Darts & Laurels
A laurel to Sundy Best for holding a benefit concert last Wednesday on Johnson Central High Schoool’s campus. With the concert and telethon, over $50,000 was raised to help the flood victims of Johnson County.
A dart to unscrupulous people who are trying to collect money from someone else’s tragedy.
A laurel to Operation School Shoe who was able to provide over 1,200 local children with new shoes.
A dart to people who continue to abuse people and animals. We hope you get the book thrown at you.
A laurel to the continuation of donations rolling into Johnson County. We hope supplies, money and spirit of goodwill will lift up the people who are dealing with this recent tragedy.
Reflections of a young reporter
By Sarah Hill
I’m going to write to you today, not as an official representative of the paper, but just as a regular person.
I have not been a reporter for very long. I am not battle hardened, or accustomed to pushing my way through a line of cameras and microphones, or shoving my way into the faces of officials. But I’m doing the best I can for you right now. I’ll get better with practice.
The devastation Johnson County has seen in the last two week has been, in many ways, unspeakable for me. How do you properly honor the lives and families of those who have been lost before press time? Words are not enough. How do you tell the stories of little boys who were frightened and clinging on to a tree for dear life with care? What do you ask a mother who lost the beds where her children slept?
I’ve had a bit of a bird’s eye view this week of all that our neighbors have gone through and all the efforts that have been made to help them. I traveled with a media caravan and police escort up Rt. 172 to capture images of the devastation. I spoke to people whose homes were completely destroyed and who were able to show hope and feel safe in the knowledge that their community would be there for them. I saw National Guardsmen carrying picks and walking into the wreckage. I’ve listened on our scanner to the rescue crews from Johnson, Greenup, and Floyd counties coordinate with each other and work together to manage the recovery efforts. I watched the Lieutenant Governor leave from the Johnson Central football field in a black hawk helicopter. How do you say thank you to them so they will know you see them and respect them and care for them because they have cared for us in return? How do you honor their work and their stories?
I fielded a call from a distraught woman in Colorado who couldn’t get in touch with her family. I fielded a call from the owner of a chain of convenience stores who wanted to give what he was able to. I directed them both the best way I could and felt their emotions with them.
How should I capture all the acts of heroism and kindness that have taken place? What do you say to a 15-year-old kid who has lost everything he had, but works a 12 hour day to help others? “Good job. We’re proud of you,” just isn’t enough.
I’ve drawn strength from the older members of the community, people who have lived through this and other disasters, the 2012 tornadoes, the 1957 flood. What I see in them is a kind of grace and sureness that “things will be alright” that must come with a level of life experience that is, as yet, unknown to me.
What I do know is that my job, as one reporter, is to provide all the facts and information I can to you as we walk through history together. My job as a person is to tell you that I wish we could have a parade down US 23 to honor everyone for their courage, kindness, and sympathies.
Darts and Laurels
A laurel to first responders, volunteers, utliity workers for trying so hard to restore order to the Flat Gap area after the recent catastrophic flooding.
A dart to vandals breaking into vehicles in neighborhoods around Johnson County. Your petty crimes won’t be worth the jail time.
A laurel to compassionate people in the United States that are sending their hard-earned money and purchased supplies into the area to help the flood victims.
A dart to “Shake and Bake” meth labs and to the people who think nothing of the safety to themselves or surrounding neighbors. The recent meth lab explosion in an apartment could have been more devastating than it was.
A laurel to Big Sandy Community and Technical College and WSIP radio station for their recent radiothon that was held this past Saturday. It is reported to have raised $60,000 to go Johnson County Long-Term Recovery Fund to help flood victims. This event was also sponsored by Appalachian Wireless, Southeast Chamber of Commerce, Paintsville/Johnson County Chamber of Commerce and Floyd County Chamber of Commerce.
A community united
Our community has been devastated with the recent flash-flooding in the area. Many of our friends and neighbors have found themselves without a home, treasured family momentos are gone, and faces of our fellow community members who cannot be replaced are missing. We mourn all of these losses and will continue to feel them for a very long time. But through all this devastation we have learned what strength it is to be a community united.
To get through such an overwhelming time we show strength of character when we put aside differences and help each other out. We are no longer separate entities going about our own days. We are one, we are Johnson County. All you have to do is look at the work that has already begun to see the type of community we live and work in.
Many in our community are already lending hands to help clean up the destruction Mother Nature has left behind and to help get supplies to those in need. Businesses are opening their doors to make the lives of those hit hardest a little easier to handle. And we are receiving an outpouring of kindness from those who might not be able to physically help but are donating what they can to help homeowners shoulder the costs of rebuilding.
A special recognition must be made to the Johnson County School system, who not only have opened their doors to help with organization of the many donations pouring in, but whose students can be seen working tirelessly to help unload trucks and organize supplies. Even elementary age students are carrying what they are able.
We must also recognize the law enforcement officers and emergency crews who have worked around the clock in rescue and recovery efforts. Also, the utilities workers who have been working to restore power and water to the area.
As Vince Lombardi once said, “the measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.” Johnson Countians sure are measuring up.
Thank you to everyone who is helping restore our beautiful county.
Darts and Laurels
A laurel to Paintsville High School’s Whitley Bartley for competing for the title of America’s Homecoming Queen.
A dart to motions filed to dismiss wrongful death lawsuits involving Eric C. Conn.
A laurel to the recovery of Johnson County Sheriff Deputy John Dale after his crash on the Mountain Parkway.
A dart to recent flooding all over Johnson County.
A laurel to Rotarians for their dedication for the eradication of polio.