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Johnson County man offers world-class MMA training for kids and adults

By Waylon Whitson
Staff Writer

A Johnson County man who has trained and competed in wrestling and mixed martial arts for most of his life offers training for every age from his home in Paintsville, where he has converted his garage into a gym, bringing kids and their families together for training and activities that teach discipline, humility and keep kids out of trouble.
Josh Stepp, who said he has wrestled since he was approximately four years old, and even took a few trips to Thailand to train in boxing with a friend after getting into mixed martial arts, has moved his gym a few times, most recently opting to operate it out of his garage at home to cut down on overhead.
Stepp is a three-time district champion in wrestling, two-time all-state wrestler, two-time Rough N’ Rowdy champion, and has a 13-1 amateur MMA record with a professional record of 2-0, as well as an amateur boxing record of 12-1 and professional record of 1-1. Stepp also had a successful high school wrestling career, with three district championship wins, three regional runner-ups, two times as an All-State wrestler and a 1999 state championship as well as being selected as the district MVP and most outstanding wrestler of the year in 1999 while attending Sheldon Clark High School.
Stepp said that boxing, wrestling and training is all he’s ever known, but after going to Thailand, he decided he wanted to focus on teaching. He enjoys working with kids to give them an outlet that is mentally, physically and socially beneficial – keeping them in shape, teaching them discipline and critical thinking skills and getting kids who might not be socially adept involved in an activity that builds their confidence and exposes them to a group of other kids that might have the same issues and may not be involved in sports or physical activity at school because of anxiety.
“That’s something I like about this gym – there’s some kids that can’t be on sports teams, maybe they’re not sports-inclined or maybe their parents can’t afford it,” Stepp said. “This is something that anyone can do, and a kid that might not be able to do much on a sports team can succeed in this.”
According to Stepp, martial arts can be intimidating to some people and there is a stigma that going into a gym is asking to get beat up, but he says that it’s not a competition in his gym unless two people just want to do it on their own.
“There’s no egos in here, you don’t have to worry about somebody trying to beat you up,” said Stepp. “This is a good place for staying fit, losing weight or just working on improving yourself mentally, physically and otherwise. It’s just good for you, period. If you’re in here and I grab you and you tap – that’s it, we stop, we’re not trying to hurt anyone. We’re like a big family.”
Stepp teaches at his home, offering classes four days a week for kids, teens and adults – teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for wrestling on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with Thai boxing on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Stepp’s home also features a small shop, so students can purchase fight gear and training attire on premises. For more information, contact Josh Stepp by phone at, (606) 339-7484, or by searching for him on Facebook.

2017 Old Fashion Costume Contest winners and participants

Boys 1-2
William Maddox Bryant
Lawson Blevins
Grayson Blevins
Cameron Isaiah Castle - Winner

Boys 3-5
Christopher Isaac Castle - Winner

Boys 10-14
Trevor Burns - Winner
Corbin Tackett

Girls 1-2
Hadli Price -Winner
London Dereka Hannah
Caroline Eden Caudill
Aubrey Baldwin
Emmalynn Baldridge
Brynleigh Harper Endicott

Girls 3-5
Malli Price - Winner
Izabella Fraley
Lillian Owens
Caroline Thornbury
Emalee Meadows

Girls 6-7
Jessica Pennington
Elle Holbrook
Hayley Meadows - Winner

Girls 8-9
Cassie Blanton
Kenzie Castle
Raegan Webb - Winner

Girls Victorian 3-5
Lexi Cantrell -Winner

2017 Storefront Decoration Contest Winners

The 2017 Kentucky Apple Festival Storefront Decoration Contest first-place winner, Treasures on Main, located on Main Street, shows off a display of classic Apple Festival culture. The year’s theme was “#Got Apples” and Treasures on Main’s display tributes the theme, and the fruit itself, perfectly.

2017 Pageant Winners
Aubrey Jane O’Bryan

Apple Baby Girl Winner – Aubrey Jane O’Bryan
Apple Baby Boy Winner - William Maddox Bryant
Mini- Prince - Carson Matthew Clark
Mini-Princess – Reagan McKay Burchett
Prince – Anderson Trent Jewell
Princess – Kynle Madison Slone
Pre-Teen Miss Apple Blossom – Addyson Kaylee Webb
Little Miss Apple Blossom – Cadence Aleena Jarrell

For photos of all the winners see today's, Oct. 4, 2017, edition of The Paintsville Herald.

JCSO teaches kids how to stay safe

By Elaine Belcher
News Editor

Head Start students at W.R Castle and Flat Gap Elementary schools were given the opportunity to be better prepared for dealing with strangers, thanks to a visit from Johnson County Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Clark earlier this week.
As part of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) community relations initiative, Clark has been reaching out to schools to share information with students, staff and other community organizations on a wide variety of subjects available at no cost.
“On Monday, I worked with the Head Start students at Flat Gap and W.R. Castle Elementary Schools on the ‘Danger with Strangers’,” said Clark. “We did scenarios with what to do and say if approached by someone they don’t know. They’re a great bunch of kids and they did well.”
The Piarist School in Hagerhill also worked with the JCSO to have Clark visit the student body to address how to deal with bullies, both online and in person.
“This is really our second year in Johnson County, and Deputy Clark let us know these classes were available,” said Natasha Collin-Lynn, Piarist School guidance counselor. “The classes were really well received and we’re going to have Deputy Clark out here for three other classes throughout the year.”
“One of the tools I use is a inflatable ball with questions and scenarios on it and we throw it around the audience. Whoever catches it and has their hand land on a scenario has to answer how they’d deal with it and then we have a group discussion,” said Clark. “That way, they can be engaged without feeling embarrassed”
“Clark has such great insight and stories on the topics he talks about,” said Collins-Lynn. “The students were really attentive. They were asking questions and engaged with the discussions. He did a great job.”
“We have over 40 classes available on a wide variety of topics,” said Clark. “We started this initiative in 2011 and we do it as the funding allows us to. It’s a great program and we want to get the word out that it is available at no charge.”
For more information about classes available, please call the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office at, (606) 789-4311.

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