Thursday, July 31, 2008

School starts Aug. 8

As we prepare stories for our Back-to-School tab it hit me that I would hate to have to start school this early.

Summer was a great time "back in my day." Even though I often complained back then about having to work in the tobacco patch, but it would suck to spend the majority of August inside instead of down at the fishing or swimming hole!

Times change and in some school systems they have already gone to the year-round school calendar.

It just seems that we adults have managed suck the fun out of everything and we wonder why kids seem distant and want to play video games all day....

Oh, well... here's to the death of summer.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Taking the wrong tour

Here is a column that ran in this week's newspaper. We put it here to see how our bloggers might feel about it:

In political circles it has been long understood that unless you live in a place with a large voting base then you really don’t matter enough to get a visit by a gubernatorial candidate and about once a term you might — and I really mean might — get a visit from a sitting governor.

Kentucky is a state with more width than Paul Bunyan’s britches and, yes, it is hard to get to all of the state in a short amount of time … say, four or eight years.

Still, my britches were in a bunch when I heard that Gov. Steve Beshear would be having a series of 13 town hall-type meetings around the state and the smallest place he would visit would be Pikeville.

Now, compared to the almighty “golden triangle” — Louisville, Lexington and Frankfort — most of the places he is stopping might seem small, but it goes against the spirit of his tour, which is not aptly named “Beshear About Kentucky.”

It should be called “Beshear Wonders From Big Town to Big Town Because That’s Where the Votes Are Baby!”

Though, I think that title would be a little long for a banner.

Here are the cities that Beshear is coming to near our home base of Todd County: Bowling Green on Aug. 6 (48 minutes from Elkton) and Madisonville on July 31 (50 minutes from Allegre). If you drive like a maniac you could get there quicker, but with the price of gas it might be best to putt-putt along. All of the events will start at 6 p.m.

The following is from a press release the Standard received from the governor’s office:
“Kentuckians are, by their very nature, a resourceful people,” said. Gov. Beshear. “I am anxious to hear what they have to say and listen to their ideas on how we can work together to move Kentucky forward.”

The governor is inviting citizens to join him in discussions about ways to provide more with less.

Here is the problem, Kentuckians are more resourceful people who know how to make more with less because they have, for several generations, been taking the slow train to I’mScrewedville and the state leaders have been in the caboose trying to steer!

Gov. Beshear, you are from Dawson Springs, which is small town America personified. If you think about it, you should have known better. You should have taken this tour to the small places that might never see you again.
I think that you meant well, but us pesky journalists have already given you a hard way to go.
You talk about energy initiatives and show up in SUVs that get negative miles per gallon. (Though I read you took a car to the meeting in Somerset Monday.) You also took considerable flack for spending $7,000 to fly three planes full of high-ranking state officials to Pikeville.

But, crazy spending or not, we’d be glad to get you here on the public square and ask you about education cuts, why health insurance is so expensive and what will happen when all the good jobs have gone somewhere else.

We’d just like to talk to you in person.

I know you might think that I’m full of sour grapes and that you shouldn’t pay any attention to a half-crazed country newspaper editor, but I’m not wrong.

Here, in this place, people live and die and never see their governor. They’ve never been to Frankfort (except maybe on a field trip in school) but they are Kentucky as well.

They need to know their voice is heard, but their cries are but a soft whisper when those that listen never come close enough to hear …

Here are some places I’ve been to over the years that would make good spots to visit if you, Gov. Beshear, or your people actually wanted to see places that aren’t seen and hear voices that aren’t heard: Guthrie, Powderly, Morgantown, Sedalia, Sebree, Cloverport, Albany, Liberty, Owingsville, Salyersville and Possum Trot/Gilbertsville.

Or you could just throw a dart at a map. That would work out just about as well.

So, Gov. Beshear, please come and sit for a spell and chew the fat with us.

We are in every little town and we are waiting to be heard.

Posted by Ryan

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Check out the CLASSIFIEDS

As General Manager, I have taken a bold step in personally redesigning the Classified section in this week's Todd County Standard newspaper.

Some will like it and some won't but the purpose was to group information in a more reader friendly manner.

If you are looking for a job, they are all in one place together and one doesn't have to search the entire paper. The same would be true if you are looking for yard sale info or a home to buy or rent.

Real Estate ads will have to be spread over two pages due to such the large amount of space needed for the advertisements.

This section will continue to include new headings such as legal notices, public notices, etc. as they are submitted to the paper for publication.

Hope you enjoy.

Posted by Sarah Craig

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

181 construction better than nothing

The Kentucky 181 entrance (from the stoplight to the court square) into Elkton being widened as part of the governor's six-year road plan is a good thing and it will help the city and those who travel through.

With that said, it makes us wonder if it was the right place to start fixing 181. We have been told that if 181 is to ever be straightened out then it will be done in piecemeal sections over several years.

That means that for at least a few years, maybe more than six with the state's money problems, the only construction will be in Elkton and not in the deadly curves north of Clifty, the stretch from Tress Shop to the railroad tracks or the dangerous intersection near North Todd Elementary.

Still, as one official said, we are glad to at least get something since we haven't been on the road plan list in a long, long time (some say, if ever). It is just a shame that it might not be the best use of the money right now.

The entire road should be straightened and have passing lanes on hills and the people of Todd County shouldn't accept anything less.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Does Todd County Take Tourism Seriously?

The news is out. Most of the counties in the state have enjoyed an increase in tourism. Now this may have as much to do with gasoline being the price of an arm and a leg, but nevertheless, people are not traveling as far when they go-a-visiting ...

Here is some info from the story that was released:

Tourism in Todd County increased 5.6% percent in 2007 and added almost $3 million to the county’s economy. These new statistics were released by the Kentucky Department of Travel and based on an annual report compiled by the Travel Industry Association (TIA) in Washington D.C.

Todd County’s numbers are a part of an overall 6.5% percent statewide increase in tourism in 2007, which added $10.7 billion to the state’s economy.

“We know that travel and tourism are an essential part of Kentucky’s economy,” said Mike Cooper, commissioner for the department. “Money spent on tourism throughout the Commonwealth circulates several times into the economy benefiting Kentucky communities through direct travel and in the service and retail sectors.”

“Attracting tourists to our community is an on-going process and local leaders have worked diligently to increase the number of visitors to the area,” said State Senator Joey Pendleton. “This report is good news for the area and an indication that our efforts are paying off and, thanks to continued strong local leadership, we are looking forward to even more growth in the future.”

The report shows that more than 176,600 people are employed statewide in the industry earning more than $3.4 billion in payroll. In Todd County, approximately 38 people are employed in the tourism industry and account for more than $1 million in payroll. Nearly $7.25 billion was spent directly by domestic travelers in Kentucky in 2007. Combined with indirect spending, the complete value of the tourism industry in the state totals $10.72 billion. These amounts generate just over $1 billion in local, state and federal taxes.

One magistrate, who was raked over the coals for saying it, said, "There ain't nothing to see here" a couple years ago.

Most people know that's not true, but what worries me is that while other counties nearby have significant tourism with even less bonafide tourism spots Todd County is content in not worrying about developing tourism.

Now, we do have a tourism committee and they have already accomplished some good work and more good stuff is on the horizon. Our task as Todd Countians will be to support the tourism development efforts.

We need to develop what we have, add more tourism draws and get a bigger piece of that $10.72 billion pie.

The sad part is that we haven't even begun to look at agri-tourism or what it will take to get a few hotels or B&Bs in the county. We might not think it cool but a B&B in North Todd overlooking a farm, stream or lake will bring in more people than you think.

We also had suggestions for a Corvette racetrack resort. A drive-in theather. A theme park. Or even adventure tourism in the Clifty cliffs.

The possiblities are endless, but we will have to recruit tourism almost as much as we have to court industry and that requires time, money and leadership. While I think the leadership is behind it, I wonder if there are people out there that are willing to give the money or the time?

That is where the recruitment comes in ... I often laugh about counties in Tennessee trying to keep out a Bible-themed park that might bring millions of dollars to the community. The park, while perhaps not my cup of tea, should be the kind of tourism draw we should seek out. Don't believe a theme park in a rural area can work? Take Holiday World in Santa Claus, Ind., for example. People will drive up to five hours to attend the park.

Basically, a good draw is a good draw... especially when it is a good fit for the area.

The trick will be finding the passion to find that good fit.

Posted by Ryan

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Time to compromise

The Todd County Sheriff's deputies remain jobless as the sheriff and the fiscal court continue feuding over funding for the department.

OK, enough is enough. Sheriff W.D. "Billy" Stokes told the Standard that he will not take the state advancement -- a no interest loan from the state to help float sheriff's departments during the dry spell between tax collecting. Stokes told the Standard on Tuesday night that he is standing his ground on the subject of the advancement and will not back down.

On the other hand the fiscal court will not grant any of the sheriff's line item changes until he shows up at a meeting to ask the court for the funds. In the sheriff's budget for the 2008-2009 fiscal year the court has the sheriff taking the state advancement. But, Stokes refuses to take the advancement (and yes, he is the only one who can sign the papers), saying that he cannot trust the court to repay the loan if something were to happen to him leaving his family responsible for paying back the $30,000.

My momma has always told me that every good relationship is based on compromise. While the court and sheriff obviously do not have anything resembling even a mediocre relationship, I think a compromise is called for.

Here is what I propose happen: Stokes take the advancement. In return for Stokes taking the advancement the fiscal court should publicly promise that if something were to happen to Stokes it would take care of the loan and not leave it to Stokes' family. Although, such a vow would be unnecessary; if Stokes were to take the advancement and something happened to him and the court refused to pay the advancement back the fiscal court would end up barbecued by the Standard. However, if it would make Stokes more comfortable the court could publicly promise to cover the loan or County Attorney Harold "Mac" Johns could draw up some fancy contract.

And, if Stokes were to take the advancement and somewhere down the line request a line item change, the court could grant it without Stokes' presence. As in most compromises not everyone gets their way 100 percent and not every one is tickled with the outcome. However, this is not about Stokes or the fiscal court. It's about the people of Todd County being without police protection. It's time that Stokes and the court swallow a little stubborn pride and give an inch in this game they've been playing. I, however, do think Stokes should put in an occasional appearance at the meetings. Not every department head attends every meeting, but once in awhile they make an appearance. Stokes could to; and if Stokes were to concede that then the court could concede something else.

Give and take. That's what compromise is all about and it's past time that Stokes and the fiscal court compromise.

Posted by Stephanie