KET attempting to capture essence of Elizabethtown

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Feature scheduled to air on Kentucky Life in October

By Marty Finley

Kentucky Educational Television director and producer Tom Bickel’s favorable impression of Elizabethtown grew Monday morning as he arrived to shoot film at the Elizabethtown City Cemetery.


Anxious to record a piece of Elizabethtown’s Civil War history, Bickel was seeking out a cannon credited for the cannonball blast famous around the city.

Bickel was met by a man who was mowing the cemetery. After learning of Bickel’s intentions, the man hurriedly grabbed his equipment and cleaned the area around the cannon.

“You people are great around here,” Bickel said in response to the accommodating spirit he’s found all over the city.

Bickel and a videographer arrived in Elizabethtown this week to put some  finishing touches on a short feature planned for October on the central part of Elizabethtown that focuses primarily on U.S. 31W and the downtown area.

The feature, which will run roughly seven to nine minutes, will be featured  at 8 p.m. Oct. 8 on one of KET’s flagship programs, “Kentucky Life,” Bickel said. The episode will repeat multiple times.

The program is a showcase of people, places and ideas in the state and Bickel said Elizabethtown landed on the show’s radar as part of a series on city main streets.

KET made its first visit Sept. 1, when Kentucky Life host Dave Shuffett interacted with local business owners and community leaders as the show captured new businesses and attractions in downtown including the Historic State Theater.

Emily West, executive director of the Historic State Theater, said KET spent about an hour at the theater filming footage, and she provided the crew old photos of the theater for historical perspective.

“Of course I’m excited about the opportunity because I think there’s a lot of people who don’t know about the State Theater,” West said.

She believes statewide exposure could open up a new audience for the theater and she hopes the feature convinces people outside of the city that the theater is worth a drive to visit.

At the same time, she recognizes those who visit the theater will want to have other venues to access around downtown, and the feature will help shed light on new shops and businesses.

One of the businesses featured is ICON Engineering and Inspection Services, which debuted its downtown office at 35 Public Square in February after roughly two years of renovation.

Michael Childers, who owns ICON with his wife, Christy, said the KET feature should serve several purposes.

“Any type of exposure we get is beneficial for our business,” he said.

Childers, a supporter of downtown redevelopment, said a bigger asset may be the platform to demonstrate how a historic building can be used in a modern world effectively. The couple poured hundreds of thousands of dollars and buckets of their own sweat into bringing their vision of a downtown headquarters to fruition, and Childers said he hopes their example can serve as inspiration.

In combination, he said the feature will show people are taking risks and investing in downtown, which could open the door to attract more business.

Ultimately, Bickel said, “Kentucky Life” wants to capture an accurate depiction of life in a city and show what’s going on and how people live and do business.

The bulk of the interviews were recorded in early September, but Bickel said he still plans to capture footage of local businesses, such as Blueball Mountain Spindle & Needleworks and Moonlight Serenity Body Products, and was recording interior footage Monday morning at the Brown-Pusey House.

Bickel said KET’s work in Elizabethtown is coming to an end, but Elizabethtown has left its mark on him.

“I’m lucky, I have a job that’s fun,” he said. “I get to go all over the state and meet a bunch of people. It’s fun.”

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.