I’m just saying: Let’s start 2014 out right

I'm just saying . . .  James Cook - Times Editor

I'm just saying . . . James Cook - Times Editor

I want to start this column by apologizing to the Community Friends for missing their annual free Christmas Dinner. They work so hard to make sure no one is alone on Christmas. I usually show up, take a few pictures and do a story. But I guess all the running around caught up to me and I failed to make it.  I am sorry.
Thanks to Wallace and Deborah Reed for taking care of me this week. They provided the pictures you see on the front page of this year’s dinner.

As we begin 2014 we have to take a look back at 2013 just so we can see what transpired and how not to make the same mistakes again. We also want to remember the good things.
It is what we do.
We remember our past and plan for our future. I loved a lot of 2013, but I also learned a lot from it as well.
I got to meet more interesting people, do more interesting stories and had to say good-bye to a few heroes. We lost good men like Carl Wells, Sr., WWII vets Franklin Snowden and Harry Rose. All three were men I got to know a little better over the past few years. They will be missed.
But I also got to meet Homer McCoy. He is a WWII veteran who saw a lot, like many of that generation did. He took part in 16 invasions in the South Pacific. Not only was I impressed with his service, but the fact that he thanked God for everything. I was moved by that.
Of course, I made a few people mad doing my job. That comes with the territory. But integrity has to be maintained and telling the story as honestly as I can is all I’ll ever do.
I got to see one of God’s great creations for the first time. I got to see the Atlantic Ocean. It was awe inspiring as well as breath taking. Even better I got to see it with my family and it was my daughter’s first glimpse at it as well.
There are so many things I could not possibly list them all.
But last month I learned a great lesson I want to share with you.
I heard on the news about a teenager who suffers from “affluenza.” Apparently his family is so rich and he is not held to any consequences for his actions because of this. Apparently being a bad parent is OK if you have money. Anyway, this teen stole beer from a Walmart, got drunk and plowed over four people, killing them. He was supposed to get a 10 year sentence, but the judge agreed that “affluenza” affected the boy and he did not know he was in the wrong.
He gets 10 years probation and a trip to a high-priced rehab center. A poor boy would have went to jail in a New York minute.
How sad. The story made me mad.
But then while we were typing Santa Letters or our newspaper I came across a letter that gave me hope that there is still good out there.
I will not mention the child by name or their school, so I’ll call the child CC. But their letter to Santa simply asked that every homeless kid and adult have a home and some food for Christmas. They did not ask for anything for themselves. Every kid wants something from Santa, but not CC. It almost made me cry. I hope CC had a great Christmas.
In this big world, with a new year upon us, let us strive to be like CC and put the good of our neighbors first. I believe it is what God and His son wanted.
I’m just saying . . .

The greatest gift I have ever received

I'm just saying . . .  James Cook - Times Editor

I'm just saying . . . James Cook - Times Editor

(I hope you don’t mind, but this week I reworked an old column to express how much I appreciate the gifts God has given me and the love I have for my daughter. I hope you will indulge me this week and I hope you have a great Christmas!)

At this time of year everyone starts anticipating about what gift they will receive for Christmas. Kids love toys, lots and lots of toys. Women like jewelry; money and anything that makes them feel special. We fellows have our own toys. It may be a new car, gun, bow and arrow, tool set – just whatever, let us be men.
Over the years I have received some real nice gifts. Growing up my parents always made Christmas special. Whether it was a G.I Joe, the Evil Knieval action figure and motorcycle, a bike, boom box or whatever, it was always just perfect for that time.
As a grown up I have always receive just what I needed. Good clothes, “man toys” like tools and such. (Recently I received a cool shirt that helps me show support for my favorite college football team from Didi Roe and her family.) One year I got a gray jacket that I wore all the time because it was totally perfect.
Looking back I can think of three gifts that are the best I could have ever received. One of which we all can receive if we choose to do so. That would be God sending his son to this earth as a baby, to grow up, feel what we feel and die for our sins. That is the greatest gift anyone can receive. By far, it is on top of the list.
But on this earth, and thanks to God above again, the best gift I ever received came to me on Dec. 13, 1996. I didn’t know it at the time, though I was quite excited and torn up about it.
You see, that is when my daughter was born. We knew a child was coming, but I didn’t know if it was a girl or boy. However, an unfortunate medical problem created a dilemma. My wife had to have emergency surgery. At one point the doctors asked me if they could only save one, which one were they to help – my wife or my child.
And you thought you had some tough decisions.
Fortunately, despite almost losing both, they made it. Not long after that I got to hold my little bundle of joy. Because her momma was sick and recovering, I guess my little princess bonded with me first.
It is a bond that holds fast today, even if she did just turn 17 tomorrow (Friday). Those 17 years have been full of surprises, some discipline and a lot of fun and love.
Over the past six months I have watched as my daughter has been driving by herself, looking at colleges and actually talking about a future where I may not be there with her everyday. My little girl is growing up way too fast. Her momma wonders where did all the time go and I wonder if I have done my best over that time frame to be a father she can be proud of. Because she is a daughter I am proud to have.
As I watch her and her friends, I catch myself remembering days gone by. Like the day I brought her home and our first Christmas together. And a day at the Fort Boonesborough pool, her first plunge and she wasn’t even a year old yet.
Then I remembered days like the Baby Show Contest at the Powell County Fair or the times she learned how to finger paint and gave me a picture.
As she helped out this past weekend at a clothing giveaway with her friends, my mind wondered back to the early Christmases when she would open a gift and the wide eyed excitement you could see on her face was priceless. Then she’d want Daddy to play, and we did. (Fact is, I still like playing. But the Just Dance craze is not my cup of tea, not in public anyway.)
I can remember the nights I would come home from working second shift at the Fayette County Detention Center. I’d be tired and trying to be as quiet as a 300 pound man wearing combat boots and a full duty belt could be as I came in. I’d sit on the couch and turn on the TV, then I’d hear her little feet hit the floor and she’d come creeping down the hall. Slowly peeking in I’d tell her to come on and she’d jump in my lap, tell me about her day and we’d sneak some ice cream out of the freezer.
My how time flies and we never seem to fully grasp what is going on until it is gone.
I can remember for 15 of those past 17 years (she started this when she was two) I’d be her butler on her birthday. This year I will be a part-time butler as she will be in school most of the day. After all she is a princess, at least in my eyes.  As the butler anything she wanted, Daddy was there to do and Mommy would just laugh at us. You see it was Momma’s job to keep both of her kids in line. She’s done pretty good with one and I’ll let you guess who she has a hard time with.
She is growing up too fast. Boys suddenly are awesome and then not so much as things don’t turn out as she had hoped. When she hurts, so do I. But there is always a silver lining.
Best of all she never causes me and her momma any grief. I believe that is because we gave her to God many years ago, and with us watching closely and God doing his thing all will be well. Two summers ago He gave her back to me, for a while longer.
That year I received another “best gift ever.” As many of you know she was bitten by a timber rattlesnake in our backyard. I held her and tried to keep her airway open as her face and neck swelled and her breathing became more and more shallow. For a while I thought I was losing my best gift ever. But God had other plans.
Thanks to a lot of prayers from this community, good medical care, fast action by emergency personnel and a God that cares, I got my Christmas for that year back in July.
Every year my wife asks, my friends ask and my family will ask – What do you want for Christmas? My answer is simple. I got one of the best gifts I could have received on Dec. 13, 1996. I got another one on July 28, 2011 and I got the one we all can receive some 17 years ago. I don’t need anything else. These are gifts that gave me a purpose, a life and a family of my own.
They are gifts I would never think about exchanging or complaining about (unlike some old sweaters I have received.) My daughter is the gift of a lifetime and she always will be. God’s love is a gift that will follow with me throughout this lifetime and into eternity
So remember, as you look for that perfect gift and ask yourself, what do I want people to give me, the answer may be closer than you think and you may already have it.
I know I could never get a better gift than my wife and God above has already given me. No way, no how.
Happy Birthday my little Princess. Happy Birthday Jesus. And thank you God again for another year with the perfect gifts.
I’m just saying . . .

Slow down an enjoy the pine cones

I'm just saying . . .  James Cook - Times Editor

I'm just saying . . . James Cook - Times Editor

Well, it’s finally here!
The Christmas season has crept right up on us. Now how is it possible that Christmas catches us by surprise. After all, as my wife likes to remind me, it comes on December 25 every year.
But this year has gone by so fast, or seems that way to me. To be honest, I’m just not ready.
Usually, I have a few weeks to prepare. But with a busy work schedule (you ought to see my calendar for next week, which begins this Friday), a daughter getting ready to turn 17 (back off boys, I’m not too old to watch after my little girl) and holiday happenings everywhere, well it has put me in a tough and hectic spot.
There are a bunch of Santa Letters to be typed (I don’t want coal in my stocking this year, so I’ve got to get on those quick.)
But last week I was reminded that we still need to slow down and not only enjoy life and the season, but to enjoy the people and friends around us.
What could be so important that we rush here and there and miss out on fellowship with our neighbors.
A near miss for two women I don’t know and a man I think the world of had me thinking, do I really take time to smell the roses (or this time of year the pine cones) and enjoy life to its fullest? Do any of us?

So this week I want to challenge all of you who are reading this to take a few minutes each day to talk with God, your neighbors and anyone you meet. Who knows, it may be the break you need to feel more into the season.

I’m just saying . .

We need to be thankful everyday

By James Cook, Clay City Times Editor

Sometime today (Thursday) many of us will sit around a table that is overflowing with turkey, potatoes, stuffing, corn and desserts. There may be so much food we have to put some on our counters as go through a buffet style line to load our plates.
Then we will sit down, say a prayer of thanks and enjoy the food, family and memories.
But many others will barely get by with a meager meal of whatever they could throw together. It may be nothing more than the small packets of processed turkey meat; you know the kind you get two for a dollar. Maybe some chips and a soft drink. And they will be thankful.
Still a few more will be hoping that the goodness of man has not departed this world for they have nothing. They will hope and pray that someone cares enough to open a soup kitchen or provide a warm place for them to maybe eat a sandwich of any kind. And they too will be thankful.
Some soldiers will be on a front position, watching for a sign of trouble, any threat and have thoughts of their family and this holiday battling inside their head as they hold that position. It may be cold, raining, blistering hot, freezing or just plain eerily quiet. Our soldiers and sailors around the world may get a good meal or an MRE, and yet they will be thankful because they know people here are supporting them. I am thankful for them, everyday.
Being thankful for what we have or what we receive is something a lot of us do. We should, God has blessed us.
But for others who tend to take life for granted they do not have to look far to see just how thankful they should be.
On this holiday there will be some people who sit alone, wondering how their life got to be this way and try to figure out why they are even still here. Others will be sitting in a room full of family; eating and enjoying the day, while inside they feel so alone.
We need to take a few minutes today to just think about where we have been in life and where we could have ended up. We need to make sure our children realize that but if not for hard work, pushing ourselves and the love of God above, we could be in a totally different circumstance. Plus we need to remember that we could easily end up as a person who needs others, so we should always be there to help others.
I write these things because at different stages in my life I have been in some of these circumstances. But through others kindness and God’s love, I am able to help others.
For this I am eternally thankful to the Lord above.
I give thanks each day for my family, for my wife, my friends, my wonderful co-workers, those who I work with in the community and those who I call my church family.
I have given thanks everyday for almost 17 years now for my daughter, who is truly the one who has kept me more focused on letting God know how much I appreciate Him. I am even more thankful that He gave her a second chance and gave her back to us again.
I am thankful to you, the readers. Without you I am just a crazy man writing stories for no reason. But because of you I am able to feel more like I am contributing to my community and I truly am humbled by the fact that you are here for us.
I am thankful each day for the roof over my head, shoes on my feet, clothes on back, food on my table, a job to go to and a car to get me there. I may not have the best, but what I have I am thankful for. I am thankful for God’s love, His caring and His mercy.
There is a song that basically says, “I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart, I will enter His courts with praise. I will say this is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
In good times and bad, even when life may not seem fair, we need to give thanks for all we have and not worry about we do not have. God provides, we just need to be thankful for it. And help those who we can help, being thankful that we are blessed enough to do that.
I’m just saying . . .

Happy Thanksgiving and remember to say an extra prayer for those who may need a little extra this time of year.

Pulling together again, awesome!

I'm just saying . . .  James Cook - Times Editor

I'm just saying . . . James Cook - Times Editor

With the sudden closing of Stanton Elementary due to a bat situation, which we can discuss that issue another day, the Powell County School System and the community knew there was going to be a problem. But not for long.
As we often do in this county, we pulled together and in a matter of a few days a plan to help temporarily was worked out. Other schools jumped in and helped make the SES students and staff feel welcome. Students at the other schools made them feel comfortable Local churches jumped in and helped without hesitation.
That is what friends, family and a community does – help each other.
The most amazing thing I saw was all the “positive” comments in the social media. Usually there is a small percentage that just wants to complain, but in this case it seems like most people understood the problem and want to help.
Sure we may not agree on politics, issues, sports teams or even what to eat. But we can also take care of those who need it. Let’s keep it up.
That is why I love this county and why I am proud to tell people I’m from Powell County!
I’m just saying . . .

I’m just saying: Time is fleeting, but friendships can last forever

I'm just saying . . .  James Cook - Times Editor

I'm just saying . . . James Cook - Times Editor

I know it has been a while since I have written a column. It has been quite hectic and I wanted to give some other opinions a chance to be expressed.
However, after a few calls, a few “Hey, can I talk to you’s” in the stores and a few questions about whether or not I was still employed here, I figured I had better write something. But instead of a silly look at recent happenings, like that awesome opening of the Obamacare Health Care website or the parties bickering like children in the school yard about who was tagged in freeze tag, I decided  to write about something different.
In recent weeks there have been people who I have known for years, pass away. I considered them friends. They came along in a time in my life when I needed their friendship and that has lasted all of these years.
Bill Mize was one of a kind. He was like a father figure, giving advice and listening to problems not only of his own children, but for me as well. When my daughter was born, it was him and his wife, Darnell, who sort of took my wife under their wings and welcomed my daughter like she was a grandchild of theirs.
There was not a time I can think of when Bill didn’t ask about my daughter and wife, whenever he saw me. That may be at Kroger, where he would sneak up on us, or at the flea market or at a yard sale. He loved to go to yard sales and the flea market. He would tell me about the great bargains he would find. He looked at things like what others wanted to get of differently. He took those items and made them into something for somebody, if he didn’t store it up for a while.
That was they way he made me feel at a time when I was unsure if I was of any value. A new wife, new baby, low paying job and entering a chapter in adulthood I was very unsure of. But Bill, and Darnell, seemed to be the right people at the right time to step in and offer that advice we needed.
Bill worked for us at the Times for a short while, before he was diagnosed with his illness. I knew he could do a good job and he did. He hated to leave and I hated to see him go. Like many others in our lives, we didn’t see each other a lot, as we went about our daily business. But there has always been and will always be a a certain respect I hold for him. We will miss him.
Then just last week I got word late Thursday that an umpiring mentor and friend of over 30 years, Jimmy Chadwick, had suffered a stroke. I was not able to get to UK on Friday but I received word again that day that Jimmy had passed away. I was at a loss for words.
I met Jimmy as he umpired games when I played high school baseball. Later he ended up becoming a friend and we umpired many, many games together over the years. When we wasn’t doing that we would hang out at the radio station or even broadcast some games together.
Back then we thought Faith Hill wasn’t bad as a singer, but man she was cute.
You could not hang out with Jimmy and be depressed. He always had a funny story or a joke to tell. No game I ever umpired with him was boring and in fact I learned a lot from him. Don’t get me started on the radio broadcasts. If it wasn’t for him, back in those days, his friendship kept me out of trouble I was heading for and into more productive things.
Jimmy helped me at a low point in my life to not take life too seriously, laugh a little, even if its at myself.
Over the past 10 years or so we didn’t see each other as much. He got into professional wrestling and loved it. He spent time with his youngest son and when I did see him he would talk about his love for his boy. sadly, the last few times I got to see him we were passing each other in the hallways at St. Joseph Mount Sterling on those occasions we both had tests to be run.
Earlier this year we sat together at a basketball game and just talked about sports and families. Of course, we spent a lot of time joking and having fun, laughing at the officials and some of the plays on the floor. It was like old times.
Now that he’s gone, there be no more “balk” calls coming from out of the blue at Kroger, or  elbow strikes to the head as he snuck up on me just about anywhere. I will miss my friend, a lot.
Take some time today, tomorrow, anytime, to reach out to an old friend and just let them know that they mean something to you. One day you won’t be able to and you’ll wish you could. I do now.
I’m just saying . . .

Guest column: Domestic Violence is a topic that needs awareness

Guest Columnist

As many of you know who I am in the county. What you may not know is where I come from; you don’t truly know me, as a person. I have a purple ribbon tattoo on my right hand. When someone sees it they say, “oh is that cancer awareness:” I say no it is domestic violence awareness; which normally leads to the remark, “Why, did somebody beat you up?” My response is simple. No, someone stole my life.
My counselor use to tell me to put a dot on my right hand to remind me of something, because I would forget easily. Well, this is a reminder of who I am, where I have been, and where I want to go with my life. Everyone has a story. I want to share a very small portion of my story.
My mission is simple. I want to take what turned into a horrible situation in my life into a positive experience that people would be inspired by. I hope it would make a difference for the better and bring awareness in my community.
I was a part of the vicious cycle called domestic violence beginning when I was born, as the witness of DV and a victim of child abuse, before being taken away from my biological family. I always said I’d never become a victim or expose my children to that. I was always a strong person who always defended myself and others around me. Then I too fell into the cycle of domestic violence. I’ve been around domestic violence for more than three decades. As a child, a teenager and as an adult I’ve experienced Domestic Violence. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, girls and women between the ages of 16 and 24 are at greatest risk of becoming domestic violence victims, and experience abuse at a rate three times greater than other groups.
I first started this column a couple of weeks ago, but after seeing so much breast cancer awareness in the media I decided to reword my column. It became clear to me that with all the awareness of this serious disease called breast cancer, the awareness of domestic violence has once again been “covered up,” a term used by domestic violence victims frequently. Since last week I felt a need to change a few other things in the column as well before submitting it, due to the last weeks Clay City Times, on the front page was a story of a domestic violence situation here in our county, our small community.
October is not only Breast Cancer Awareness month it is also Domestic Violence Awareness month. It is about coming together as advocates and victims sharing stories of survival. It is to bring awareness to those around us, before it is too late. This October, Be Alert. Stay Aware. Empower. Encourage. Awareness and education as well as prevention and reporting will decrease the Domestic Violence and we can stop this and hopefully cease DV from existence.
You may be asking yourself, “What exactly is domestic violence?” According to the U.S. Department of Justice, domestic violence may include:
Physical abuse such as slapping, kicking, hitting, shoving, or other physical force.
• Sexual abuse including rape, sexual assault, forced prostitution, or interfering with birth control.
• Emotional abuse such as shouting, name-calling, humiliation, constant criticism, or harming the victim’s relationship with her or his children.
• Psychological abuse including threats to harm the victims’ family, friends, children, co-workers, or pets, isolation, mind games, destruction of victims’ property, or stalking.
• Economic abuse such as controlling the victim’s money, withholding money for basic needs, interfering with school or job, or damaging the victim’s credit.
Rita Smith is executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which also claims October as its awareness-raising month.  She states, “It is any wonder that, even though domestic violence affects many more women and families, breast cancer is the issue we’ve all come to associate with October? Every year 232,340 women are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer; 1.3 million are assaulted by their husbands or boyfriends. One in eight women will suffer from breast cancer in her lifetime. One in four will experience domestic violence. Good luck finding that statistic on a yogurt lid this month.” She also proclaimed that the anti-domestic-violence movement staked its claim to October way back in 1981.
I agree with Smith, domestic violence awareness deserves as much attention as breast cancer awareness but it is impossible to promote it the way that the breast cancer awareness is promoted. The NCADV does not have the funds to do so. My heart goes out to all of those with breast cancer, who is suffering, who have survived it and who will be a victim as well. It saddens too that there are so many women getting physically, mentally, sexually and verbally abused every 5 seconds of every day and are unaware of all of the options out there.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports 1200 deaths and 2 million injuries to women from intimate partner violence each year in the U.S. On average, 3 women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends each day in this country. 15.5 million U.S. children live in families in which partner violence occurred at least once in the past year, and 7 million children live in families in which severe partner violence occurred.
This month is about awareness but it is also about celebration. It is about taking a moment to look back and remember that with every good day and every bad day, you’re still a survivor. You are still alive. Sadly, many victims did not make it. I am proud to say that I am a survivor. I was able to take the stand against the violence that I had endured by someone I loved at one time. I have shared my story and it has set me free. I want renew my fight against domestic violence. Together, we as survivors can eliminate domestic violence from homes even in our community. We need to ensure that our children grow up in healthy, peaceful home.
“According to the Children of Domestic Violence (CDV.org) website, approximately 275 million children experience domestic violence worldwide annually; of those, 5 million experience it in the United States each year and over 40 million adults in the United States grew up in homes where there was domestic violence.” Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police; therefore there are far greater numbers than what is shown.
Reflecting back to the first time I had truly told my story and spoken up was at the Clark County Courthouse October 28, 2009. There was an annual residents rally against domestic violence called “Take back the night,” I was chosen to be the guest speaker. I told my story about being a domestic violence victim for the first time. I received a standing ovation. I felt it set me free. “Since I have broken free and gained strength from my embarrassed silence I have begun sharing my story with pretty much everyone. I now know that the only way we can help and protect each other is through awareness. It is a big key piece.”
My audience was nearly 200 people in attendance at the rally, Including Public officials, Mayor Ed Burtner, Circuit Clerk Paula Joslin, District Judge Earl-Ray Neal and Clark County Attorney Brian Thomas as well as local law enforcement, just to name a few. At the time I was a 23-year-old single mother of three. I only identified myself as “Teresa,” because I was still very scared to let others know my full name. I tried to put my experience into words but often broke down in tears as I talked about the effect of my relationships had on me and my 8-year-old daughter.
I told the story of how I had walked away from my abuser for good on Nov. 11, 2007, living in different domestic violence shelters trying to put my life back together. I am here now six years later as a survivor. I have told my story to many, it has set me free, I want my story to encourage others and bring awareness to others here in our small community.
Bringing back horrific memories of several years ago, the thought of leaving scared me to death. Even though I was truly miserable for so long already, I kind of just chose to accept that was my life and dealt with it. I would always “cover it up” and make excuses. I thought if I stayed I would have a chance to fight back, but if I had left I couldn’t ever tell what was going to happen. It is like the saying, “Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.” Violence was all I had known in my relationships. Nobody really knew what I was going through. I kept silent. Abuse thrives in silence. Abusers isolate you and make you feel as if you have no other choice than to stay with them. I had to suffer alone, as many others do.
I said enough was enough and I had to seek help for the sake of my children. My abuser continued stalking me for the next couple of years. Those days eventually ended in 2009. I am a survivor and still alive today. I broke the cycle. I am free. I am a mother of 4 children and I finally married the man I’ve always dreamed and prayed for. I married my best friend; a man that I know would never hurt me or my children. I wouldn’t say I have a “perfect” life or marriage, but I do have true love, support, security and a loving father for all 4 of my children.
I didn’t think I’d ever make it this far, when I would sit and cry in spouse abuse shelters. Now I look back and say thank you Lord for the strength, knowledge, and blessings I have received to achieve my dreams. Things are still hard for all of us given abuse causes illnesses such as PTSD, Depression and other physical and mental illnesses. Domestic Violence can result with long term emotional scars. Abuse destroys people, families, and children; it does not just affect the victim.
All that have suffered abuse, we need to find the strength to stand up. I chose to leave, give up everything, go in hiding, and have no material things but the bare necessities and my children. It was very hard being so young, being alone; being broke, my kids resenting me, being scared for my life 24/7, not having any stability, my children and I with different health issues. These are all the things women are so scared to go through. I was too, but I did it. Today I realized leaving even in my fear and comfort of thinking that was going to be my norm was the best thing I could have done for my kids and self. I’m grateful to God that I had a new start.
It will be hard. You will feel lonely. You will be broke. You will be confused, but it is worth it in the end. You can gain anything back… But your life or the life of your family! I am still getting use to the words love and trust. I am still trying to break boundaries I have set for my own safety, as well as the safety of my children. I am still getting use to looking up when I walk. I am still getting use to going places alone. Every new day gets easier; you might take one step back but you have to remind yourself to step forward. I stabilized myself by finding a job, going back to school and even setting boundaries to gain independence with the guidance of God. I once gave up on him, but he never gives up on me. I hope that I inspire at least one person. Give them hope.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness among women and children in the U.S.  Without help, girls who witness domestic violence are more vulnerable to abuse as teens and adults. Also, without help, boys who witness domestic violence are far more likely to become abusers of their partners and/or children as adults, thus continuing the cycle of violence in the next generation. Domestic violence costs more than $37 billion a year in law enforcement involvement, legal work, medical and mental health treatment, and lost productivity at companies. This is why we should raise awareness! These are not just statistics they are real, they are facts. Witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. Those who experience domestic violence are more likely to participate in binge drinking, fighting and/or smoking, and are at an increased risk of suffering from mental illness.
You can also help by donations. Very rarely are their donations made to the domestic violence programs and shelters. It saddens me that people do not donate to this cause as much as others.  I have had to live in two shelters. The first time I lived in a spouse abuse shelter we didn’t have a stove. We all used a microwave for all meals. That is where I learned to cook eggs in a microwave. There were so many women and children piled in one huge room with bunks. We had one shower and had to take turns using it. With my daughter being so young, she hated it.
I want to encourage you to donate to this cause too. The shelters need food donations, clothes donations etc. Many women and kids had to pack up and leave with just the clothes they are wearing. They have to start all over with their entire life, if they do finally find the way out! I was a single mom with 2 kids and had to leave behind all I had worked so hard for on, not one, but two different occasions. We had nothing but what the shelter provided for us. My kids had to be in the hospital for a while and it was the shelter that made sure our needs were met and they got the medication they needed. Please support the fight against domestic violence and support those survivors, they have had to work hard and find the strength to leave. Now you can help them gain their stolen life back.
No matter how big or small, abuse is abuse and it is still an unspeakable crime. Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. There is help for both the victim and the perpetrator. You just have to make the choice to receive the help. If you or someone you know is in an abusive situation, there is hope. No one deserves to live with emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, 85% of domestic violence victims are women. Historically, females have most often been victimized by someone they knew. However, that does not mean men are not victims, there are men suffering from DV as well. You are not alone. If you feel that you are a perpetrator and you want to get help because you do love your partner, you need to before it is too late.

• Office of the Attorney General, Office of Victims Advocacy (800) 372-2551 or (502) 696-5312
• National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-SAFE (7233)
• Cabinet for Health and Family Services Abuse Hotline  (800) 752-6200
• Division of Child Abuse & Domestic Violence Services  (502) 564-9433
• Kentucky Domestic Violence Association (502) 209-5382 (for a listing of domestic violence shelters across the state)
• Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs (866) 375-2727 or (502) 226-2704

Never miss an opportunity to care

I'm just saying . . .  James Cook - Times Editor

I'm just saying . . . James Cook - Times Editor

I know it has been a few weeks since I have written a column and to be honest had it not been for another computer failure I probably would not have had time to write one this week. But while I wait for it to come back up (I hope) I wanted to get a few things off my chest and to honor a few people.
First I wanted to thank my wife for putting up with me for the past 17 years. Sometimes I feel sorry for you and I’m sure many of you do too. I mean really, it ain’t easy being married to me. But she has been there, through good and bad, all this time. Thanks Christina for being there and loving me. I need to say that more often (so do some of you to your spouses too.)
• A couple of weeks ago Tonja Puckett lost her battle with cancer. I have known Tonja since high school; she was a couple years older than me.
I got to see her hard work and determination as she played basketball for the Lady Pirates. Later I got to see it again as she played women’s softball. And even later I witnessed her determination as we worked together at the EZ Stop.
Tonia was not one to run from a tough situation or back down. She didn’t in her last battle either. Just this past spring I got to see her a few times at some of her daughter’s softball games. I can see a lot of her determination in her daughter as well.
Tonja and I may not have always seen eye-to-eye, strong willed people rarely do. But I believe we respected each other enough to realize that we both were going to do what we believed was right.
I will miss her jokes, I will miss her hard-headedness, but most importantly I will miss that smile and look of accomplishment when she completed a task or won. She was a true competitor and quite a special person. Rest easy Tonja, rest easy.
• Earlier last week we lost another person that not only was important to many of us, but probably scared us some too. At least he may have if you are over 35 and have a driver’s license.
Benny Bryant, the long time driver’s license examiner, passed away. He had a long and distinguished career. He was a state police officer, a detective and even a teacher. But his job as license examiner probably affected many of us.
I remember when I went for my driver’s test. He was stern and serious, he meant business. I was sweating bullets, he was cool and collected. Which in his occupation he had to have nerves of steel.
As I followed his every command and listened to his advice, and the tapping of his pencil on the rear-view mirror, I just knew I was going to fail. But I didn’t.
I was excited, he was still serious, but a little smile came across his face, just a little one.
“If I were you I wouldn’t get pulled over too much,” he said. “You don’t have a lot of points to lose. You passed.”
Benny was one of a kind and I believe he actually made our roads a little safer. His style back then, when we could get a license after having a permit 30 days, scared some of the wilder drivers into waiting a while.
Later in life he ran a shop in Slade and I visited up there a time or two. I usually missed him though. But I’m sure if he had seen me he probably would have reminded me to keep checking that mirror. He will be missed and remembered for years to come.
• Then last Friday as I was heading out of town I got the news about Fern Brewer, She had passed away in her sleep. Fern was one of a kind, the good kind.
I have known her since I was a teenager and I was umpiring Little League baseball. Her son and grandson were involved in the game back then. Her husband, Railroad John, and I would talk a little about the game.
But in recent years, after she had retired from a 28 year teaching career, I had the chance to really get to talk to her. You could find her in the summer and early fall underneath a tent selling vegetables, mums and pumpkins. Her smile was always there, infectious, as she withstood the heat all day long or the cool temperatures.
Occasionally she would come into our office. When she was there she would talk about how much she loved the paper and reading Sarah’s and my columns. We would thank her. Then she would ask about Sarah’s boys and of course my daughter and wife. She would talk about her kids, grandkids and how things were going in general.
Last Thursday she stopped in for a short spell. As she was ready to leave she didn’t seem to be as talkative, but she did tell me and our owner, Teresa Hatfield-Barger, how much she liked the paper.
I noticed that she seemed to be walking a little slower and asked if she was doing OK. She said yes and gave me that smile. If I had only known, maybe I would have taken the time to tell her how much we enjoyed hearing her compliments and seeing that smile. It brightened our days.
If only . . .
But that opportunity is gone. I will never be able to tell these three people how much I felt about them and respected them.
Don’t miss an opportunity. If you feel respect or love for anyone, let them know every time you see them. Life is short and time is shorter. Never miss an opportunity to pick up someone’s spirit or show them how important they are. You never know how that may make them feel and you never know if you’ll get that chance again.
I’m just saying . . .

Good news on county road dispute; getting down to business

By James Anderson, Powell County Judge Executive

The regular meeting of the Powell County Fiscal was held Tuesday, Sept. 10 with all members of the court being present.  The fifteen items on the agenda were discussed in just over an hours’ time.
Opening up the business portion there were three items that fell under old business.  The first of the three was a couple updates on the new animal shelter.  Last meeting there had been some discussion of some equipment needed and modifications made to address some things the architect had overlooked.  Most of these issues were in relation to the lack of exhaust fans and air flow.  The court was made aware the installation of new exhaust fans are nearly complete and looked as if they were going to adequately address the problems.
The second update in regards to the new animal shelter was an update on the efforts between Friends of Powell County Pets and the Powell Fiscal Court in reaching an agreement on a new management model for the new shelter.  We are looking into the possibility of having this group be able to manage the shelter itself which should allow our animal control officer to have more time to dedicate to enforcing our animal ordinances.  Currently he has to devote much of his time to the daily responsibilities that come with the shelter which limits the time he can dedicate to his other duties.  This agreement should also allow the public much more access to the shelter by adding additional staffing which will be at no additional cost to the county as it will be handled by F.O.P.C.P. ,  and should also allow for higher numbers of our animals to be placed into caring homes.  If we are successful in reaching this agreement it should be a positive for every person and animal and involved.
The county road issue with United States Forest Service was revisited as well.  This was done in order to bring the court up on some additional findings that support our case.  This information is in the form of a publication of Kentucky Road Surveys that was done as required by congress.  This book both in language and maps further prove the roads the USFS disregard as county roads were and are Powell County Roads.  Another thing that this books shows is that evidently our USFS ranger district not only has no regard for local or state laws but also chooses to ignore federal authority as well.  In light of all the information provided and in looking at ways to rectify the wrongs inflicted on us by USFS I shared with the magistrates a copy of KRS 178.115.  I asked them to read over as I may potentially ask for a vote in the next month or so to pass a resolution to reopen some of the roads closed by the USFS.
The final subject to come up in old business was discussion on what steps we still needed to take to wrap up the redistricting matter.  Most of this work had been completed in the first two thirds of 2011 and had then been hold and until the State had something finalized.  Now that that’s been completed we are able to complete our process.  There was some discussion on what all had been completed and what still needed done.  We hope to have everything finalized in next few weeks.
To open up the new business portion I read a proclamation proclaiming Sept. 17-23, 2013 as Constitution Week in order to reaffirm the ideals the Framers of the Constitution had in 1787.  I think this is also an appropriate time to thank and remember all of our service men and women who have since served to protect us and our constitution.  I would also ask that each of us remember our leaders and U.S.A. in their prayers daily and to thank God for the blessing of living in such a wonderful country.
Next, Coroner Hondo Hearne came before the court to present the Powell County Mass Fatality incident Plan.  This is a plan that lays out what and how we would handle a mass casualty incident within our boundaries.  We hope this is something we will never have to deal with but feel confident that with Mr. Hearne and this plan, we would be able to handle it.  This plan was voted on and accepted by the court.
An additional part time employee was the next item addressed.  Last month I had made the court aware of the increased need for some additional staffing at transfer station as recycling had increased significantly and would continue to do so as we work to convert the old animal shelter into a recycling center that will enable us to take many more items.  The court voted to approve this part time employee.  The excess in recycling receipts has allowed us to add this employee at no additional expense to the tax payers.
The next four items pertained to resolutions and agreements allowing me to handle paper work that will be coming through to provide funding for projects.  These projects will be for road work, additional projects in the Nada area to renovate homes and one to upgrade our radio tower equipment that is near thirty years old.
The court also had two more tax rates at this meeting.  The first was the acknowledgement of receipt of the Powell County Health Department.  Next the court voted to accept the compensating rate for the county tax rate which will be 10.1.
To close out the meeting the court acknowledged the Powell County Tourism Board’s audit and voted to approve Ambulance Director Brinton Epperson’s employee changes.
I would like to again thank each of you for taking the time to keep up with what’s going on with your local government and encourage anyone who has questions, concerns or ideas to feel welcome to contact me at any time.

Bringing Congress to the Bluegrass to hear cost of Obamacare

By Congressman Andy Barr

As the U.S. House of Representatives prepared to vote on Obamacare in March of 2010, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “[w]e have to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it.”
Now, almost three and a half years later, Kentucky’s working families are still trying to understand this 2,700-page law, but they are already beginning to feel its devastating effects.  Sold as a means of improving access to health care while reducing its costs, Obamacare has done precisely the opposite, while continuing to destroy jobs and increase our federal budget deficit.
While Ms. Pelosi’s statement speaks volumes regarding why it’s necessary to fully repeal Obamacare before we can achieve genuine and lasting health care reform.  Obamacare arose from a “Washington knows best” mentality, which believes that “top down,” federally imposed solutions are the only answer for our nation’s challenges – and it shows what happens when legislators and bureaucrats become enamored with their own grand schemes without asking for input from the people who will endure the consequences.
That’s why I believed it was so important to bring the House subcommittee responsible for investigating Obamacare’s impact to Kentucky.  Congressman Phil Roe, M.D. (TN-01), Chairman of the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee of the Education and Workforce Committee, held an official field hearing in Lexington to examine the health care challenges facing workers and employers in the Bluegrass State. I was glad to bring this official hearing to the Sixth District as part of my accessibility initiative.
Fellow Kentucky Congressmen Brett Guthrie and John Yarmuth also attended the hearing where Kentuckians described the harmful consequences Obamacare is imposing on workplaces.  The Subcommittee heard from regional small business leaders, health care advocates, and other citizens – hopefully returning to Washington with a better sense of the challenges and imperatives ahead.
Lexington’s Joe Bologna highlighted the uncertainty that Obamacare has created for small business owners like him, who are already doing everything they can to provide affordable health care coverage for their employees.  John Humkey, President and Founder of Employee Benefit Associates, observed that Obamacare is leading to “significant premium increases that will force employers in Kentucky” and elsewhere “to radically change the way they provide benefits to their employees or in extreme cases . . . drop health insurance altogether.”
John McPhearson, who serves as Chief Executive Officer for Lectrodryer in Richmond, testified that Obamacare arbitrarily picks “winners and losers,” with some citizens having to pay for the health care of others without regard to healthy lifestyle choices or other conduct that impacts health care costs.  Mr. McPhearson also warned that Obamacare’s mandated health care plans could become “the de facto plans offered by the health care [insurance] companies,” causing “overall coverage [to] deteriorate” for Lectrodryer’s employees.
The evidence from across America shows that the concerns expressed during our hearing are not unique.  Confronted with new costs and regulations they cannot afford in a fragile economy, our nation’s small businesses have put any plans to expand and hire new workers indefinitely on hold, while cutting the hours and pay of current employees to avoid the expensive coverage requirements which Obamacare places on employers having 50 or more full-time employees.
Had Obamacare’s authors consulted people like Joe Bologna, John Humkey, and John McPhearson, they would have realized that putting people out of work is no way to improve access to health care in Kentucky.  What happens to those who fall between the cracks – people who lose their jobs, but aren’t eligible for the federal subsidies, which are supposed to help them buy health insurance?  They pay a tax!
We heard testimony during our hearing about the obstacles Kentuckians endure in obtaining quality health care.  Whether these problems arise from a preexisting condition or a family’s inability to afford insurance, we have a moral duty to fix them.  Yet, we can do so most effectively by engaging the feedback of consumers, doctors, employers, insurance experts, and hospital administrators instead of relying on ideological theories.  This approach involves incremental and systematic change instead of a massive overhaul – but doesn’t it make sense to build upon what works instead of breaking our health care system altogether?
Common sense measures such as authorizing insurance providers to compete across state lines and allowing small businesses to form association health plans could significantly decrease premiums, while supplementing tax break for employer-provided health insurance with supplemental individual and family tax credits would make that insurance more affordable.  Medical liability reform and the expansion of Medical Savings Accounts would help bring spiraling health care costs under control; the latter by placing patients back in charge of their non-catastrophic health care bills.
You deserve a chance to participate in health care reform, instead of having to “find out what’s in it” after the fact.