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Johnson Central High School Drama Club to perform The Lion King, first at SIPP Theater since renovations

By Waylon Whitson
Staff Writer

The Johnson Central High School Players will host its production of The Lion King at the historic SIPP Theater over the next two weeks from April 20-21 at 7 p.m., April 22 at 2 and 7 p.m., and April 27-28 at 7 p.m. both nights. This will be the first performance at the SIPP Theater since a recent renovation was completed, and is intended to showcase the new building, as well as the talents of the JCHS Players.
Emily Warne, Director of the production said, “We’re trying to help promote theatre to the community, and to showcase the creativity and hard work in practice these kids have been doing since January.”
The SIPP Theater was constructed in 1931 and opened in January 1932 as Paintsville’s first theater and has operated since that time as a combination movie and concert venue. It has hosted many concerts since, and presents about 15 events a year, including movies and drama performances. The recent renovations have helped restore structural rigidity as well as rejuvenate the classic appearance of the theater, while still retaining the feel of a small town movie theater. The SIPP Theater Foundation is still accepting donations for continued maintenance and renovations, including several incentives and commemorations for levels of donation. Included is the Producer (business level) for one year at $2,500 or two years at $5,000, which includes incentives such as a private screening for up to 300 guests on a Thursday night, personal or video welcome on behalf of your organization, business name on the marquee as a sponsor for a movie, as well as all print, radio, and internet promotions for the 2017 season, business name on a plaque in the lobby and a theatre seat, as well as twenty individual tickets. The next level is Director, which includes your name on a lobby plaque and theatre seat, 10 individual tickets and your name on the welcoming video for the 2017-2018 Season. The Director package weighs in at $1,000. The Leading Actor package contains the plaque and seat commemoration as well as two individual tickets, and is $500. Supporting Role is $250, and commemorates the donor’s name on a theatre seat. Lastly, the Movie Buff Punch Card is $50 and includes admission, a soda and popcorn for 12 events at the price of 10. The SIPP Theater Foundation can be reached for any further questions at (606)789-2600 or (606)297-1469.

Johnson County Middle School holds special rally celebrating students

By Waylon Whitson
Staff Writer

On Friday, April 14 faculty and students at Johnson County Middle School gathered in the gymnasium for a ceremony recognizing the academic team and coach Pam Burton for their remarkable achievements in winning the Governor’s Cup not only six times in a row, but 14 times total, making them the school with the highest all time Governor’s Cup victories in the commonwealth. Johnson County is also the only school district internationally, according to Burton, which has won Future Problem Solving at Elementary, Middle, and High School grade levels.
In their honor, the Johnson County Fiscal Court has declared April 14 JCMS Academic Team Appreciation Day.
Superintendent of the Johnson County School District Tom Salyer spoke at the rally, and spoke highly of the students and the middle school, telling students and staff alike that they were astonished and humbled by their continued success.
Academic Team Coach and Gifted and Talented Program Coordinator Pam Burton spoke after Salyer, and recognized each member of the academic team and the teachers and friends that helped guide them to success individually. Burton discussed the determination and the amount of funding that is required to continue to propel these students into successful roles in the community, and was quoted as saying, “Winning is expensive, but losing is more expensive.”
Burton’s speech was followed by individual statements from each member of the Quick Recall team, who were each met with applause.
Those weren’t the only remarkable students honored at the rally, however, as the students responsible for Operation Ordinary, a program which seeks to involve Special Education students in normal social interaction with the rest of the student body, were also honored, and spoke about their vision for the program. When all of the students had finished their speeches, the students of Mrs. Dyers’ special education class came to the front of the gymnasium and were presented with trophies to commemorate them and the benefit that the program had both for them and for the students that worked with them.
The rally ended with the vast majority of the student body joining the students in special education in the middle of the gym floor for some friendly dancing, and then the students were dismissed.

Season’s first Cruiz’n: sunshine, spaghetti and superchargers

By Waylon Whitson
Staff Writer

Paintsville’s Fazoli’s became home to some of our town’s most beautiful pet projects as the sun set over our town on Friday.
The East Ky Gearheads hosted their first Cruiz’n of the year under ideal conditions with wonderful weather and delicious food. There were roughly 15 or more individuals in attendance, with passersby stopping to glance at the fruits of each of the group’s individual labor, all unique in their own right.
In the parking lot were everything from works-in-progress to finely polished restorations, and even a modified late model looking better than the day it rolled off the showroom floor. Those present all had a smile glued to their faces, and laughter was a common sound.
When asked why it is that the Gearheads have these gatherings, group President Casey Jones said, “We organize to get local hot rodders together to enjoy the culture, buy and sell projects, hopefully get some new people interested in the hobby and to help promote tourism.”
Each subsequent gathering this year will carry with it a theme for a different type of build, with April 15th’s alley and theme to be decided, May 20th’s trucks, vans, Jeeps and 4x4’s, June 17th’s Mopar Madness, July 15th’s Ford Alley and Mustangs on Main, August 19th’s GM Night and Corvette Alley, and last but not least, September 16th’s Primer Alley, RatRods and Unfinished.
The group plans to have a Cruiz’n at a different restaurant on the third Saturday of every month from April to September, and invites everyone to come out to show off their own rides, join in a meal, make some new friends and have a good time all the while supporting local craftsmen and promoting local business. For updates on locations and themes for each gathering, visit and request to join the group on Facebook by searching for ‘East KY Gearheads.’

Country Music Highway Museum hosts bluegrass royalty

By Waylon Whitson
Staff Writer

For the past 52 years, the torch of bluegrass music has been carried faithfully by one of the old guard. His name is Larry Sparks, and the Lonesome Ramblers he travels with are some of the most talented bluegrass musicians you’d ever have the pleasure of listening to. His journey began when he toured with the Stanley brothers as a guitarist and later sang lead vocals for Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys at the height of their empire, and then began his long journey as a solo musician in 1969. Sparks’ style is that of an old time gospel singer, and his voice is still as smooth as one could imagine.
Sparks has held the key to Paintsville since 2013, and the way he was received on Friday makes it easy to understand why. Positioned in a rocking chair near the front entrance of the museum, Sparks was accessible and down-to-earth, and spoke with nostalgia on the history of the region he calls home just as we do. When asked about his familiarity of the area, Sparks said, “I can remember when they were building new (US) 23, and I’ve been up and down this road more times than I can count. I’ve burned (US) 23 up.”
It isn’t hard to imagine why that is, as the museum was filled from front to back with people young and old enjoying a man that embodies the spirit the building was made to honor. Long story short, Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers are in high demand, and I can’t imagine they’ll ever stop. It was quite an enjoyable place to be ‘A Face in the Crowd’ that night, as Sparks and his young troupe of troubadours Daniel Patrick (banjo/dobro), Evan Lanier (fiddle/mandolin) and Samantha Patrick (bass) sang the harmonies of old and all four continue to keep the spirit of the Country Music Highway very much alive.
Sparks’ band was joined by the Mitchell Shepherd Band, which includes talented local musicians hailing from every corner of the tri-state area, including its namesake, Mitchell Shepherd Jr. (guitar/lead vocals), Derek Sparkman (lead guitar), James Stiltner (banjo), Kenny Frazier (mandolin), Monte Webb (guitar) and Sterling Sexton (bass). Stiltner’s grandfather Johnny Jackson also joined the band for a song, which was a great nod to the family atmosphere inherent in the room. The group was well received and was comprised of extremely talented musicians. Sparkman, being quite an accomplished bluegrass guitar player in his own right, having played in nearly, if not all, of the contiguous states. This skill and experience was apparent in each member of the band as each solo incited applause from the crowd, each round followed by a hasty hush for further listening. Sound was provided by Lester Green, and executed extremely well, with a very easy listening experience for all in attendance.
All in all, the general atmosphere was one of reverence as Paintsville enjoyed the presence of a living legend, and celebrated the heritage of the area’s music. Phyllis Rice, promoter for Larry Sparks, brought this event to us, and helps to keep Larry on the road. Larry’s webpage can be found at and is where you can locate any and all info you may need, or you can contact Rice directly at

Jeep and truck show raises funds for local animal shelter

By Elaine Belcher
Staff Writer

Wildcat Tire and Auto in Hagerhill held their first Jeep and Truck Show on Saturday, April 1 to help raise food and funds to support the Johnson County Animal Shelter.
For vehicle entry into the show, participants donated 820 pounds of dry dog and cat food. Additionally, the event raised $784 toward the shelter’s overhead and veterinary costs.
Overall Jeep winner was Tyler Compton of Whitesburg; overall Truck winner was Frank Price of Paintsville. Both winners received trophies as well as $600 cash. Overall winners in individual categories were: Cory Taylor, Dale Burton, Danny Price, Cody Combs, Steve Justice, Harold Forrest, Robbie Hicks, Zach Todd and Nathan Stewart.
“We feel so blessed that Teresa and Wildcat Tire chose to do this fundraiser!” said Lisa Trusty-Roberts, Director of the Johnson County Animal Shelter. “Teresa and her family adopted a sweet Mikka from the shelter last year and she has truly become part of their family.”
“We wanted to do more than just donate,” said Teresa Anderson, event organizer. “The biggest benefit was to the animal shelter, but we also wanted to get people out to know where we are and what we do as well as share our appreciation of the community that is our home for over 40 years.”
In addition to the Jeep and Truck Show, this Saturday marks the 5th Annual Rockin’ Barkin’ BBQ at the Paintsville Country Club from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is $35 for food provided by Ol’ Blue BBQ and Ponderosa Steakhouse.
“This is the shelter’s biggest fundraiser and one we depend on to keep the doors open to the shelter and allow us to care for the stray, abused and abandoned animals in this community,” said Trusty-Roberts. “We have local businesses who are sponsoring the event: Ol’ Blue BBQ, Copy Cats Printing, Ponderosa and K.A.M. Mechanics as well as many other local business who are donating items for the silent auction. We are so very grateful to the many community organizations, businesses and community members who have and continue to support the shelter and it’s precious animals.”
“We’re inviting everyone to come out and get a good meal and support the shelter at the same time. It’s going to be a great time,” said Trusty-Roberts. “We’ve got lively music from the Tim Elkins band and Troy Burchett, libations on tap, and a silent auction. All proceeds will go toward the Johnson County Animal Shelter.

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

  • Johnson County Fiscal Court
  • Johnson County Public Library
  • Paintsville Tourism
  • Chamber of Commerce
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