A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

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: Even the inconveniences brought on by coronavirus can be embraced in a positive way

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Okay, my Kentucky brethren, our personal mobility will likely be curtailed for the foreseeable future because that pesky little virus world traveler (COVID-19) has shown up uninvited. And now that the reality is here, we’re making some serious life adjustments, probably for a longer period than we’d like. Not to preach, ‘cause I don’t like people preaching...

Kentucky by Heart: Nobody is ‘crazier about the ‘Cats’ than long-time sports writer Jamie Vaught

By Steve Flairty NKyTribune columnist If you are a Kentuckian or have been around these parts for a long time, to be “crazy about the Cats” is an expression that likely resonates. Most often, it refers to the abiding love that fans have for the Kentucky Wildcats college basketball team. It might also refer to UK’s football or other of their sports teams as well, but most often, it’s a hoops...

Kentucky by Heart: Highlighting some of Kentucky’s female heroes during Women’s History Month

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist It’s Women’s History Month in the United States, and I’m excited to highlight some of the special Kentucky women I’ve written about in the Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes book series since it was launched in 2008. For sure, these individuals have touched the state of Kentucky; they’ve also had influences outside the state. Their contributions to foster...

Kentucky by Heart: More stories of the Great Flood of 1937 from Shawnee High School students

Author’s Note: This is the second installment of a two-part series looking at a book published in 1937, called Flood Stories. It’s a collection of personal accounts—each written by a girl student of the “Grammar and Composition” class at Shawnee High School, in Louisville—that occurred around Louisville and The Great Flood of 1937. I have paraphrased the following narratives except...

Kentucky by Heart: George Wright grew up poor but he listened when his mother said ‘no excuses’

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist When George Wright was growing up in poverty in Lexington over 50 years ago, he felt like he was living in shame and didn’t want others to know about it. It got worse when his parents divorced. His grades were bad, even though he had a good mind. “I always acted real out-going and was a show-off,” said George. “I didn’t let people know of the hurt in my...

Kentucky by Heart: Return to Harrodsburg brings back childhood memories of visit to Ft. Harrod

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist Last week, I spoke at the Mercer County Public Library in Harrodsburg about my Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes book series. In my talks, I always like to add some “local color” to the opening remarks for my audience. It didn’t take much thought to come up with some personal observations drawn from my past to use for the Harrodsburg audience. Mercer County Library...

Kentucky by Heart: Author and storyteller Ben Woodard ‘lets himself go’ in his books for children

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Ben Woodard developed good literary skills and a strong work ethic early in his young days growing up in Lexington, where he told neighborhood kids stories. Those attributes pretty much set a firm foundation for the success he has today as a successful children’s author and storyteller, with ten published books, many others in process, and occasionally is a speaker...

Kentucky by Heart: A sampling of favorites from Kentucky’s bookworms to kick off the new year

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist It’s a new year and the winter season, and for many of us, it’s a time to renew — or simply resume — our reading habit. As I’ve done previously in this column, I figured it would be fun to see what literary delights Kentuckians are tasting these days. For a change of pace, I’m reading a couple of young adult books by Lexington author Ben Woodard....

Kentucky by Heart: There’s probably a song about that, but please don’t expect me to sing along

Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared at KyForward.com on January 29, 2019. By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist I generally enjoy the subject of music, but I’m a slow learner when it comes to understanding it. And, it should not be surprising that I’m not good at performing it, either. It’s almost like I have a mental block, much like many claim to have in learning math. Maybe...

Kentucky by Heart: Warmth, comfort and inclusion is ‘percolating’ at Lexington’s McLeod’s Coffee House

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist On a warm December morning at McLeod’s Coffee House, where “no one is excluded,” Brewster McLeod is sure of one thing. Those he terms “VIPs,” his employees, are perkin’ pretty well after six weeks in on his and their dream project. In fact, you might say Brewster is still dancin’ with the ones who brought him to this point of glee, which he likes to...

Kentucky by Heart: Highs and lows for 2019 — and learning from things to make a better 2020

By Steve Flairty Special to KyForward The year 2019 just ended for me with a procession of highs and lows. Guess that’s quite normal; but, being the analytical guy I am often spurs me to sort out the learnable things and make them work for a better future. First, here’s a recap. Aunt MaeIt was exciting to release my seventh book, the fifth volume of Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes; along with it,...

Kentucky by Heart: Mike Howard went from ‘black sheep’ to beloved ‘Mountain Santa,’ the legend

Because Christmas is all about traditions, we are offering this traditional Kentucky by Heart column on Mike Howard, the Mountain Santa who, sadly, has passed away. But like the Christmas spirit in all of this, his spirit lives on in his legacy of generosity to others. Merry Christmas — and happy memories.) By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Mike Howard remembers with dismay the negative reputation...

Kentucky by Heart: Well, ho ho ho, Steve’s got the Christmas spirit — in a punny kind of way

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist I’ve always found the Christmas holiday season (the tradition of my religious faith) to be one of a profound mixture of adjectives: solemn, joyous, sad, stressful, inspirational, and tiring. But if I had some choices to make it what I’d like, I’d want it to be of a light nature… and certainly punny. Steve with ‘Santa’ (Photo provided) I hope...

Kentucky by Heart: A look at some worthy Kentucky service organizations for your holiday giving list

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist We’re in the holiday season when most of us likely feel inundated with messages coaxing us to buy; it’s also a time when we are barraged with requests to give to a good cause, and it can quickly become a matter of “polite frustration.” There are lots of good causes, and most of us have limited resources to give, though we might have good hearts with noble...

Kentucky by Heart: Bluegrass Writers Coalition members compile book of Ky’s ‘mined treasures’

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist Back in 2018, two founding members of the Bluegrass Writers Coalition, from Frankfort, Mike Embry and Chris Helvey, discussed the idea of creating a small selection of published writings to highlight some of the state’s finest, including some who were unsung, writers. Mined treasures, you might say, that needed to be unearthed so that the glitter might not be...

Kentucky by Heart: A ‘Kentucky-fied’ trip through a beautiful part of our state into a beautiful part of Ohio

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist It’s not often in this column that I talk about a trip taken outside the state of Kentucky. This time, however, I will, because the trip my spouse and I took to Ohio recently on Veterans Day included a good portion of Kentucky geography on the itinerary, and the destination area reminded me a lot of our state, too. Suzanne enjoys learning about Native-Americans...

Kentucky by Heart: Inventor of submachine gun was NKy native; finding strength in challenging times

Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared at KyForward.com on October 23, 2018 By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist Although not a gun enthusiast myself, I recently noticed while perusing a resource I use regularly, The Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, that the inventor of the famous Thompson submachine gun was born in Newport in 1860. I was intrigued with that finding. Brigadier General...

Kentucky By Heart: Annual Kentucky Book Fair a grand celebration of state’s literary landscape

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist I look forward with joy to participating, as an author, in the 38th Annual Kentucky Book Fair this Saturday, November 16 at the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park, in Lexington. The hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is the culminating event of a week of activities, starting on November 10, called the Kentucky Book Festival. This is the seventh time —...

Kentucky by Heart: Humility of Northern Kentucky’s 2019 Newsmakers evidence of state’s giving spirit

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you do not care who gets the credit.” — Harry S. Truman On many occasions, being a columnist and author affords me the opportunity to meet or be around inspiring people doing good things in their communities. I’ve written about a whole slew of them, and it’s my hope that those accounts will invigorate others...