The 33rd Annual Van Lear Town Celebration is in full swing, but Saturday is slated to be the busiest day of the weekend with events from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The weekend, also known as Van Lear Days, is a celebration of the proud coal mining town’s history, with games, music and a parade.

Saturday morning starts with a turkey shoot setting off from the Butcher Hollow School House at 8 a.m., a classic car show at the Van Lear Freewill Baptist Church at 9 a.m. and the Coal Miners’ Museum opening at 10 a.m. 

featured

Johnson Central High School hosted the tenth annual Awaken concert and conference Friday evening, which saw the return of Grammy-winning recording artist Zach Williams to the stage.

Other Christian artists, including The Collective, Sidewalk Prophets and Inside Joke also performed for the crowd of approximately 1,500.

Though it is perhaps best known as one of the region’s biggest annual Christian rock concerts, First Christian Church pastor and Awaken Ministries president Ben Stephens said the Awaken conference is much more.

The City of Paintsville is ready to celebrate Independence Day in a big way this year.

Starting Saturday night, Paintsville Tourism is hosting “Rock in the 4th” at Paint Creek Park, featuring live music from the Seth Ferguson Experience.

That event will run from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and admission will be free.

On Wednesday, July 4, a full slate of activities is set, starting with “Food and Fun” at the historic Stafford House from noon to 3 p.m.

Turning Pointe Dance Centre held its fourth annual spring dance recital this month at Johnson County Middle School with the theme, “You Better Work!” Johnson County students ages 2 through 18 were joined by other kids from Lawrence, Martin, Floyd and Magoffin Counties. TPDC  offers Mommy & Me, pre-ballet, pre-jazz, ballet, pointe, tap, hip-hop and contemporary dance styles, and will offer a summer dance camp July 16-18 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. each day. Fall classes start in August. For more information, contact studio owner/instructor Alli Adams at, (606) 264-7045, or find them on Facebook.

In the rolling hills of Williamsport, one man is doing everything he can to help some of nature’s most important creatures. 

Jason Conley did not wake up one day and decide to call himself “the Bee Man.” It’s a title he’s earned after making honeybees his life’s work, and spending decades studying them and helping them thrive in Eastern Kentucky.

Johnson Central High School carpentry students spent the year participating in a Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative project to build a tiny house.

The KVEC grant supplied the school $15,000, and school carpentry instructor Terry Bowling said his students were up to the challenge of building an entire home, even with a delay in obtaining the trailer foundation in the fall and with multiple snow days slowing the project in the spring.

The home features durable siding, a washer/dryer combination unit, full-size kitchen appliances and even a full bathroom with a bathtub. The unit is fully heated, cooled, wired and plumbed. 

On Wednesday, kids in Paintsville had the opportunity to meet Belle as part of promotion for the upcoming summer production of “Beauty and the Beast.”

Producer Terry V. Salyer said the event, held at the Paintsville Recreation Center, was part fundraiser, part community engagement. 

“It’s a way to introduce Belle to everyone,” Salyer said.

Angelia Doderer, an art teacher with Our Lady of the Mountains School, set up her students’ artwork for an outdoor gallery during the school’s end-of-the-year celebration Wednesday. Doderer said her students, who range in age from two to seven years old, use a wide variety of media, including pencils, inks, oil pastels, watercolors and even impression printing techniques, and cover advanced concepts, such as using brushstrokes to imply movement. For more information on Our Lady of the Mountains, contact the school at, (606) 789-3661.

Now, I don’t claim to be a philosopher, or anything like that, but I have done some really deep pondering in my day. I mean, all those long, dusty summer afternoons I spent as a boy sitting on the front steps of the company store among older coal miners waiting for the shift to change back in the 1940s, surely must have served some useful purpose that I can apply to these later years. I’ll admit that I couldn’t chew, whittle and spit as well as some of them, but even if I do say so myself, I could flat ponder. 

Since the beginning of time (and I do mean the Garden of Eden), all mankind has been interested in horticulture.  And by horticulture, I’m not talking apples.  I’m talking about those whom I like to refer to as the Hope Seekers; the people who await Spring in hopes of tilling the soil, planting different seeds, and waiting for a bounty of wondrous, magnificent flowers to beautify their landscapes.

It is almost impossible for young people of this generation to visualize a time before cell phones and iPads. They live with computers and the Internet and Blue Tooth, with speed dialing, text messaging and Facebook. Nor can you paint a picture in their minds of how much the world has changed, just in my lifetime. They listen politely when I speak to them about the simple things of bygone days. Then as soon as I finish speaking, they turn back to their own pursuits; often as not involving some of those electronic gadgets.

I was married June 17, 1950, to a World War II veteran who was stationed on the Pacific Island of Tinian, the base where and when the Enola Gay bomber dropped the two atom bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, thereby ending World War II. Harold finished his education at Western Kentucky State Teachers College (now WKU) found a Western Kentucky girl who though he was wonderful.  On June 25, 1950, we were having breakfast in the furnished apartment he had rented in Paintsville before we married, and listening to a little radio someone had given me when I graduated college.

Now that baseball season is “in full swing” (no pun intended) I began thinking about when my son J. R. was growing up and playing ball for what then seemed like seven days a week.  Without a doubt his father and I probably survived on hot dogs popcorn, and nachos for nearly 10 years.  We felt so at home at the field. Jimmie started applying boot black under his eyes and I started wearing cleats as my normal footwear.

This week, 88-year-old Betty Garey, of Volga, called to submit for publication a poem about the changing of the seasons.

The East Kentucky Gearheads car club and the Johnson County Jeep Club gathered at the Paintsville Ramada on Saturday for a cruise-in to raise money and donations for the First Church of God Food Pantry. The event included concessions from the Carriage House Restaurant, live entertainment, games and more.

Although I’ve been a quarter century away from the classroom, the old school teacher in me has once again raised his ugly head. What prompted this latest uprising is an old newspaper clipping I ran across the other day after having   copied and squirreled it away at some time in the far distant past. Its author was not identified, but it ran on the front page of this very newspaper on September 19, 1907. (I said it was old).

PIKEVILLE — MTV has released a statement about a project that is currently being filmed in Pike County. 

A “docuseries,” which is currently being called “Made in Kentucky,” caused a stir in the Elkhorn City community last month when the production company allegedly attempted to utilize an Elkhorn resident’s garbage bin as a “hot tub.” Members of the production team came to a special called Elkhorn City council meeting to address some “concerns” being voiced about the show. 

With the worst of the winter weather in the rearview mirror, the East Kentucky Gearheads have started off a new season of car shows, including the first Paintsville Cruiz’N on Saturday. Together with the Johnson County Jeep Club, another car show will be held on Saturday, April 28 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., with concessions, an open mic and admission proceeds going to the First Church of God Food Pantry. 

After all these years, I still enjoy certain foods that I enjoyed when just a youngster. Soup beans, cornbread and a thick-sliced bologna sandwich still find their way to my menu on a regular basis. But one thing I didn’t like then, and still don’t care for today, is frog legs.

Older boys in the neighborhood would rig up gigs, a large nail driven into the end of a broomstick and flattened by placing it on a T-rail and pounding it with a hammer. A few who enjoyed the sport more frequently even had those three-prong, store-bought ones, and spent all night frog gigging. Then, I’d hear tales about what a fine mess of frog legs their moms had fried up and how they tasted just like chicken -- only better. I’d just take their word for it because, to my knowledge, I never tasted one.

Anyone who knows us are aware that Ronnie and I are avid, over-the-top animal lovers.  In the 19 years we have been married we have raised five of the sweetest dogs you would ever want to let lick your face.  They liked other dogs and they were never mean to humans either.  At the present time we are animal-less due to my health issues because we are often out-of-town for doctor appointments.  However, we continue to love our family and our friend’s animals as our own.

The Johnson Central High School Players drama troupe premiered its latest offering at the SIPP Theater in downtown Paintsville beginning Thursday morning, marking the third production of the 2017-2018 school year.

The group’s newest show is “The Little Mermaid,” which director Emily Warne said is the group’s largest production yet, having the largest cast and crew of any JCHS Players show to date. 

In a rerun episode of The Little House on the Prairie, some children were shown in a big open field where they were picking greens. Then the scene moved to Mrs. Olson, the closed mind antagonist of that program, she saying how poor the family of those children was “that they have to pick gre…

The title is not original with me. That is what somebody posted on my timeline yesterday. He/she was obviously unhappy because it was snowing big flakes and looking very unlike April. Of course it looks funny to see the flowers blooming and the leaves out on the trees and snow flying everywhere. I was grateful that the snow melted as fast as it hit the ground, but some places farther north are having snow piled up two feet high. In April!

Not April! The 96th of January!

 

My sister Amanda (who lives in Indiana) spends a lot of time on the telephone with me in an attempt to get me to eat healthier and exercise more.  I know she does it because she’s there and I’m here, however. I know she gets especially upset with me when she thinks I’m not taking her advice to heart.

Despite everything I’ve read -- and even after I’ve taken that  Jungian test that has proven otherwise -- people continually accuse me of having a Type A personality. 

A Johnson County man will be featured in “Choices,” an upcoming film to debut at the Christ Temple Church in Huntington, West Virginia on April 20 and 21.

Rick Roberts, a long-time thespian and Johnson County native, is featured in the film as a co-inmate to star Ron James, a motivational speaker and the author of a book, also titled “Choices,” which chronicles James’ long history with the correctional system. 

If you have a hair stylist who is patient, kind and flexible with an inflexible customer as I often am, you’re a lucky person indeed.  I say this because Lora, my stylist at Unique Boutique, is the most accommodating young lady who tolerates my erratic schedule even though it often doesn’t coincide with hers.

A few days ago as I sat waiting for Wilma Jean to emerge from the little nook that sells all the sweet-smelling bath powders and lotions and stuff, I decided that the mall is the absolute best place in the world to observe the state in which we find ourselves as far as our culture goes.

Those of us who were reared in rural Eastern Kentucky during the 1940s and early 1950s may not have been privileged economically, but since we didn’t know any better, we might as well have been. After all, you can’t miss what you’ve never had. 

The older I get the more I think about how I grew up.  That’s right.  The more I move forward the more I’m reminded of how I got here.

That’s not an anomaly.  I think many people feel that way as they get older.  But what I’m reminded most about my past than anything else is how lucky I have been in my life. Just how fortunate I have been to have what I have even though it’s not all that much.

With spring on the horizon, prom and wedding season is also just around the corner. With this in mind, the Ramada Conference Center spent Saturday hosting vendors of all kinds in a Bridal and Prom Expo. Attendees were able to browse a wide variety of prospective wedding venues, entertainment, catering options and much more, with bridal and prom dress retailers also on hand.

In November of 1967 while driving back to our house at Turner Branch I saw what I perceived to be an UFO.  Call me crazy (I know you’re thinking it because I was too), but I had reached over to turn on the radio when I glanced up to see a cigar-shaped object only a few feet above the telephone pole on the side of the road.  It had red lights on one end and green lights on the other and it was not traveling that fast. My heart immediately began to race.  I was in front of where the Southside Freewill Baptist Church is now located (a filling station was there then), so I turned at Mill Branch road and booked it back into Paintsville.

While some of us may not be able to tell Venus from the space station, even the most amateurish astronomer among us  should recognize and appreciate a full moon. Say “full moon” to some people and they’ll say, “Stand back! The crazies will be out!” Others insist the most docile family pets often go berserk during a full moon. Since the next one is scheduled for tomorrow night, March 1, it might be a good time to notice a few things.

There is an old ‘Twilight Zone’ episode where a man’s household appliances turn against him because he hates them for the enslavement to convenience that they have perpetrated on mankind.  By the end of the show they have surrounded him and forced him into the swimming pool where he meets his demise.

Last week, I was thumbing through a little book my daughter-in-law gave me for Christmas a few years back. I remember her telling me, “I saw this and it reminded me so much of you.” I could tell it was a book, and as I tore into it, I remember thinking it would be something titled The World’s Best Father-in- Law, or maybe Favorite Cowboys of the 1940s. Nope. I found myself holding a copy of Don Voorhees’ The Indispensable Book of Useless Information. A blurb on the cover read, “Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more useless – it does.”

As much as I hate to admit it, I was probably approaching my teenage years before I realized that a real human heart wasn’t shaped like a valentine. I guess my ignorance of anatomy resulted from the fact that those once-a-year valentine parties at school far outweighed anything I chose to remember from my once-a-week health classes. As the big day rolled around, the teacher would write the name of everybody in the room on the blackboard. (Blackboards were really black back then). I’d copy the list, take it home, and on the designated day -- usually the Friday closest to February 14 -- I’d bring everybody on the list a little valentine that Mom had bought at Murphy’s five and ten. 

It seems there’s a new Monopoly game out that caters to cheaters.  You heard me right; it encourages the players to cheat by stealing money from the bank, foreclosing on properties, and collecting rents not owed them.  And if you go to Jail you have to wear a pair of handcuffs (that come with the game) until you get out.

It’s probably not going to be the most sensational movie ever made but  “they” (somebody in Hollywood) are going to make a movie about everybody ‘s favorite neighbor, Mr. Rogers, and “they” have wisely picked the one actor who has the ability to portray such a squeaky clean TV icon as Fred Rogers —- and that’s Tom Hanks.

From time to time, I’ll hear -- or read -- something that will spark a memory of something -- or someone -- that occurred more than fifty years ago. Such was the case a while back when I began thinking of a schoolmate I knew when I was in the seventh or eighth grade. He was a likeable, good-natured young man, but one of those kids that, at least when it came to school, was here today, gone tomorrow.

Newsletters