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Education and Common Sense
My letter to Medicare

I have had two knee replacements, two cataract surgeries, and various other ailments, including Mysathenia Gravis since I turned sixty-five and got plugged in to Medicare. I have been happy so far with the coverage I have received and have been happy to pay the modest co-payments that I paid for very competent medical service.
This week I got a disturbing letter from Medicare and I think my answer to it will explain why I am disturbed. I sent the following letter to the address they gave me to file a complaint:
To Whom it May Concern:
I am an 89-year-old woman who lived in Paintsville, Kentucky, for sixty years. I became seriously ill in 2010, and moved to a retirement community in Louisville to be near my daughter.
My family and I were on vacation last July at a location near Paintsville when my right knee, which had been fitted with a prosthesis fifteen years before, suddenly swelled up, and I was unable to walk on it.
Fortunately, I had my former primary care physician’s cell telephone number in my address book. He had given it to me several years ago when I was very ill, and he wanted me to be able to contact him immediately, if necessary. I had never called the number, and I did not know if it was still a working number.
I called Dr. Jason Rice, and he answered! He agreed to see me. He looked at my knee and said my trouble could be “Water on the Knee,” the prosthesis could have malfunctioned, or I could have a blood clot. He sent me across the street to Paul B. Hall Medical Center, to have x-rays of my knee to see if the artificial knee was OK, and ran a test to see if I had a blood clot. I was pleased that they performed and read the tests immediately.
I have had notification from Humana Insurance and Medicare that those tests were not approved. (It turned out that all the tests were negative. It was “Water on the Knee.” )
Dr. Rice prescribed a $56.00 tube of ointment that took the swelling down immediately, and I have not had any more trouble. However, If I had had a blood clot, I could have died, and Dr. Rice knew that.
I got a notice from Medicare yesterday that none of the four tests had been approved and that I may be billed $3,124.62!
I had previously received a bill for the radiologist’s professional fees of $36.00, which I paid on September 7, 2014.
As yet, I have not received a record that Dr. Rice, who is a long-time friend, has submitted a bill.
There has been no explanation as to why these claims were not approved. I have heard that claims are not approved by Medicare unless they are submitted by the patient’s primary physician.  Dr. Rice was my primary physician for many more years than my present primary physician, who was 185 miles away when I needed care.
Please, see what you can do! I am on a fixed income and I cannot AFFORD a $3,124.62 medical bill!
Yours very truly,
June. B Rice
( I am sure this story is To Be Continued...)


Downhomer
Blessings Old and New and Blessings Unexpected

It isn’t often that I miss services at my home church. Nonetheless, on Sunday a couple of weeks ago, I told everyone at Hammond that I would not be there for the September 14 service. Of course, everyone understood when I explained that my precious grandchildren, Tyler and Amanda Marie Fannin Webb would be baptized that day at the church where they both were saved, the two of them confessing jointly as well as individually that the Lord Jesus Christ was their personal Savior.
I myself never had occasion to be in that church Mandy and Tyler were attending. It did feel a little strange to be a visitor there and not the fixture I feel myself to be at Hammond. Even so, with daughters Grace and Deb, Walter and I did enjoy the drive out Rt. 201 to the turn off that took us to the Flat Gap Baptist Church.
On that road, as you leave the more suburban neighborhood for the rural one, you will see lots of rolling farm country, my favorite kind of area. And I have to say some of the up and downs curving and winding of the road leading to the Flat Gap Church reminded me of the drive that goes down into Hammond.
Once we got where we were going that day, as we stepped onto the porch of the church where we had never before been, Rev. Harold Salyers came forward to shake our hands in welcome.
With pleasure then, I realized that I knew him, counting him as an old friend not seen for a while, but still remembered. What’s more, when we entered the church, the same spirit prevalent at Hammond was obviously also present there.
In addition, the congregation was very friendly to us, went out of their way to make us feel welcome. And it goes without saying that I cried my eyes out and thanked the Lord with my whole heart for the blessing of being able to see my dear ones being baptized.
Now it is another week, one that starts out with unusually cool temperatures. The sun shining down on our patch of countryside has a filtered look, as if it comes down to us on a slant, our passage around the sun already moving into a winter positioning.
I am never ready when this happens, and where did autumn go. What about Indian summer? Do we really now have only two seasons, this being winter and summer?
It does seem that spring and fall passes us so quickly we hardly even notice when they appear, and never know when time makes the shift from one to the other. All of us go by our own individual impressions, and judging by the way the air feels today, I myself would say it might be time to unpack the electric blankets.
However, maybe by tomorrow the temperatures could rebound, so that we’d again be able to sleep with just a scant amount of covering, and gratefully, have the windows open to the sounds of the night.
Also, in a weather pattern that has taken some getting used to, one thing the recent rains have done is that delicious looking mushrooms are popping up everywhere. I love seeing them, but would hesitate to gather them, it being so easy to get a poisonous one.
I would be like one bad apple in a batch of good ones ruining the whole barrel; just one bite of a bad mushroom in a gathering of good ones can be enough to kill. So it pays to be careful, in most cases to look, but if in doubt; to turn away.
The Bible says that “There is a way that seemeth right to a man, but the end thereof is destruction.” Like wild mushrooms, many things in this world look good, but the side effect can be deadly.
And if in carelessness we sow the wind, will we not inevitably reap the whirlwind.
Bottom line; I am blessed when I see those who like my grandchildren have the good sense to avail themselves of the lifeboat.


Poison Oak
Clyde Pack


The real way to bake a
potato


Just about every time we eat fast food, Wilma Jean ends up ordering a baked potato. I’ll get one occasionally, but it’s pretty obvious that she likes them a lot better than I do. That’s a bit surprising in a way because baked potatoes were very much a part of my life in my formative years.
 It all goes back to those late fall days when it would still be hot enough for us to go without a jacket or sweater, but once the sun went down, within half an hour or so it’d be downright cold. 
Sometimes that posed a problem. Although it was dark already, it was still way too early for a self-respecting coal-camp kid to call it a day. So in order to kill enough time to be respectable whenever we did go home, once in a while one of the things we did in a case like that was search around for an old crosstie to burn, and after finding a good spot a safe distance from the houses in the neighborhood, we’d build a bonfire and “bake some taters.” 
Those readers who might not have ever experienced a 1940s “tater bakin’,” need to understand here and now that a baked potato then resembled in no form or fashion a baked potato now, especially one of those fancy ones like the little red-headed girl sells in her restaurant.
The good thing about crossties was that they were creosoted. For the benefit of the creosote-challenged, creosote is an oily liquid obtained by distilling coal tar, and crossties were soaked in creosote to help preserve them. (I just looked that up. At the time I was baking potatoes, I wouldn’t have known a bucket of creosote from a keg of nails.) Best of all, though, creosote made them highly flammable and, if the wind wasn’t blowing,  you could start a fire on a crosstie with just one kitchen match.
Once we’d get the fire going good, we’d toss in eight or ten good-size potatoes. Everybody in the neighborhood who raised a garden had plenty of potatoes so the supply was pretty much inexhaustible.
 After ten minutes or so, we’d start digging them out. Sometimes, they’d be burned to a crisp with not enough potato left to fool with. If we were lucky, however, after letting it cool, we’d peel away about a quarter-inch of ash, and find the potato a delicious treat. No salt, cheese nor sour cream: just potato. 
After the night would swallow the tiny sparks left from the smoldering fire, one of us would kick some dirt over it. In a chorus of “see ya later,” we’d walk from what was left of the warmth , fade into the blackness of the crisp autumn night, and head for the house. 
Anyway, while Wilma Jean’s potato always looks delicious, and she does seem to enjoy it, I guess I was always used to mine being a little more thoroughly baked.


Smile Awhile
Sara Blair

A college degree or bust

This isn’t something I’m proud to admit, but I don’t have a college degree.  I’m not ashamed of it, but I’m not proud of it either.  I have to admit that I’ve often wondered if life would have been better for me if I’d had a degree.  After years of standing in line at the grocery store for hours while women who carry Michael Kors purses and drive Cadillac Escalades  (because those educated elitists get upgraded to the Express aisle and have bag boys carrying their groceries for them), I conclude  that a college degree would have served me well.  Or, at least, that’s how I perceive it.
While most of my friends were sitting in their college classes getting an education, I was rushing home from work to fix supper and catch a little bit of “Wheel of Fortune” while I washed the dinner dishes.  But unbeknownst to those snooty collegiates, I was having all that “fun” being able to sleep “legitimately” with my husband.  Yes, folks, I was one of those women who thought it was best to “save yourself for marriage” so I got married at 16 while my peers got college degrees.
But thanks to electronic technology, I can now get a degree in “Life Experience” by going online and paying an unknown college $199 a month.  I think that’s fantastic.  And for a couple of hundred dollars more I can get a Masters.  If I have enough money and time I can even get my doctorate,  but at my age that would be “pushing it”.  (But Doctor in front of my name might get me an upgrade on Carnival cruises).
When I try to think what profession would be best suited to my skills, I usually think that marriage counseling would be my best bet.  After all, I’ve done it several times with semi-good results.  And if anybody knows how to manipulate a man, I do. 
For instance, when you tell your husband you want a new living room suite and he says, “Have you lost your mind?  We already have a living room suite !”  All you have to do is give him the “silent treatment”.  Admittedly, this only works early on in a marriage when you don’t speak to him for a couple of days and you forgo, let us say, “favors”.  After 20 years of marital bliss the “silent treatment” doesn’t faze them.  They just go to the fridge, fix a bologna sandwich and a beer, and watch a football game.  Yes, later on, the only way to get a new living room suite is leave for a month.  When you return and have to call in the exterminator and wear Hazmat garb for several days, he’ll give in. 
And since I know so much about marriage, I can tell you that if you want your husband to take out the garbage all you have to do is say that you lost $50 and you left it on the trash compactor.  He will go through all the garbage, re-bag it, and then take it outside to get the stench out.  Men are really easy as long as you remember that they like food, sports, cars, and sex (usually in that order).  Clean underwear is optional.
But if I had gotten a college degree years ago, I would never have learned all these things and getting a “Life Experience” diploma might be harder to achieve.  But I would love to have a certificate hanging on the wall next to my wedding portrait and my Kentucky Colonel sheepskin that has my first married name on it.  I would be in Hog Heaven for sure.  In fact, a degree might put me in the category for being a “Good Ole Johnson County Girl” that I have yet to receive for all my accomplishments.  (Right here is where if I was on Facebook I would insert a “laughing out loud icon”).
So, folks, if you’re like me and don’t have a degree, there’s still hope.  Just think of something you’re proficient at and go on-line for your “Life Experience” sheepskin.  Let’s all throw our mortarboards in the air.
Have a great week and don’t forget to Smile Awhile!


Education and Common Sense
Standing in the need of Prayer

“Not my brother, not my sister, but it’s me, Oh Lord
Standing in the need of prayer!
“It’s me, it’s me, Oh Lord,
“Standing in the need of prayer!”
The hymn goes on to list the fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, pastors and deacons, strangers and neighbors who are not the main ones who are standing in the need of prayer.
I listen to the news and hear about groups running Christians out of their homes, beheading children while their parents watch, leaving whole groups of people who do not worship the god that they worship out in the desert with no food and shelter, and I think: the whole world is standing in the need of prayer!
We are inclined to blame our leaders for not doing anything to prevent this sorry state of world affairs, but it seems that the more we have tried to help, the worse the situation grows.
Our Bible lessons in Sunday School last quarter were in Ezekiel and Daniel, written during the time the Children of Israel had been taken captive by a heathen nation, Babylon, after the Jews had forgotten the God who had brought them out of Egypt and given them a land to live in. They had worshipped idols and had ignored the Ten Commandments God had given to Moses on that mountaintop as they travelled. In punishment for their turning away from Him, God had let the Babylonians conquer the nation, and many were taken there and stayed 70 years.
All the time I was teaching those lessons, I was wondering how long God was going to let our nation grow farther and farther away from Him. I wondered if He might allow an even more heathen nation to conquer our land.
I think we in the United States need to remember that our nation was started by people who were worshippers of God. They came and prayed and  God’s Providential Hand has been on our country for over three hundred years. We have not established any religion, but have encouraged each person to worship God according to his own conscience.
We have developed into the greatest country in the world, and we have gone and helped other countries without being their conquerers. We have lost many of our precious sons and daughters fighting for what we thought was right.
Now we owe more money than we can ever get paid, and it seems that the only people that can be made fun of in our country of are the Christians.
I read in something last week that we need to pray for the persecuted Christians currently run out of their homes. We need to pray for their PROTECTION, PROVISION, and PERSEVERANCE. They, and we, when we let the heathen overcome us, need God’s deliverance, His  supplying of our bread and shelter, and our own steadfast determination to hold fast to our Christian faith.
It’s me and the President, and the Congress, and the WHOLE WORLD that are “Standing in the need of prayer!”



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