Letters to the Editor 11-8-17
The Big Sandy Valley Historical Society to hold final meeting
After nearly fifty years of bringing local history and genealogy enthusiast together, the Big Sandy Valley Historical Society held its last regular meeting Saturday at the Lawrence County Public Library beginning at 11 a.m.
Due to the lagging interest the Society has, of late, become unsustainable. In recent years, many of its founding and long-standing members have passed on and its inability to attract new membership has reduced the Society to just a few core members.
The Society was founded in 1970 by the late Paintsville historian and master genealogist Edward R. Hazelett, who was said to be a man of unusual genius. Mention any random Eastern Kentucky family name and he could trace it back several generations on the spot using his own encyclopedic knowledge.
Also among the founding group of the Society were prominent area historians such as Wallace Williamson, III, the first president; Henry P. Scalf, author of the widely read Kentucky’s Last Frontier; Elizabeth Stephens, noted Prestonsburg historian; and Dr. Leonard Roberts, former Pikeville College English professor and author of several folktale books.
From its beginning, the organization’s main mission was to join people together who are interested in researching, publishing and preserving the history and genealogy of the Sandy Valley; and in addition provide an opportunity for them to exchange information and become better acquainted with one another, and through their efforts inspire others to become more curious about the culture of the past. The Society’s vision was overarching, covering the entire length of the Big Sandy River, which includes nine counties in Kentucky, four in West Virginia and four in Virginia.
Its bylaws require four quarterly meetings held throughout the year at different towns and locations all along the Big Sandy from Kenova, West Virginia, to the Breaks Interstate Park. This would allow some members to attend at least a few meetings close to home without having to travel far. Meetings have always been called to order at 11 a.m. on a given Saturday morning, followed by a speaker with considerable knowledge of some historical event or interesting subject about the region; this followed by a question and answer session. Afterwards, those attending usually gather for lunch at some local restaurant and continue the discussion.
Some notable speakers have been Dr. Cratis Williams, John Wells III, Harry Caudill and current member Judge John Preston, whose book The Civil War in the Big Sandy Valley of Kentucky and his Big Sandy Publishing Company, concerned with books of historical content, have established his reputation as a local historian. Some even consider him now the preeminent historian of the area, taking up the mantle of his very close friend and mentor Edward Hazelett. The speaker for the final meeting was Connie Queen of the Fred M. Vinson Museum of Louisa.
When membership swelled to over 200 around 1983, the Society began to publish a quarterly journal called the Sandy Valley Heritage in order to display articles, stories, and pictures sent in by members and their families and friends. In addition to keeping members informed, the journal has preserved a great deal of historical information that otherwise may have been lost and forgotten. Also, as the years passed, materials and documents began to pile up and needed to be stored, so the group opened up what was called the Historical Center in the old city hall building on Euclid Avenue in Paintsville, where people could come in and browse through historical material, and in some cases find their own family’s genealogy.
The Society has published to books in the course of its existence: The Hatfield Book by Dr. Elliot Hatfield; and Life Among The Hills of Eastern Kentucky by W.R. Thomas. These books can be found at Words and Stuff, East Kentucky’s premier bookstore located in Van Lear, owned and operated by longtime member James Tramel, who has spearheaded many of the society’s projects over the years.
Other members requiring special mention are the late Janet Horn of Paintsville, who kept the History Center going and compiled and edited the Heritage Journal over the past few years despite failing health; and immediate past president lady Bertha Daniels of Prestonsburg, who had been the glue that has held the Society together as membership has dwindled over the years. The current president is Tim Lycan of Lawrence County, a genealogy enthusiast who claims to be related to almost everyone in the area.
“We are like a big tangle of fishhooks here in the area, “he said.
Vice-president John H. (Butch) Preston, is the author of the play Kentucky’s Richest Man, the story to John C. C. Mayo, which will be performed next April at the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg; and the author of the widely-popular History and Tales of the Paintsville Stockyard.
In the end, the Society is to be commended for its work through the years and even though it cannot push ahead, it has left a treasure trove of material behind archived at the Paintsville Public Library. There you will find all the extant copies of The Sandy Valley Heritage Journal as well as Life Along the Big Sandy, edited by founding member Harry Holbrook, containing many entertaining stories and essays that once started is hard to put down. Spending a couple of hours in the archives among the Big Sandy Historical Society’s collection is sure to make one realize how much we owe to the hardy pioneers and settlers who struggled to tame this land, and perhaps bring one to appreciate this great valley we live in.
John H. (Butch) Preston
On behalf of the Veteran’s Referral Center here in Paintsville, I want to thank everyone who participated in making our benefit telethon a great success this year.
As of now, the donations have topped $8,000.
Whether you cooked or served food (a big shout out to the Johnson County Republican Women’s Club), played music, contributed to supplies for the dinner or reached deep into your pockets, your contribution is precious to us.
Once again, those of us at the center appreciate it!
Director of the Veterans Referral Center
Making pension proposal fair to all
Gov. Bevin and Republican leaders have developed a plan to correct the financial standings of Kentucky’s pension plans, and that is commendable.
Some made insulting comments about teachers and state employees. That is not appropriate. Teachers, school districts, city and county governments have continually fulfilled their financial obligations. In the recent past, state politicians have not.
Gov. Bevin presents their plans as if it is the only possible path to protect the pensions of retirees and employees, but there are many variations, which are fairer to all parties.
His plan punishes the victims and puts undue burdens on local governments.
Let’s discuss tax reform that closes loopholes enjoyed by the elite. The ethical remedy is to enact tax policy where everyone pays their fair share and stops subsidizing political allies.
The morally correct action is for the state politicians to accept responsibility by modifying their plan to meet the promised obligations while adequately funding the plan and not pushing the costs to local governments, employees and retirees.
Stand up for fairness through legislation that places the burden on those who have been evading taxation, not increasing the burden on everyone who has been doing their part.
Letters to the Editor 10-27-17
Syringes & Attempted Break-ins
About a month ago a guy had said he had found three syringes laying beside the road in front of my house. I called 911 as I did not want them laying there. A deputy came and recovered them. He asked who found them and I told him. The deputy instantly knew who he was.
Since that day I have had an expensive 5’ insulated window broken with a rock that showered me and my bed with shards of glass.
Last night he tried again and I got a picture of him. It is the man that found the syringes.
If this continues, someone is going to hurt.
By the way, I am an 86-year-old disabled vet and I do not need this.
West Van Lear
Letters to the Editor 10-25-17
Losing our history
It breaks my heart to see all the items and buildings of a bygone era destroyed.
Was not the red caboose a tourism item, the swinging bridge, the little red brick building that was torn down yesterday (Thursday), which was the First Power Co. building in the city. I notified Mr. Shaw of that fact some months back. A lot of good that done.
To my knowledge, we’ve lost all the physical history of our once great city except for the rock on Euclid Avenue in front of the hedge at Mr. John Mark Trimble’s house. Back in the day, people used to get off horses using that rock.
It will probably be the next and last thing to go. Liquor sales in Paintsville was supposed to bring prosperity. What a joke that was on the citizens of Paintsville. Some nice young man/woman needs to get up a petition and see if we can get liquor sales voted out and just maybe God will bless this city.
You pastors that did not warn your flock about the sale of alcohol will give your account to God. “And all liars shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.” That all liars means saints as well as sinners.
I used to think Paintsville was the fairest of the cities in this area. Not anymore. Get liquor out of here and they may call us “Mayberry” again.
Oct 25, 2017, 07:41
Letters to the Editor 10-20-17
Another great Apple Festival
The 55th annual Kentucky Apple Festival has come to another great ending due to the efforts of the following individuals and/or businesses they work or own. Your effort helped 50 non-profit organizations from our county to meet or exceed their community outreach budgets for the coming year. And to that, we owe a great gratitude.
In no particular order they are: the Johnson County Library Staff, Bev Scarberry, of Foothills Communications, Paul Pelphrey, of State Farm Insurance, Dr. Randall Mann, of Professional Eye Care, Dr. Dustin Devers, Bruce Ritz, of Broadway Auto Sales, Danny Hamilton, of Physical Therapy, Mike Blevins, of House of Prayer, Bob Hutchinson, of McDonald’s of Southeast Kentucky, Pepsi Bottling Group, EQT Corporation, Paula Stambaugh, of Williams Floral, Giovanni’s Pizza, Paul B. Hall Wound Care Center, Chief Mike Roe, of the Paintsville Police Department, Chief Rick Ratliff, of Paintsville Fire Department, Sheriff Dwayne Price, of Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Kyle Salyers Law Offices, Osborne, O’Bryan and Butcher Law Offices, Paintsville office of the Kentucky Power Company, P.D. Pelphrey, of Pelphrey Rentals, C.W. VanHoose with the BSCTC Skills USA Students, Richard Meek, Johnny Lemaster, Joe Collins, Sandy Daniels, Sallee Holbrook of Johnson County Clerk’s Office, Charles Lusk, of Apple Valley Sanitation, Maggard’s Security, Ashley Litteral, of Appalachian Wireless, Sandy Valley Fasteners, Poor Boys Pawn Shop, Citizens Bank, Kevin Blair, of Capital Tire, Chet Crace, of Crace’s Wrecker Service, W.R. Castle and Rockhouse Volunteer Fire Departments, Alley Restaurant, Medicine Cabinet Pharmacy, Morris Copley of StoneCrest Golf Course, Elm Street Resources and staff, and Debbie Trimble and Staff, of Paul B. Hall Hospital.
If you know any of these individuals/businesses, please thank them on behalf of the festival board and the organizations they helped this year. We could not have made this festival possible without their support. We ask that you support their businesses in the coming year and help them meet their budgets as well.
Ray Tosti, Chairman
Kentucky Apple Festival, Inc.
Letters to the Editor 10-6-17
Help locate a friend
I’m looking for help in trying to locate a long, lost friend. Anyone who knows the whereabouts of Carolyn Mildred Davis, born November 1969, please write to me with her address or how to get in touch with her. I’ve lost touch with her and I’m trying to reconnect. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.
James E. Cottle
P.O. Box 1000
Butner, North Carolina, 27509