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University of Kentucky’s Johnson County FCS Extension Office hosts “Preserving the Harvest” class

By Waylon Whitson
Staff Writer

The University of Kentucky’s Johnson County Family and Consumer Science Extension Office (FCS) held a class Thursday afternoon to teach prospective gardeners how to save their harvest by canning and other preservation techniques in order to avoid wasting any of the vegetables they worked to grow, according to Brenda Cockerham, Johnson County Family and Consumer Sciences agent.
The class featured canning, freezing and drying instructions, as well as preparation and cooking ideas. Along with the best practices for the preservation methods, Cockerham also detailed guidelines to ensure the safe consumption of the vegetables, including where and how long to store them to prevent broken seals or spoiling.
“The harvesting season is an awesome time of the year! There is just nothing like fresh corn from the garden, the zest of sun-ripened tomatoes, and crispy, tasty apples picked straight from the tree! Each week brings a new delightful array of opportunities for the taste buds,” said Cockerham, “So how does one make these flavors and fresh foods last throughout the year?
“Granted, you just can’t compete with fresh from the garden flavor, but armed with a few ABC’s of how to preserve foods, one can lengthen the use of produce from summer and fall’s bountiful harvest. There are even winter and spring possibilities for the most savvy of gardeners.”
This year’s class saw participation from two community members, and Cockerham said that the FCS Extension Office intends to continue hosting these classes yearly, to educate gardeners on how to maximize their financial savings and enjoyment of fresh garden-raised produce.
For more information, contact the Johnson County FCS Extension Office at, (606) 789-8108, or visit them at 826 FM Stafford Avenue in Paintsville. More information and detailed instructions on food preservation can be found at,

Trail Town leading the way

By Elaine Belcher
News Editor

The Paintsville/Johnson County Trail Town Certification Committee (Trail Town) took the lead this weekend to take advantage of the area’s natural resources.
On Saturday, the committee held their “Laid Back on the Lake” event at Paintsville Lake campground for approximately 115 people. Attendees were able to rent kayaks from Legend Outfitters and take a turn paddling around the lake and enjoying the natural splendor of the area. Live music from The Fairchild Sisters, Waylon Bayes, Donnie Bowen, Seth Ferguson, Brian Brown and campers at the lake was played. Hot dogs donated and prepared by Floater’s Waterfront Restaurant, alongside the music, contributed to a good turnout. Teeters and May Law Firm donated a kayak to be the prize in a drawing, won by Cindy Castle of Paintsville, who was camping at Paintsville Lake.
“After the last rain, we had a fantastic turnout of a great bunch of supportive people in the area and visitors in the campground,” said Brad Teeters, of Teeters and May Law Firm who attended the event.
On Sunday afternoon, more than 60 people gathered to hike out to the Auxier Flats Wildlife Management Area from Glade Branch, after convoying from the Paintsville Lake parking area. Hikers traveled down to the flats where a natural beach area allowed anyone who cared to chance a dip in the lake to refresh themselves.
“Great hike today with the trail town committee. Glad to see so many people coming out to enjoy the natural beauty of our community,” said Joe Castle, hike participant.
Anthony Skeans, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney and Trail Town volunteer, also announced to the group Sunday on Facebook that he had just been notified that Trail Town was officially a state-recognized non-profit program.
On Monday, Lara Pack, trail-town catalyst presented a request to the Johnson County Fiscal Court to allow volunteers permission to power-wash and repaint the old jail building in downtown Paintsville. The jail, made famous by the Tom T. Hall classic country song “A Week In A Country Jail” in 1969, is intended as a highlight on an urban walking trail of downtown Paintsville, according to Pack.
Pack said that work done by Regina McClure found a report that said that the interior of the jail was too dangerous to renovate, however the outside could be freshened up and repainted. She also said that they were working with volunteers from Olive Hill and Tom T. Hall’s management company towards getting a marble plaque with the history of the jail, including when Howard Sparks the local Salvation Army in the building.
Michael Endicott, Johnson County attorney, said there were concerns about county liability as no insurance for the volunteers could be provided. He suggested that only volunteers over 18-years-old sign waivers with witnesses be turned into the Fiscal Court. Pack agreed to the court’s suggestion, and the court agreed to the committee’s petition.
Additionally, the court named Pack as the Johnson County representative to the Kentucky Mountain Regional Recreation Authority (KMRRA)– an organization dedicated to the creation and promotion of a recreational trail system to increase the economic development, tourism and outdoor recreation for residents and visitors to Eastern Kentucky. KMRRA currently has participation from only nine of its 16 target counties.
“I feel KMRRA has been established to fill a need. We cannot rely on coal, or coal severance funds in particular, and adventure tourism is a viable method for economic development,” said Pack. “Kentucky had a $14 billion tourism market last year and we are going to take every opportunity to be a part of it. Trail Town, as well as the city and county governments, the extension office, and tourism commission are a team, we are making progress and it’s exciting to be a part of this plan for economic stability.”

32nd Annual Van Lear Days celebration brings out hometown pride

By Elaine Belcher
News Editor

The 32nd Annual Van Lear Days was held over the weekend, with an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 people attending the two-day celebration of all things Van Lear.
The celebration started on Friday evening, with the official opening of ceremonies at the Van Lear Historical Society Coal Miner’s Museum.
This year’s grand marshall was Joe Short, son of Dan and Katherine Daniels Short, who grew up in Van Lear and graduated from Van Lear High in 1950. His mother Kate was postmaster of the Van Lear Post Office from 1945 to 1970 and Short’s father, Dan, worked in the mines until 1950 and joined his wife at work in the Van Lear Post office until he passed away at work in 1964.
Short returned to live in Johnson County after his father’s death to help his mother and raise his family. He taught at Johnson Central High School for a year before turning his attention to teaching Industrial Arts at the Carl D. Perkins Rehabilitation Center before his retirement.
Evening performances of local country and bluegrass bands such as Charlie Hall and the Rocky Knob Ramblers, Five Miles From Nowhere; Ron Ramey Band and others brought out visitors and locals to dance, enjoy carnival games and compete in cornhole tournaments.
For the Friday night Women’s Corn Hole Tournament, first place went to Holly Rogers and Angie Burton. The Saturday evening mixed doubles tournament, first place went to the team of Doug Jennings and Holly Rogers, second place went to Donna Jennings and Lance Bowling and third place to Jimmy Burchett and Morgan McCoart. For the main cornhole tournament, first place went to Charles Meade and Ronnie Adkins, second place to Lauren McCoart and Teresa McCoart and third place Wesley Ellis and Andrew Stambaugh. For the youngest competitors in the kids tournament, first place went to Zack McCoart, second place to Tessa Crislip and third place to Addison Webb.
“We do free kids games at our park (Rucker Park),” said Tina Webb, director of the Van Lear Coal Miners Museum, “This year we added the painted rocks, it’s like Easter egg hunting except it’s rocks. One rock in each age group is the grand prize, all other rocks are marked with S, M, or L so everyone wins something.” This year’s grand prize winners for each group are Will Burchett for the 4-year-old and under group, Hannah Burchett for the 5-7-years old group and Tessa Crislip for the ages 8-years-old and up group.
The 15th Annual Van Lear Car show brought in 24 classic vehicles ranging from a 1929 Ford Sedan owned by Chris Mitchell of Williamsport to a 2015 Corvette owned by Gary Smith. However, best in show for his 1953 Chevy was Ray Slone.
“We try to be fair to everyone,” said Brian Castle, Van Lear Car Show judge. “We want everyone to have a good time and enjoy these vehicles.”
“We would like to thank everyone who came out and who helped us put this event together,” said Webb. “This has become a cherished annual tradition here and it is part of what makes Van Lear so special. We appreciate everyone who has become a part of it.”

Rocking for Vets spurs youth involvement

By Waylon Whitson
Staff Writer

The American Legion Jr. Group, United in HOPE (Helping Other People Excel) gathered Tuesday to paint rocks before making a trip Wednesday to the Huntington, W.Va. VA Medical Center to deliver the rocks to veterans.
As many as 30 kids were involved, painting more than 100 rocks in patriotic patterns including the flag of the United States and general red, white and blue designs.
“In HOPE, we were already discussing getting our kids painting rocks, and the VA got in on that conversation,” said Mark Rodriguez, a veteran helping with the project. “They wanted to know if we’d be willing to put some out on the VA Hospital grounds, to help the veterans get some exercise.”
The project was completed in affiliation with EKY Military Strong Bonds, another social support and outreach group centered on veterans and their families, and was made possible with help from East KY Stone & Supply, as well as several community volunteers.
Rodriguez said that the reaction Wednesday, when the kids were delivering the rocks, was completely positive.

“We had veterans chasing us down to get rocks,” said Rodriguez. “Once they noticed that a lot of the kids had painted their names and ages on the backs of the rocks, they said they were really happy to see that patriotism wasn’t dead, and there was a young generation still supporting our veterans.
“All of the kids said they had a blast and that they learned a lot from the vets, and that’s beneficial to them,” Rodriguez continued. “We’re planning more events for our youth group.”
Among those events are plans for a painting class for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on Aug. 8, and a Veterans Appreciation Dinner in September. For more information on scheduled events and volunteer opportunities, contact the Veteran’s Referral Center in Paintsville at, (606)789-7587.

Paintsville Tourism hosts first Picnic on Paint

By Waylon Whitson
Staff Writer

The first ever “Picnic on Paint,” hosted by Paintsville Tourism, kicked off Saturday at Paint Creek Park in downtown Paintsville. The event featured entertainment by Tim Brown, of “Raising the Levisa,” a local Paintsville band, and a table décor contest.
The event started with an estimated 70-80 participants competing in a coastal-themed décor contest, in which they decorated the table they rented. According to Kay Hall, a Paintsville Tourism commissioner, there were 16 tables sold total. The table decorated by Citizens National Bank won the contest by popular vote and received eight free movie passes for the SIPP Theater.
“The weather’s been great, everything’s turned out perfect,” said Hall. “We’ve had good response and everybody’s been excited about it. We’d love to do this again next year, and this is only one more step in bringing activities to downtown Paintsville. Our objective is to use Paint Creek Park as much as we can.
“We wish to thank our sponsors, Matt Runyon, Bocook Engineering, Kinner & Patton Law Office, Redd, Brown & Williams Real Estate, Wells Porter Banks and Shaw Law Office, Citizens National Bank, Jones-Preston Funeral Home, Pelphrey Rentals, Jim Gambill, Leigh Ann Daniels, Kathryn Staniford and Joey and Angel Couch,” said Hall, “Each of these sponsors helped make the event possible, and the musical contributions from Tim helped make it memorable.”
Paintsville Tourism intends to make the Picnic on Paint a yearly event, according to Hall.

  • City of Paintsville
  • Paintsville Independent Schools
  • Johnson County Schools
  • Our Lady of the Mountains

  • Johnson County Fiscal Court
  • Johnson County Public Library
  • Paintsville Tourism
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