning up the volume on her radio soap operas to drown out those early musical...

Constance Alexander: Speaking up, speaking out, speaking the truth even when it hurts

Last week in Murray, about a hundred twenty citizens showed up for a town hall discussion about plans for expansion of the Calloway County Public Library. The same night, close to a hundred people gathered at the Market House Theatre in Paducah for “Democracy & the Informed Citizen,” a statewide project to encourage civil discourse, focused on the novel, “All the King’s Men,” by Kentucky...

Constance Alexander: Three little words from classic book spark timely discussion of timeless issues

Politics, power, and corruption. Can you think of three better words to spark a lively community discussion? On Monday, September 24, at 6:30 p.m., the Calloway County Public Library is hosting a program focused on Robert Penn Warren’s groundbreaking novel All the King’s Men. The book reflects those three little words and provides a launching pad for civil discourse on timeless issues. Readings...

Constance Alexander: The semicolon is a valuable writing tool, that could some day save a life

“The great thing about the semicolon,” I tell my students, “is that it can make your writing look more sophisticated, and forge longer sentences that are flowing, not choppy.” But what I like best about semicolons is how Amy Bleuel transformed the symbol into a badge of hope. Thanks to her, the punctuation mark is a way to honor those who struggle with depression, suicide addiction, anxiety,...

Constance Alexander: The last holiday of summer also a time to honor the legacy of our labor unions

The pressman always talked too loud; in fact, he shouted. When I asked my father why Daddy explained that the man had to make himself heard above the presses. He had gotten so used to the din, he seemed unable to turn down the volume even when things were quiet. For so many people, work does not stop when the whistle blows, or the boss goes home, or the time clock punches them out. Today, technology...

Constance Alexander: Justine Riley shares her sensory appreciation of the horse in new book

“Most people think horses are beautiful, but I think they smell good,” says Justine Riley. In fact, she is so passionate about sharing her sensory appreciation, she created a book called “I’m a Horse Smeller.” When she wears the teal t-shirt that depicts the book’s cover, equine enthusiasts approach and tell her they understand exactly what she means. Those who don’t have much experience...

Constance Alexander: Communities benefit when their workplaces are accessible and inclusive

When Carrissa Johnson sends me an email, I pay attention. As Satellite Office Manager of Murray’s Center for Accessible Living, she champions causes affecting people with disabilities and shares valuable information associated with this often overlooked and under-employed group. The other day she forwarded an announcement about a free screening and panel discussion of an important film, “Bottom...

Constance Alexander: Online resources can help in getting the straight scoop on complicated issues

“In today’s digital age, it can often be challenging for consumers to determine what information is truly reliable. But whether it goes by the name of ‘propaganda,’ ‘hype,’ or ‘spin,’ it is possible for news readers to identify ‘fake news’ and avoid it entirely.” So said Laura Harvey, a reporter for The Messenger, Madisonville’s newspaper, in a recent article about how discerning...

Constance Alexander: A lesson about living gracefully as flowers fade and summer ends

The hydrangeas are past their peak. Blue-green fades gracefully to a luminous, pearly luster, while rose-colored bursts ease toward rust. Brawny weeds and muscular green leaves threaten to overpower, yet they seem unconcerned. Grazed by a gentle breeze, they nod their shaggy heads and bow, still cheerful as summer ends. Years ago, I wrote a piece about the last roses. Mourning their loss before it...

Constance Alexander: Rita Dragonette’s new novel explores coming-of-age conflicts, conscience, war

Every would-be novelist struggles to explain what sets her fiction apart from others. The alphabet soup of categories begins with action/adventure, beach books, and classics, and goes on to include romance, science fiction, westerns, and zen. Every once in a while, however, a writer ventures into territory that has not yet been claimed, and Rita Dragonette’s first novel is one of those.   Set in...

Constance Alexander: ‘All the King’s Men’ sparks conversations about politics, power and corruption

Six hundred-sixty-one. That’s a passel of pages to read. Just figuring out how long it takes to reach the end of such an epic is exhausting; nevertheless, “All the King’s Men” is worth the slog. The novel begins like a travelogue, giving directions to Mason City on Highway 58. It could be a description of driving on the West Kentucky Parkway: “…straight for miles, coming at you, with the...

Constance Alexander: Logan County’s South Union settlement celebrates Shaker tradition of equality

When I was growing up, “Life” was a staple in my house. Joan, my piano teacher’s daughter, worked for the weekly magazine. I glanced admiringly at her name on the masthead every week; it was an honor to know someone with such a glamorous job. Occasionally, a front cover made a memorable impression. For instance, when I was about five years old, there was one featuring Marilyn Monroe in a clingy...