A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

The Chocolat Inn and Café offers a sweeter, more vibrant lodging and dining addition to Lee County

By Ron Daley Special to KyForward A young couple who is about to give birth to their first child has already given birth to an exciting business venture in Lee County. Dustin and Mai Cornett creatively refurbished the old Tincher Motel on the outskirts of Beattyville two years ago into a bed and breakfast and café featuring their unique tasty creations. The Cornett’s daughter Sophia Donna Cornett...

Eastern Kentucky middle school students hope to start businesses, help build their communities

Students from seven Eastern Kentucky middle Schools participated in the 2019 Regional Entrepreneurial Competition held in Knott County last month (Pnoto provided) By Ron Daley Special to KyForward Eastern Kentucky middle school students demonstrated their entrepreneurial and creative abilities during the 2019 Regional Entrepreneurial Competition held in Knott County last month showing their potential...

Ron Daley: Possums (or opossums) get bad rap, but help us stay healthy and are cute in their own way

The much-maligned and misunderstood “opossums” are making a comeback. In fact, since they are the only mammal that has survived since the time of the dinosaurs they did not need to come back except in the eyes of humans for greater appreciation. The West Virginia public radio aired and published in September a story about the creative possum large mural Letcher artist Lacy Hale constructed on the...

Ron Daley: Are we losing our democracy in the nation and in Kentucky? What’s wrong and how do we fix it?

It took nearly 200 years for the great experiment created in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia to become a true democracy. After 232 years America is losing elements of its democracy. The question remains will our nation and the Commonwealth of Kentucky keep their democratic framework? Historians point out that many of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention had serious reservations...

Rural educators form Kentucky chapter of National Rural Education Association to promote collaboration

By Ron Daley Special to KyForward Kentucky K-12 educational leaders increased their voice and power of collaboration by establishing a state chapter and joining the National Rural Education Association (NREA) last week in Louisville. For most rural school districts in the nation, collaboration is not a choice, it is a necessity. Collaboration elevates the voice of rural districts and empowers isolated...

Education Commissioner holding forums on state’s new minimum high school graduation requirements

By Ron Daley Special to KyForward Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis held the second town hall forum in Hazard last week seeking public feedback on the state’s new minimum high school graduation requirements. Lewis and Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) staff will hold two other forums and one online forum will be held via webinar and feedback will be solicited electronically for those...

Ron Daley: Eastern Kentucky can be a loser again in 2020 Census; School Districts are joining effort

Eastern Kentucky stands to be a loser in the 2020 U.S. Census unless successful efforts are made to count all its citizens especially its youth five years of age and under. The loss can be in federal funding and representation in both state and federal government. According to a study by George Washington University, Kentucky stands to lose an estimated $2021 annually for each person not counted...

Historic Perry County ‘Mother Goose’ house honking again, to open in October as bed and breakfast

Mother Goose house historical photo with gas pumps (Photo provided) By Ron Daley Special to KyForward It all began with Ollie Stacy cooking a goose for Thanksgiving in 1935 in the outskirts of Hazard. Ollie peeled off the meat and laid the skeleton on the table where her husband George was having his coffee. George, an L and N Railroad employee, who was always coming up with interesting thoughts,...

School bus drivers are often ‘unsung heroes’ in K-12 schools; Many Ky. districts struggling to find drivers

By Ron Daley Special to KyForward Kentucky K-12 bus drivers face many responsibilities being the first school official to warmly greet students and deliver them to their school for the day and return them home safely around eight hours later. Districts across the state are having difficulty recruiting bus drivers for this critical task in the education process. Most of the bus routes in rural districts...

Ron Daley: J. D. Vance’s book ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ fosters negative stereotypes of Eastern Kentuckians

J. D. Vance’s 2016 book “Hillbilly Elegy” about his family’s life in Breathitt County does not reflect the people I have been neighbors with for the past 44 years. Even though this Yale Law graduate spent his life in Middletown, Ohio, with some visits to his family’s hometown in the mountains, Vance’s microscopic description of his dysfunctional family will continue to foster negative stereotypes...

University of Kentucky Singletary Scholar Taylor Williams is hopeful to live in tiny house near campus

By Ron Daley Special to KyForward Two years ago, 17-year-old Taylor Williams, of Hazard, had a tough decision. Should she accept admission and scholarships to Harvard, Yale, Vanderbilt, or accept the Singletary Scholarship and attend the University of Kentucky? Now as a 19-year-old pharmacy student at the University of Kentucky Taylor is deciding on how to downsize her belongings and decorate the “tiny...

Ron Daley: Reflecting on letter from Charles Manson, and his time in Ky., 50 years after gruesome murders

Charles Manson, with Eastern Kentucky roots, remains a pop culture icon phenomenon as we acknowledge the 50-year anniversary of the actress Sharon Tate and other murders on August 9, 1969. Manson’s bizarre sick life captured the mind of the nation during a tumultuous period in the United States. He was able to hang out with Dennis Wilson who was the Beach Boys’ drummer, have his song recorded by...

Johnson Co. Middle School JuulBreakers display courage as they challenge e-cigarette epidemic

By Ron Daley Special to KyForward Johnson County Middle School students exemplify the grit needed to be the leaders Theodore Roosevelt called for in his “Man in the Arena” speech he delivered on April 23, 1910 at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. This past year the students challenged their peers, schools, parents and the Kentucky General Assembly to tackle the growing epidemic of use of the popular...

Kentucky hosts third national summit on micro-credentials; plans for Rural Education Association

By Ron Daley Special to KyForward Educators from 25 states across the nation representing classroom instructors to state and national organizations attended the third Micro-Credential Summit June 18-19 in Louisville sponsored by the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC), a consortium of 23 school districts in eastern Kentucky. The first two summits were held in Hazard, KY and the fourth is...

Paintsville student stays strong in her studies during leukemia battle with the help of robot, friends

By Ron Daley Special to KyForward Despite her battle with leukemia since the fifth grade, Megan Brooke Ferguson’s dream to become a doctor stayed on track with the help of a robot, her teachers and friends at Paintsville Elementary. Megan, now 15 and a freshman at Paintsville High School, is in remission. As a 5th grader, she spent over 160 days at Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington, WV....

Eastern Kentucky residents gather to develop strategies for economic, community revitalization

By Ron Daley Special to KyForward “We must believe in our community and in our youth and create opportunities for our youth to remain in our communities and become leaders,” Jackson County Judge-Executive Shane Gabbard said, reflecting the spirit of the conversation at the gathering of eastern Kentuckians this week. “We must blur the county boundaries and develop partnerships with vision utilizing...

Eastern Kentucky school superintendents join KVEC representatives at Capitol with ‘call to action’

School superintendents from across Eastern Kentucky joined representatives from the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative in the Capitol Rotunda Tuesday to present a “call-to-action” position paper to members of the General Assembly. (Photo by Ron Daley) By Ron Daley and John White Special to KyForward More than 20 superintendents and the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC)...

Ron Daley: Like state’s other rural school districts, Lee County has major economic importance

In addition to providing quality education preparing students for the workforce, the Lee County School District is a major economic driver in the community. The school district directly contributes to the educational attainment and future earnings of its youth. The district is the largest employer in the county despite the county’s population and student enrollment loss which has forced school staff...

Ron Daley: Student loan debt and loan defaults adversely impact Kentucky and its rural areas

The growing national student loan crisis is having an even more devastating effect on families in rural eastern Kentucky. The average student debt in the United States is $32,731, while the median student loan debt amount is $17,000. The rising costs of tuition have increased total student loan debt up around 302% since 2004. Data shows that the increasing student loan debt is having a greater adverse...

Ron Daley: Day in Lawrence County Elementary classroom observing high-performing teachers

Our K-12 students are learning more and their teachers are better prepared utilizing greater innovative learning practices in the classrooms than when we adults were in school. Since I have been on loan to the KY Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC) from Hazard Community and Technical College the last four years, I have observed the amazing results of teaching and learning in eastern Kentucky school...