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Kentucky Chautauqua: Daniel Boone – The First Kentuckian
Pictured above are Marie Gravely and Shelia Plogger from Marshall University’s Appalachian Diabetes Coalition, Brenda Cockerham from the University of Kentucky Extension office, Teresa McCoart from Big Sandy Community and Technical College, Karen Salyer from Johnson Central High School, Stacy Crum representing Passport Health Plan, Anita Cantrell from Johnson Central Middle School, Christy Terry from the Johnson County Public Library, Jennifer Wilson from the Paintsville-Johnson County Health Department and Jamie Ward from the Big Sandy Diabetes Coalition gathered for a class in “gentle yoga,” a form of yoga made for those with physical limitations.

By Elaine Belcher
News Editor

“Daniel Boone played a crucial role in the exploration and settlement of Ken-tucky and thus a crucial role in America’s westward expansion.”
These words in the program for the Kentucky Humanities Chautauqua per-formance of “Daniel Boone: The First Kentuckian” sum up the life and times of one of Kentucky’s forefathers. But, it was the performance of actor Kevin Hardesty that brought Boone to life for the audience at the Johnson County Public Library on Tuesday night and at a special school performance at the Historic SIPP Theater on Wednesday morning.
Hardesty, of Lexington, has played the role of Boone for the Kentucky Chautauqua for the past two years and nearly 200 performances across the state for schools, community theaters, and for other organizations.
“I spent 18 months researching Boone’s history and information, filtering fact and fiction from each other,” said Hardesty. “I really enjoy going to schools and li-braries to better share what Boone as a person was like.”
“He wasn’t necessarily an educated man – but he was intelligent. He spent his life in the woods and had a deep appreciation for nature,” he said. “Sometimes we forget that while Boone was first starting to explore Kentucky, the Revolutionary War was going on.”
Hardesty also said that he felt that while Boone was known to be an explorer and had many encounters with the Shawnee Tribe and others, Boone never sought out a fight if he could talk first.
During the 45-minute performance, Hardesty, as Boone, shared stories about his family, his adventures while exploring Kentucky while establishing Fort Boone - later Boonesborough.
Kentucky Humanities is an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C. The Council is supported by the National Endowment and by private contributions and partners with Kentucky’s cultural, heritage, arts, and tourism agencies.
The current Kentucky Chautauqua cast includes 26 figures from Kentucky’s history ranging from John G. Fee’s fight to abolish slavery and Mary Todd Lincoln’s life as America’s First Lady, to Alice Lloyd’s struggle to bring education to Appalachia and the humorous stories of Harland “Colonel” Sanders.
For more information on the Kentucky Humanities Chautauqua and upcoming local performances, please visit, or call the Johnson County Public Library at, (606) 789 - 4355.

American Legion Youth  give back to Wounded Warriors

Staff Report

This past weekend Johnson County’s American Legion Youth Group traveled to the western half of Kentucky to Fort Campbell, Home of the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Division to assist with the Fisher House Fall Cleanup.
“The Fisher House provides a transitional facility to soldiers, veterans and families of wounded or fallen soldiers returning from combat or training operations around the world and/or receiving medical treatment on Fort Campbell,” said, Mark Rodriguez, ALYG coordinator
According to Rodriguez, the Youth Group planted more than 150 tulips donated by Doug and Kay Murphy, Eastern Kentucky Strong Bond Group and Davis Produce in Hagerhill to bloom in the spring to beautify the area outside the facility and assist with the wellbeing and the morale of the warriors and their family members.
“When not gardening, youth members were involved in cooking dinner and socializing with Wounded Warrior families and visited the Fort Campbell Museum to receive a tour of a combat unit,” said Rodriguez. “They also visited with soldiers and spent time at the Fort Campbell Memorial Park honoring the fallen heroes.” 
”I am very proud of these kids and what they have accomplished over the past few months, these young leaders have bonded, grew and most of all learned from their experiences gained through volunteerism,” said Rodriguez.  
Rodriguez said he wants to challenge students who want to excel while helping others and are interested in meeting new people and seeing new places. Those interested in learning more are encouraged to talk to a member or attend a meeting at Johnson Central High School.
“The youth group is rapidly growing and welcomes any youth who want to be a part of something that is focused on helping others,” he said. “The group holds monthly meetings and is open to kids as young as sixth grade in traditional, private or homeschool to attend.”

Beefin’ It Up at the Davis Farm

By Elaine Belcher
News Editor

The Johnson County Extension Office hosted “Beefin’ It Up” at the farm of Gary and April Davis on Ky. Rt. 201 on the Johnson/Lawrence County line on Oct. 21, a celebration of local beef producers.
“This is a chance for everyone to speak with producers to purchase beef, to taste test the difference between breeds and the difference between local and shipped beef as well as network with professional purchasers and those who appreciate good beef,” said Brenda Cockerham, family and consumer sciences agent at the Johnson County Extension Office. “We’ve held this event over the last five years or so, and it has really grown into more of a family-friendly event.”
Local vendors were on hand with Johnson County products for sale, produced with the help of the Extension Office as well as students representing 4-H and the Future Farmers of America. More than 200 people attended the event, including hayrides, pumpkin decorating and costume contest spaced with pony rides and locally produced Kentucky-Proud food.
Winners of the costume contest were Kinsley McKenzie in first place, Tristan Spradlin in second place and Leah King in third place.
Teenagers competed in a contest to see which tractor could go the slowest, with Morgan Pelphrey taking first place followed by Daysha Burchett.
“I think the event went well this year. It is exciting to see how it has grown to this point,” said Cockerham. “The Highlands Beef-Cattle Association will start taking the lead on this annual event from this point forward, however, we will still be a part of it for years to come.”

Paint Creek Park hosts Pints on Paint

By Aaron K. Nelson,
Appalachian News

Pints on Paint, Bushels of Arts and Mountains of Music — the first ever arts, music and craft beer festival organized by the Paintsville and Johnson County Trail Town Committee — went off as a success Saturday evening at Paint Creek Park.
Visitors downtown could tour the arts, crafts, clothes and jewelry for sale from a multitude of vendors, or take in a live chainsaw carving demonstration. The event featured two stages for musical performances, with one along Court Street open to everyone and another in the craft beer garden at Paint Creek Park, with the park open only to those 21 and over while the Veterans Memorial Bridge served as an observation area for everyone else.
Craft beers on tap at the event included Prestonsburg-based Kentucky 23 Brewing Co. and Pulaski County’s Jarfly Brewing Co., as well as Goodwood from Louisville, Alltech and West Sixth from Lexington, Country Boy Brewing from Georgetown, and Rhinegeist from Cincinnati.
The trail town committee also worked to beautify the surrounding area with a vibrant coat of new paint on the old buildings earlier this summer.

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.

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