A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Jackson City School District may be small, but students have big plans for community’s future

Main Street in Jackson, in Breathitt County. (Photo provided) By Ron Daley Special to KyForward Jackson Independent School District students in Breathitt County are excited about their community’s future and expressed their desire to create their own jobs. And, while the J.D. Vance book “Hillbilly Elegy” has not been a positive portrayal of Breathitt, they believe the upcoming movie publicity...

Ron Daley: Helping Kentuckians get their REAL ID for air travel should not have taken so long

Don’t you just hate it when our great Commonwealth is at the bottom of rankings compared to other states? It is especially frustrating when there are easy fixes to address the concerns. This is the case when Kentucky has rushed to get to near bottom for allowing Kentuckians to obtain REAL ID drivers licenses by the federal mandated Oct. 1, 2020, deadline. The REAL ID (Voluntary Travel ID) is necessary...

Ron Daley: Beshear is a listening governor who can revitalize Eastern Kentucky, rural areas

Gov. Andy Beshear’s ability and willingness to listen is just what Eastern Kentucky and the rural areas of the Commonwealth need to in order to advance economically. Not all political leaders have the inclination to listen to the people, but instead desire to speak and pontificate on their own agenda. Over the past four years I have had the opportunity to observe Beshear interact as a listener with...

Ron Daley: Standing ‘holler proud’ as mountain folks vent after ‘can’t even count to 100’ remark

By Ron Daley Special to KyFoward Well, I was borned a coal miner’s daughter
 In a cabin, on a hill in Butcher Holler
 We were poor but we had love,
 That’s the one thing that daddy made sure of
 He shoveled coal to make a poor man’s dollar Yeah, I’m proud to be a coal miner’s daughter 
I remember well, the well where I drew water
 The work we done was hard
 At...

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...