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Columns

  • Judge-executive answers: Whose government is it?

    Many residents incorrectly view county government as just “the government for the unincorporated areas” of the county. In reality, county government provides virtually the same services to every person – city and rural residents alike. In contrast, city governments provide additional services, or increased levels of service, to residents living within their city limits.

    Services provided by county government include:

  • Complicated family communication

    Getting a telephone call from by sister during the work day prompts an immediate emotional reaction. Seeing her name on the cellphone’s display screen brings a quick surge of tension and the beginnings of a knot in my stomach.

    It’s not that she always calls with bad news. It’s usually no big deal. But if she’s calling, it’s probably urgent, particularly if the call comes during the work day.

    We don’t call each other often.

  • Cycle of life and of hope seen in garden graves

    “You’d better get what’s left of your garden in; we’re going to have a hard freeze tonight,” Glen, my gardening mentor, warned me several weeks ago. 

    And so I carried in the tomato vines, picked the peppers and salvaged what okra was left. In the garage, they now are ripening so fast that some are beginning to rot before we can get them eaten.

    My wife tolerates my boastful proclamation: “It’s November and we still enjoy the garden,” as if this justifies the time devoted to working the ground this past summer.

  • Learn to treasure the night before Thanksgiving

    I’ll take the night before Thanksgiving over Christmas Eve any year.

    Christmas Eve is a tired ol’ day, worn out by the flurry of activity preceding it. By the time it arrives, usually too soon, it’s all out of breath as it plops its burden of stress and strain —  last minute shopping, checklists, nagging questions (Did I get her the right gift? Will it fit him? Should I have just given the kids money and been done with it?) — at your doorstep.

  • Isolation and inconvenience from construction ends

    Living close to work is ideal.

    I have been a commuter and you can have it.

    Typically, the drive from house to office takes about five minutes. It’s even quicker if the single traffic signal along the route decides to cooperate. That’s not enough time to hear two country songs, which explains while I’m no longer in tune with music coming out of Nashville.

  • Penn State refrain: 'Say it ain't so, Joe'

    Upon hearing the news of Joe Paterno’s failure to do more to protect the kids in the case of Jerry Sandusky’s alleged crime, my first thought was, “Say it ain’t so, Joe”— the line the little boy supposedly spoke to baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson as he walked down the steps of the courthouse after appearing before a grand jury for allegedly fixing the 1919 World Series.

  • Local craftsman provided a link to Lincoln

    It was front page news when the Boundary Oak died.

    An impressive figure, the tree was six feet wide and 90 feet tall with a crown that spread 115 feet. A tree of that size casts quite a shadow.

    Its fame came not from its size but from the unique spot of Kentucky soil where the acorn fell. About a quarter century after it sprouted, a surveyor used the oak as a point of reference on a deed for the Sinking Springs farm.

  • Listen before sharing your own beliefs

    We had just left the Hindu temple when I noticed the red dot on my mother’s forehead. It was the “tilaki,” the third eye or mind's eye, associated with many Hindu gods, also symbolizing the idea of meditation and spiritual enlightenment. 

    I, a recent graduate of a high school education, feeding on my scholastic possibilities, feeling strong in my evangelical superiority, upbraided my mother: “You let them mark you! And, that’s a false religion.”

    My mother was neither intimidated or perturbed by her 19-year-old son.

  • Help returning soldiers adapt

    Back in 2005-06, my younger brother, Sam, spent a year in Iraq – an infantry soldier with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. He was in the Sunni Triangle going out on “missions” daily.

    Understandably, it was a stressful year for the entire family. So imagine our relief when he came home safe and sound. Everything was going to be OK. We could all go back to life as normal.

    But pretty soon we realized that wasn’t the case.

  • Integrity is admirable trait sometimes in short supply

    With state elections just hours away, the campaign process has led to an extensive exploration of each candidate’s positions, actions and even their traits.

    As we are buried in the 30-second TV assaults that pass for political messages, one trait often seems lacking. Integrity.

    When it comes to integrity, few politicians and public servants would rank above R.R. “Babe” Thomas.