Bright spots

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Editorial: Dec. 4, 2012

ISSUE: Accomplishments throughout county
Kudos all around

One of Hardin County’s most cherished Christmas traditions is on. Christmas in the Park at Freeman Lake Park in Elizabethtown, open from 6 to 11 p.m. through Jan. 1, is a great opportunity for family time spent sharing holiday cheer.

Driving through the park with the radio tuned to Christmas music, of course, the child in all of us is dazzled by more than million lights illuminating more than 100 displays.

And it’s free, though donations are collected to pay the power bill. Electricity usage, by the way, is down significantly because many displays now feature LED lighting, which also is more striking visually and prevents system overloads.

The event, now in its 22nd year, is supported by many volunteers and businesses that offer displays.

Across the state, many families make long trips to see such a showcase. We’re quite privileged to have the event — named a top 10 winter event/holiday destination this year by the Kentucky Travel Industry Association, in fact — in our community. It’s so close and so well done that locals young and old ought to enjoy the magic twice.

RIDERS GIVE TOYS. Turnout for the 16th Hardin County Toys for Tots run was enough to make organizers’ jaws drop. Come Christmas morning, the jaws of children will be dropping, too.

A volunteer charged with standing on the side of the road and counting the passing motorcycles tallied 2,269 bikes riding from Elizabethtown to West Point, and plenty were carrying two people.

Wheeler said some bring one toy, which is the fee for admission to the run, while some bring a bike full.

The run, sponsored by Harley-Davidson Louisville in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, served approximately 1,600 children in Hardin County in 2011. Event coordinator Vickie Wheeler expects more families will need help providing children a merry Christmas this year.

High participation at the ride will help. But, still, the need is always met, Wheeler said. People always step up. Thanks go the event organizers, those who brought thousands of toys to the ride and the last-minute contributors. Their efforts will brighten Christmas morning across Hardin County.

A CHAMPION FOR ANIMALS. After more than 29 years of service, Jerry Foley has retired as Hardin County Animal Control supervisor. Although he has left the job, many of the programs and initiatives started during his tenure continue to make an impact for animals and animal owners.

The department could take some credit for the community’s concern for animals and its willingness to speak out against animal abuse. Through educational programs launched by Foley’s department, he said they reached a generation of children in classrooms who are now grown men and women.

Foley helped create the county’s spay and neuter program in coordination with Hardin County Pet Protection and secure grants for numerous facility expansions so the department could house more animals. He also implemented a program to handle neglected livestock, a shelter volunteer effort and public awareness campaigns. And all along, Foley led the way in increasing pet adoptions.

His noteworthy work has led to countless saved animals and countless families finding a pet to love.

AN OPPORTUNITY TO GROW. John Hardin High School Principal Alvin Garrison is one of three educators chosen to participate in the Minority Superintendent Internship Program.

He’ll train with Hardin County Schools Superintendent Nannette Johnston for one year and then complete a one-year internship in another district.

The program is meant to give a boost to ethnic minorities who could be candidates for superintendent jobs. With just one ethnic minority superintendent in a state with 174 school districts, it’s a striking imbalance.

Garrison said he wants to test himself in the environments the internship program will provide and gain leadership experience. These are great opportunities that will serve Garrison, his school and his district.

Congratulations to Garrison.

TENNIS TIME IS HERE. New tennis courts are open for play at Freeman Lake Park, although evening play won’t start until Christmas in the Park ends.

Bo O’Brien, chairman of the Elizabethtown Tennis Commission, turned on the lights opening night. He largely is credited with the growing interest in tennis in the area and working with the city to build new courts.

The courts, bringing the total number of city-maintained outdoor courts to 22, are a worthy addition to Elizabethtown’s recreational offerings.

O’Brien, other tennis enthusiasts and city officials should be applauded for creating an atmosphere that will not only encourage physical activity but attract tournaments and their economic benefits to Elizabethtown.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.