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Guest Editorial

Remember Our Military

By Glenn Mollette

One of my sons recently came home from a twelve month military deployment. My wife and I took a couple of days and flew to welcome him at his stateside arrival airport. We watched soldier after soldier pick up his or her duffel bags and other luggage in baggage claims. We didn’t see families or friends hugging them and welcoming them home. My son turned the corner and came into the area and I was so delighted to see him. For the first time in one year I heard his voice and hugged him. I’m sure I was missing something. Surely there was another area where spouses, family or others were located in waiting to greet these wonderful military men and women. However, I didn’t see them. I felt like my wife and I were the only two people in waiting to welcome a family member.
I wonder if we are missing something altogether in this nation. Do we take for granted all that we still have in America? In Colorado Americans are free to smoke pot. In many of our states we are free to gamble our money away if we choose. We are free to chose the religion of our choice. In Kentucky we can choose Bourbon Whiskey or from any number of multiplying vineyards. Gay and Lesbians can find a way to legally bond somewhere in America. Street Preachers in America can still cry out the gospel. States are crying for people to start businesses. All in all in America you can do most anything you want to do. America doesn’t ask a whole lot of us. We have to pay some taxes. We aren’t allowed to hurt people. We have a few rules to obey. We are to obey the driving laws and that’s about it.
Soldiers are called upon to lay down their lives. We do pay them. However, most of our service people make very low wages their first few years. I realize they have some benefits but we are asking them to fight to help protect us and maintain our American way of life.
This weekend or any weekend say thank you to a Veteran or to a passing soldier. They appreciate being appreciated. Remember those who gave their lives for us in war. Without their sacrifice America would have been a thing of the past a long time ago. 
  
- Glenn Mollette is an American columnist and is read in all fifty states. He is the author of eleven books. This column does not necessarily reflect the view of any organization, institution or this paper or media source. Like his facebook page at  https://www.facebook.com/GlennMollette  


Darts and Laurels

A laurel to all area police officers who where honored last week during National Police Week. We praise you for your dedication to keeping our communities safe. Thank you.

A dart to our state legislators. We agree with Johnson County Judge Executive Tucker Daniel, by dragging their feet in legislative session to pass a bill that stabilized the motor fuel tax and Johnson County now losing another $100,000 in road aid funds.

A laurel to Sallee Holbrook, our county court clerk, for publishing the sample ballot to yesterday’s primary election. We hope you exercised your civic right to vote; don’t complain if you didn’t.

A dart to Mother Nature by dumping rain on this year’s Spring Fling. Sunny skies would have been preferred to showcase all the hard work and planning that went into this yearly event.

A laurel to McDonald’s for helping families in need by providing the Ronald McDonald House Charities. A recent donation of $97,000 will go a long way helping these families during difficult times.


Guest Editorial

Future of higher education relies on responsible decision-making

The Kentucky Standard

As Kentucky’s state universities and community colleges continue to experience sharp funding cuts and students feel the pain of annual tuition hikes, it’s hard to hear the administrators’ cries for state legislators to restore public funding with the recent examples of what is considered by some as lavish and unnecessary spending on their top executives.
For instance, former Kentucky Community and Technical College System President Michael McCall retired in January, but is set to receive $324,000 a year in consulting fees as president emeritus. Part of those duties include working with current President Dr. Jay Box in developing the McCall Leadership Academy for system employees.
It is widely accepted that McCall did a good job during his 16-year tenure with the KCTC System by leading the newly created community college system that merged the University of Kentucky’s 14 community colleges and the state’s vocational and technical schools.
Throughout his term, enrollment doubled and the organization worked hard to develop educational programs to meet the needs of individual communities and industries. Our 16 current state-funded community and technical colleges have had huge impacts on the improvement of Kentucky’s livelihood.
For all this work, McCall was paid well. He was at times the highest paid community college system president in the United States. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, McCall made about $328,325 a year in base pay, plus numerous bonuses, and he received a $90,000-a-year housing allowance and $43,000 a year for a car.
And even after retirement, he’s still reaping the benefits while KCTCS struggles to find money for even the smallest of faculty and staff raises and scholarship opportunities for students decline. No other public colleges in Kentucky pay their former presidents for emeritus consulting.
That agreement has led to at least two faculty senates, at Jefferson Community and Technical College in Louisville and Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lexington, to pass resolutions calling McCall’s golden parachute “fiscally irresponsible.” Especially in light of the $38 million the system has lost in state funding since 2008.
Couple that with the recent media reports that University of Louisville top executives, including President Dr. James Ramsey, are earning high-end bonuses and perks in the millions, and the public’s trust in higher education officials and its boards are starting to wane. While U of L officials argue that those funds come from private donations to the university, those funds could have been used for other investments, such as student scholarships or additional faculty.
Many agree that the state legislature needs to restore critical funding to Kentucky’s higher education institutions as the state tries to keep college affordable and attainable. Tuition hikes by as much as 45 percent at some schools over the last six years and declining scholarship opportunities have made the quest for college more difficult for Kentucky families.
But accountability needs to also be put in place with restored higher education funding. If these public universities and colleges are receiving public taxpayer funds, they should be held accountable for their spending as well.
Responsible spending and accountability needs to be as much a part of the discussion in Frankfort as restored funding for the future of higher education.


Darts and Laurels

A laurel to college bound seniors for choosing higher education as a path to success — good luck!

A dart to police involved collisions — bad enough without minimizing it.

A laurel to the Paintsville Utilities Commission for stepping up to the plate of responsibility — others can learn from your example!

A dart to allowing electioneering closer to polls — why?

A laurel to older Americans and their many contributions to society!


Guest Editorial

Kentucky benefits from travel and tourism

Bob Stewart
Secretary, Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet
 
The first week of May is “National Travel and Tourism Week” and will be observed this year from May 2-10. This annual observance was established by a congressional resolution in 1983 and first celebrated the following year.
“Travel and Tourism Week” also coincides with the time of year that most of us begin planning how to enjoy the warmer spring and summer months as we enter the busy summer travel season. It’s only appropriate, then, that May would be the time to salute the travel industry and champion the power of the hospitality industry, both here in Kentucky and nationally.
And this industry is powerful indeed. Nationally, the direct spending on leisure travel alone (excluding all business travel) by both domestic and international travelers totaled $644.9 billion, according to the U.S. Travel Association. This spending by travelers generated over $96 billion in tax revenue, and the report noted that U.S. residents logged 1.7 billion person-trips for leisure in 2014.
In Kentucky, the direct spending by travelers in 2014 totaled $8.3 billion in Kentucky, an increase of 4.4% over 2013, one of the largest increases ever.  The overall economic impact of the tourism industry in 2014, including both direct and indirect expenditures, was $13.1 billion, which generated $1.37 billion in state and local tax revenues and $2.9 billion in wages paid to Kentucky workers.
Tourism is vital to the economic vitality of Kentucky as it is the nation. This is an industry that employs over 179,000 in the Commonwealth alone, and these jobs range from front-line workers (such as waiters and hotel desk clerks) to highly trained and skilled professionals such as marketers, communications specialists, chefs and hotel general managers.
It is a great industry, which contributes mightily to our economy and significantly impacts the quality of life we enjoy right here in Kentucky.
Any community with a thriving tourism industry is also a community that people enjoy living and working in.  A community that attracts visitors also boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene and carefully protects and promotes its history and heritage.
This is what draws visitors and residents to the historic downtowns throughout Kentucky.  These are the places where people want to visit and the communities where people want to live, work and raise their families.
The tourism appeal of a place is directly linked to the art, culture, history and architecture of that place, which offers plenty to experience that is unique and authentic to that location.  That’s what makes a successful tourism destination, and we are blessed with many such destinations from one end of Kentucky to the other.
I hope every Kentuckian will take a moment during “National Travel and Tourism Week” to be mindful of the importance of tourism on our economy, and to also be grateful for all the outstanding places we have to see and things we have to enjoy in this Commonwealth.
Better yet, I urge my fellow Kentuckians to pick a place in Kentucky that you have not yet visited and do so this year.  Kentucky is blessed with so much natural beauty and interesting places – make this the year you experience that one destination right here in the Commonwealth that has always intrigued you.
Check out www.kentuckytourism.com to plan your 2015 Kentucky summer adventure – I am confident you’ll find the perfect leisure getaway right here at home!




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