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Education and Common Sense
Andrew Michael Rice: Graduate 2015

People who regularly read this column know that my favorite saying is, “When you become a grandparent, your brain turns to mush.” This column is about one of my favorite grandchildren - they are all my favorites!- Andrew Michael, aka Drew, who is Steve’s son.
Cathy, Patti and I travelled to northern Virginia this week to watch Drew, along with 593 others, walk across the stage at George Mason University’s Patriot Center to receive his high school diploma from Centerville High School. In addition, we heard him play trumpet as the senior band members joined the rest of the band playing, America the Beautiful. (As usual, the program went downhill as soon as Drew’s part was over.)
Drew has furnished me with several subjects for columns over the years so the friends who read this missive weekly will be glad to hear of his latest milestone.
Drew has grown into a young man who is almost the size and build of his grandpa Harold Rice. He also has his granddaddy’s interest in building things. I was impressed with a box that he made as a gift for Steve. It looked so very much like the things his Grandpa Harold had made in high school. He also built a box that fits his truck to hold his tools.
For the last year, he has been driving his truck to another school to study carpentry. He has also driven his truck to work at Creighton Farms golf course on week-ends. On Monday the day before graduation, he started a job with a construction company making several dollars an hour over minimum wage. He worked 9-1/2 hours, wearing an orange vest, actually doing construction work.
He shared with me that he plans to continue working at both jobs in the fall while he attends a local community college. Then he hopes to transfer to an out-of-state four-year college next year.
He is well-spoken, meets people easily, does not have any bad habits that his mush-brained grandmother has discovered, and seems to have his head on straight.
I will be praying that Andrew Michael will continue his excellent work ethic and continue to be the kind of young man his grandmother believes him to be.


Downhomer
In the midst of death, there is life

In all the years I lived in the north, I can only remember attending one funeral. Probably that was because in those various places where life took me, I functioned, albeit subconsciously, as a sojourner, a displaced person, a Kentuckian living away from the place that would always and forever be my earthly home.
It was only while we were living on a farm in Michigan that I developed a feeling of personal attachment, of being part of a place and the people that we lived among. I made some very good friends in those years. Most importantly, I made the best of all possible friends, the Lord Jesus Christ, who became my personal Savior.
It was while we were still at the farm that I went to a funeral; that of a neighbor’s daughter and her husband, both of them killed in a car wreck. I remember it as being very restrained, a quiet, though anguish-filled visitation.
Southern funerals are something else. If I am to judge by those I’ve attended, I would say they are never quiet; subdued perhaps, but never exactly quiet. Even with that mind numbing grief filling the air of such a gathering, there is very little of the sitting hushed and withdrawn.
Perhaps this is because of the togetherness that is an integral part of southern families. This is apparent by the way we gather in, as much to support those left behind, as it is to say goodbye to the one who has made the journey we must all make some day.
There’s always such a pouring in of support in a southern funeral. We go, saying without ever speaking a word that we are there for those who are going though such heartache. We share the tears; we say how good that one looks. Then when the heart cannot seem to hold any more sorrow, we instinctively turn to each other, in a reflexive kind of coping. We begin to speak of old memories, reliving in this way some of the good days, as if that one we are viewing was right there with us. Now and then, there is even the sound of laughter in the room, as one or another of us recalls some special thing, some amusing thing that we shared with the one whose life we celebrate. This time we came for our own Mildred Wells. Remembering her, we were also there to support her husband Cleo Wells and the rest of her immediate family. We circle in as the wagons used to do during an Indian attack in pioneer days. For there is strength in our numbers, and this becomes just one of the things we do to help us to make it through.
There have been many words spoken to explain and make sense of the grief process. But what use are words, what benefit our compassion. How can anyone understand another’s grief, how to predict the way someone other than ourselves may react to the loss of a loved one, that thus and thus it will be. In truth, no one can ever know another’s person’s sorrow, for it is always an individual and very personal reaction.
I have heard an old saying that; “In the midst of life there is death.” I think this is wrong. I think that saying should be turned around, should say; “In the midst of death, there is life.”
Once there were eight Branham sisters. Now there are seven, and with those seven, with that husband, with all the rest of Mildred’s family, we say so long for a while, Little Mid. If we will but have the same devotion and love of the Lord you had, we will surely meet again. In closing, I give you this excerpt from one of my favorite poems, one that was written by Mary Frye, who was born in 1904, writing this in 1932 when I was 2 years old, she then passing away in 2004, at age 100. I know that if my cousin Mildred could, she would echo Mary’s words: “Don’t stand at my grave and weep. I am not there. I do not sleep. Don’t stand at my grave and cry. I did not die.”


Smile Awhile
Sara Blair

HGTV and me

HGTV is as addictive as, well, Facebook. I swear on my Reupholstered headboard that I’m telling the truth. Just start watching anything from “house hunting” to “buying on a budget” and you’re hooked.
Now, I’m not looking for a house nor am I wanting to redecorate, but after a few minutes of watching excited couples choose from three houses that usually range anywhere from $450,000 to $950,000 I sit there mesmerized.
I suppose I’m obsessed with HGTV because everything looks so brand smacking new. You know what I mean, that feeling you get when you buy a new car or take your first plane ride; an excitement that’s hard to explain. But then I start thinking to myself —- it’s just a TV show so I start watching something else. But I always go back to the “other” channel.
Last week I was talking about paint and fabric swatches when Ronnie asked. “Are you watching HGTV again?”
“No,” I lied. “But I do think our house needs some ‘Curb Appeal’”
“Aha! I knew it!”. he shouted. “We don’t even have a curb.”
“See what I mean?”
Once you see a show on how you can remodel your front porch on a dime, or how you can turn your carport into an entertainment room your possibilities are endless. The sky’s the limit according to hundreds of contractors and interior decorators. And what is even more amazing is that many of these projects come in “under budget” and everyone gets along fabulously.
“That’s nothing more than a reality show, Sara,”. Ronnie said.
“Well, I can’t help it, I find it interesting and entertaining.”
“I’m just not a tool belt kind of guy,” Ronnie laughed.
“Or a lawn mower kind of guy, or a odd job type of guy, or . . “
“Whoa there,” he stammered, “I can unstop a commode!”
He had me there. I don’t care how stopped up a commode can get Ronnie can unstop it in a matter of minutes. He swears it is an art, but I call it a blessing. Maybe there should be a HGTV about commode unclogging.
“I’ve got a proposition for you,”. Ronnie said. “ I will try to be a little more helpful when it comes to fixing things around the house if you’ll promise me one thing.”
“I hesitated for a minute and then I agreed. “Okay, what is it?”. I asked.
“That you will fix seven meals in a row without eating out.”
Now I will get hooked on cooking shows.
Have a good week and don’t forget to Smile Awhile!


Poison Oak
Clyde Pack

Avoiding mosquitoes and smoke

Ever wonder why, when sitting around an open fire, you were the only one slapping the back of your neck, your arms, your face, while everybody else was happily singing “Kum Ba Ya” and enjoying a flaming, much too black marshmallow or a half-raw ball park wiener sizzling on the end of a thin stick?
Well, you’ll be happy to know that I just read an item in this month’s “AARP Bulletin” (for those under 50 who might be reading this, that’s a little tabloid-like publication we old people get in the mail that provides us information that’s supposed to make our lives better), that explained why some of us tend to be … as the author put it … “mosquito magnets.”
Stuck suspiciously like a space filler among more extensive articles about such topics as new Medicare scams, Jimmy Carter discussing how money corrupts politics (you think?), and a study about how the brain ages, was a one-paragraph tidbit explaining why some of us end our weenie roasts with little red blood stains all over our exposed skin, while others seemed to have been immune to the hateful little pests.
Guess the simplest way to put it is, we attract mosquitoes because we simply smell sweeter while the others stink. Well, the article didn’t exactly say it like that, but that’s about the best way I could sum it up.
Actually, according to what I read, while one’s body odor does indeed play a part in it all, it has nothing to do with the cologne you’re wearing nor your hygiene. Instead, it has everything to do with just plain genes, like what’s in your DNA. So if you attract mosquitoes, your daddy probably did too.
Seems a British study revealed that the reason some people are more attractive to mosquitoes while others aren’t, is because our genes control body odor and, as I said, some of us, whether we want to or not, emit an odor that mosquitoes like.
I suppose that’s all nice to know, but one has to wonder why on earth anybody would care enough about who did and who didn’t have to slap their arms and neck the most while sitting around roasting marshmallows, to conduct an expensive study. But for whatever reason, some group in Britain apparently did, and AARP cared enough about it to share the results with all its readers.
And now, I’ve shared it with both of you.
                                                                          ***

Of course, it didn’t take a British survey, especially for those who grew up in this part of the country, to know why the smoke from that same little campfire tends to follow just one person. That just means that whoever it is, is the best looking person there. As the old saying goes, “Smoke follows beauty.”
I’ve heard that old saying all my life, and naturally, I believe it. Matter of fact, when I was younger, I always kept a gas mask handy in case I got invited to a weenie roast.


Downhomer - By Eileen Parrigin Young
More of the story

I am a heavy user of bottled water. I never drink tap water, not liking its distinct taste of chlorine. I do love coal bank water. However, it takes time and effort to acquire this, in recycled gallon jugs kept for that purpose. So I regretfully deprive myself of drinking much of that goodie, a sacrifice which reserves this special water for my coffee and/or cooking.
Recently, it came as a shock to me when I discovered the bottled water I drink so lavishly has minerals added into it, supposedly put there to enhance its flavor. What’s more, the added in minerals are actually identified (in small print) on those bottles, as magnesium, potassium, calcium and some salt (sodium?). Since I myself have an ongoing problem with some of these things, I began to contact the various companies that markets bottled water; those with these added in ingredients they identify on their logos, either willingly or not; and did I say in very small print? Nevertheless, I soon learned many of the water brands that we buy today are produced by a particular corporation, the biggest of these being the Nestle Brand. This is a Swiss based company that in addition to its several different kinds of bottled water, also is the parent company for Gerber’s baby food, Carnation milk, Nesquick, Butterfingers, Boost, Nestle Crunch, Hot Pockets, Digorno, plus many other food items to numerous to mention. Some of the kinds of bottled water which Nestle markets includes; Poland Spring, Deer Park, Nestles Pure Life, and probably other kinds that I haven’t heard of yet. For me, then, if I really want to control how much of those added in minerals I am taking into my body, I just have to find out all I can about what water is available, then make up my own mind, make my own choices. Actually, I am finding out there are few kinds of bottled water that does not have these things in them. However, there are some that doesn’t. One of these is that Crystal Geyser Spring Water bottled in the Cherokee National Forest in Benton, Tenn. and that delicious water Walter and Mandy Dutton bring to our church.
Now I am the first to admit that when I get a bug (a pet peeve) in my mind, I am often loathe to let it go. So with thought of a source of good drinking water on my mind, I surfed the Internet. Doing so, I came across Kentucky Crystal Water. This is a product that is marketed as Mother Nature Spring Water, dispensed in Pike County, KY. Reading the logo on that web page, I found that Mother Nature Spring Water is from an Artesian spring that is located on Pine Mountain in the Jefferson National Forest, home to the Great Breaks Interstate Park. It is bottled at its source, from a spring located in the Breaks of the Mountains. The legend on their web page says the water is 100% natural and never treated with harsh chemicals or additives. It also goes on to say “Our water tastes better because it comes from sandstone springs nestled deep within the mountains, protected by thousands of acres of Kentucky land; and is a Kentucky Proud Company. Now that’s the water for me! You can bet I am going to find out where I can buy it. I just hope that nothing ever happens to contaminate, or make unusable this wonderful water.
Still surfing the Internet, I discover there are many other sources of natural water, in various places across our land. Some of this is readily available for our use. Who knows, in a day yet to come, we might be glad to have these natural springs, regardless of wherever they might be, and perhaps, in a time of great dearth, we might be very thankful for the water that flows from them. In like manner, we should also thank God for our wonderful coal bank water! I know I do.



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