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From the Cheap Seats: Falling in love with E’town’s sense of community

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By Jeff D'Alessio

I must admit, until July of 1986, I never knew Elizabethtown existed.

And if it wasn’t for coaching baseball, I probably would have gone at least a few more years without knowing this gem off Interstate 65.

Coaching a 13-year-old All-Star team from Shelby County was my introduction to what I now know as E’town, and more importantly, a place I consider my home.

I remember driving on I-65 and seeing the exit 94 sign and getting a little flutter in my stomach. We had a really good team that year and we arrived at our regional destination expecting to win. That can be a very fine line to walk, knowing you are the team to beat. Especially with a bunch of 13-year-old boys.

The first person I met here was Steve Best, who coached the E’town All-Stars. We occasionally still kid each other about the two games we played on University Drive against each other in that regional tournament: the first game and the last. We won both on the way to a state championship.

To this day, Steve and I are friends and we are linked by that weekend in July.

Two Julys later, I was living here.

It was a wonderful career opportunity that brought me to Elizabethtown, but it is living in this community that has kept me here and not wanting to leave for nearly 25 years.

I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I can say that, I guess, because I haven’t lived many places in my 52 years of life. Just four cities, none with a population of more than 50,000.

We all search for a comfort zone in life. I have found mine here.

Many of the people I care about most in my life live within minutes of me and that is a really nice luxury to have. Kids are either in the house or within minutes away. Granddaughter is 15 minutes away. Extended family is scattered around the county, but all within a quick drive.

I have met some outstanding people while living here. People who can make me smile by the way they greet me each time we see each other such as John and Karen Pawley, or David Dawson from LaRue County who can make me laugh with his text messages like nobody else. Or Bo O’Brien, who teaches us all to make the most of every single day.

There are way too many people to check off as leaving an impact on me, but I do know we would not have crossed paths if it wasn’t for finding Elizabethtown as an ideal home for me.

While I live in Elizabethtown, the county as a whole has been good to me. I love the countryside and the magic of towns such as Glendale. I appreciate the community spirit of these small towns who embrace each other.

Here is where I have found my sense of community.

Some of my fondest sports memories came while I covered North Hardin basketball and Fort Knox football. I once was accused by some Elizabethtown High fans of being a North Hardin graduate. Later, I was accused by some North Hardin fans of being an Elizabethtown High graduate. Nope to both.

I know Elizabethtown is not for everyone. I have heard my children in their teen years talk about how there is “nothing to do here.” I felt the same way about my hometown that is twice as big as Elizabethtown when I was a teen. Actually, I still feel the same way.

I am not comfortable where I grew up anymore. I am, however, comfortable here in the 270. I could argue that here is where I actually grew up.

Unlike many who are raised here and never leave, I just don’t want to ever leave here for good. Sure, I don’t mind a week or two a year on a Florida beach. I wouldn’t even mind a month or two on a Florida beach in about 12 years.

But I love getting home. I just love living here.

Looking back now, as many people my age tend to do, I am fortunate I was given the opportunity to move here.

I really can’t imagine wanting to live or raise a family anywhere else.

Jeff D’Alessio is news editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at (270) 505-1757 orjdalessio@thenewsenterprise.com.