A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

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...

Kentucky by Heart: Kentucky Senator Richard Mentor Johnson led an interesting and controversial life

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist I have been reading The US Senate and the Commonwealth (University Press of Kentucky, 2019), by Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and Roy Brownell II. It focuses on an overall study of senate leadership, along with a fascinating look at what the book calls “the colorful and vivid lives of fifteen Kentucky lawmakers, including Henry Clay, Alben Barkley, and John...

Kentucky by Heart: Phyllis Abbott on mission to help women veterans through Lady Veterans Connect

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist The mention of Trapp Elementary School, in rural Clark County, brings up fond memories for me, as well as legions of others who have experienced its magic. It’s simply a building now, no longer a place of learning for children in the community, a victim of public school consolidation as a cost-saving measure. The small school was a perfect match for me as I began...

Kentucky by Heart: I didn’t go to kindergarten, but learned my life’s rules close to home

Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared at KyForward October 31, 2017 By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Author Robert Fulghum got a lot of mileage out of his 1988 book, All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. In it, he identified 16 “rules to live by” learned early in childhood and applied them to real-life situations, partly through a series of essays. For those...

Kentucky by Heart: Construction worker Shaun Neal’s 27-year odyssey pays off with ‘Mama’s Song’

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Construction worker Shaun Neal’s odyssey in search of completing his first book, a novel called Mama’s Song, ended successfully a few years ago after nearly three decades in process. He feels both elated and relieved. “It started in 1990, one year after my wife and I got married. I finished in 2017,” said the Nicholasville resident. “My wife . . . she...

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: Bourbon County native painted vivid picture of Eastern Ky. life through his novels

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist Even for those outside our state, the two novels, The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come, and The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, could well have a connection to many readers, if only for their catchy titles. Both books were notable across America in the early 1900s, though the setting for them was in Kentucky and the books were written by a Kentuckian. An historical marker...

Kentucky by Heart: Sampling small town newspapers shows lots of good things going on around the state

Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared at KyForward September 12, 2017. By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Part of the fun of traveling around Kentucky is to sample small-town newspapers along the way. I always enjoy reading about the life of communities in our state, both close and not geographically close to mine. Despite the fact that there is always some bad news, too, it’s interesting...

Kentucky by Heart: Judy and Dan Dourson’s guide books offer unique look at Eastern Ky. plant life

Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist For Dan and Judy Dourson, the careful study of plant life is of great interest, particularly of such in eastern Kentucky. The most recent product of their work is now available in two detailed, well-researched guide books: Wildflowers and Ferns of Red River and the Greater Red River Basin and Wild Yet Tasty: A Guide to Edible Plants of Eastern Kentucky. Dan is a wildlife...

Kentucky by Heart: Book recounts young boy’s effort to give other sick kids ‘something to look forward to’

Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist It was over twenty years ago, and Lexington’s Fox 56 veteran anchor/reporter Marvin Bartlett scrambled to piece together a short news item about a cancer-stricken boy in a local hospital. It was a hectic time in the newsroom — certainly not an unusual thing — but it was also “March Madness” tournament time for the Kentucky Wildcat men’s basketball...

Kentucky by Heart: Reflecting on a life spent ‘Kentucky-ing,’ with no change in sight

Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist I don’t believe I’ll ever be “Kentucky-ed” to death. Never, it seems, do I get tired of “Kentucky-ing” around. While thinking about it the other day, I pondered how much of my life has a Kentucky flavor to it. Turns out, quite a lot. As for the traveling I do these days, it’s pretty much within the borders of my state, mostly chasing down subjects for...

Kentucky by Heart: Sister Juana Mendez offers hope and direction to members of Hispanic community

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared at KyForward.com on August 14, 2018 Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist Juana Mendez remembers well the difficult conditions her family faced while growing up in the American territory of Puerto Rico in the 1950s. “We lived in the country and we didn’t have running water or electricity,” she said. “We didn’t want to leave Puerto Rico but my...

Kentucky by Heart: Withlovefromharlan shifts focus close to home to help victims of Blackjewel failure

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist For the people of Harlan County, in the southeastern region of Kentucky, tough economic challenges became tougher recently when the Blackjewel Mining Company filed bankruptcy and left hundreds of miners, many from their county, hung out to dry financially. Most insulting was the fact that workers received paychecks that bounced, leaving many families unable to...

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

Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared at KyForward March 27, 2018 By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist 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...

Kentucky by Heart: Wrapping up our ‘County Quiz’ of Kentucky’s history, culture and geography

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Now comes the second part of the 120 question “Kentucky County Quiz” after the first one was published last week. Feel free to go back and take the first part Kentucky by Heart: Testing your knowledge of Ky’s history, culture and geography with a ‘County Quiz’ and include it with this week’s for the chance to win a prize. For the first five...

Kentucky by Heart: Testing your knowledge of Ky’s history, culture and geography with a ‘County Quiz’

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Though I’m not sure I’ve been to all 120 Kentucky counties, I believe it is pretty close to that number. I’ve found that if you study the history, culture, and geography of each, you’ll learn some quite interesting trivia, though the people who make up those counties would not prefer to call them “trivial matters.” Ha. I thought it would be fun for...