Monday, March 31, 2008

Museum rich with history

As June approaches the Ben E. Clement Mineral Museum in Marion, Ky., is gearing up for its third annual mineral show and dig.

If you haven't taken the time to visit the museum, you're missing out on a real treat.

The museum, located next to Fohs Hall in downtown Marion, is home to the world's largest collection of fluorite samples. Now that might not sound too interesting to the average Reality TV Show fan, but in fact it's quite intriguing. The museum displays its collection in gripping fashion with the use of fascinating lighting schemes. The region's storied mining history is also on display at the museum, which is named for the late Ben E. Clement, one of the country's foremost geologists in the early 20th century.

The county's rich fluorspar mining history is traced through documents, journals, displays and old machinery exhibited inside and outside the museum. Crittenden County is believed to be the first place in Kentucky where fluorspar was mined.

Tina Walker, manager of the museum, sent us a copy of a letter to the editor that a couple of visitors submitted to the Madisonville Messenger newspaper recently. Don and June Greenfield of Madisonville wrote, "there is a rare treasure in Marion in nearby Crittenden County. Rock formations more beautiful than I have ever seen anywhere are on display."

Walker was proud of the reaction from those visitors, but not surprised. Virtually everyone who views the collection of crystals and rocks is amazed at their beauty.

Later this summer, on June 7-8, the museum will host its big show and dig. The digs are especially attractive to rock hounds who come in from all across the country to scratch and scrape around on area farms in search of interesting specimens. They find dozens of beautiful rocks because this part of the country is known for its abundance of unique crystals and minerals.

For more online about the mineral museum go to MarionKentucky.US/ClementMineralMuseum.

Or check out this brief video footage at The Crittenden Press' YouTube Channel.

Bad news for UK

Kentucky football wide receiver DeMoreo Ford ruptured the patella tendon in his knee during practice on Saturday and could miss the 2008 season, the Associated Press reported this morning.

That's especially disheartening for UK fans because Ford was certain to have a banner year this fall.

Ford, a junior, will have surgery to repair the injury this week. In his career, For has made 20 receptions for 236 yards and two touchdowns. He played his high school football for former Crittenden County head coach Steve Pardue, who now coaches at LaGrange, Ga.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Obituaries: Update

Bobby Raymond Clark, 54, of Marion died Saturday, March 29, 2008 at his home. Clark was a member of the Mattoon Volunteer Fire Department.

Survivors include his wife, Wanda Clark of Marion; stepmother, Teresa Clark of Marion; a son, Bobby Clark Jr. of Marion; two daughters, Samantha Hayes and Sheena Lane, both of Marion; and six grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Raymond and Juanita Clark.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m., Wednesday, April 2 at Gilbert Funeral Home with Rev. Tom Easley and Rev. David Davis officiating. Burial will be at Crowell Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 5-9 p.m., Tuesday.

Condolences may be offered online at

Barbara Rhea Guess Easley
, 55, of Marion died Saturday, March 29, 2008 at her home. She was a member of Cave Springs Baptist Church.

Survivors include her husband, Jackie Easley; her parents, Lonnie and Helen Travis of Eddyville and Jewel and Carol Pugh of Marion; two sons, Tony Floyd and wife Kim Of Marion and Kevin Floyd and wife Tiffany of Princeton, Ind.; a daughter, Angela Crowell of Sturgis; stepsons, Jackie Easley Jr. and wife Christina of Hartford, Steven Easley of Cincinnati; a brother, Kent Martin and wife Phyllis of Marion; and a sister, Shannon Williams and husband Steve of Stillwater, Tex.; four grandchildren and four step-grandchildren.

Easley was preceded in death by her grandparents, Elvas And Marie Guess; and an uncle, Ricky Guess.

Funeral services will be at 1 p.m., Monday, March 31 at Gilbert Funeral Home in Marion with Rev. Heath Martin officiating. Burial will be at Asbridge Cemetery.

Visitation is today from 5-9 p.m., at the funeral home.

Condolences may be offered online at

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Coffee Break

As promised, I've got a bit more about the Coffee Shop in Marion being closed for renovations.

We visited with co-owner Kory Wheeler Saturday and she tells The Press Online that the renovation will be done in two phases. The first phase will not really be noticed by customers, other than it's prompting the temporary shutdown. The Main Street restaurant will be closed for another couple of weeks and when it re-opens the kitchen area will be like new.

They are taking out the old concrete floor, replacing it and adding all new cooking equipment and walls. The seating area will get its own facelift in June and Korey and Bill Wheeler are also renovating the upstairs at that point, where banquets and meetings can be held.

While the Coffee Shop is undergoing its renovation, the Wheelers invite everyone to the Front Porch, their restaurant on the south end of town. Its open daily, except for Wednesday.

Here's a little teaser for next week's Coffee Shop blog ... Watch for a new moniker, too!

Biker turf war

It seems as though big brother has his panties in a wad.

Sturgis, S.D., Chamber of Commerce is suing Sturgis, Ky., over the little western Kentucky town's motorcycle rally held each July since 1993. The South Dakota Chamber started holding a much larger and wider known motorcycle rally in 1938 and apparently holds a trademark on the name.

So now, big Sturgis has filed a federal lawsuit in South Dakota accusing Sturgis, Ky., of stepping on its protected turf. It seeks to stop "little" Sturgis from using the name.

So what's Sturgis, Ky., to do? Change the name of the town?

I think Sturgis Bike Week's Web site said it best, "The Sturgis (S.D.) Chamber of Commerce has finally hit rock bottom. Like an alcoholic drinking Aqua Velva filtered through a baby’s diaper, they can’t go any lower. The entirely NON-BIKER Chamber Board of Directors filed a federal lawsuit this week accusing Sturgis Kentucky of infringing on their trademarks." Those comments were issued by the corporation that owns the name to Sturgis Bike Week which makes all of the licensed apparel for the South Dakota event.

Even the town of Sturgis, S.D., appears to be miffed at the provocation of a biker turf war. It issued a statement late last week making it clear that the town has no part in the lawsuit. It's the Chamber of Commerce that's pitting biker brother and biker brother. The group is asking the U.S. District Court in South Dakota to hear the case and it also wants monetary damages.

It doesn't appear that the lawsuit will affect this year's rally in Sturgis, Ky., set for July 17-20.

Stay tuned for this one; it could get ugly.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Hillary coming to Madisonville

Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton will be in Madisonville Saturday, an early visit to Kentucky ahead of the May 20 primary election.

Clinton will also be in Louisville Saturday.

The candidate, in a tight race but slightly trailing Barack Obama in balloting, is drawing a lot of support in Hopkins County.

She will speak at the Ruby Laffoon Dinner, named for a Madisonville native who served as Kentucky governor in the early to mid-1930s. The event generally draws a few hundred people, but organizers think about 3,500 will attend now that Clinton is on the dance card.

Clinton campaign officials say she will handily carry Kentucky.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Recent deaths

Here are some recent deaths since The Crittenden Press was published this week. For more information, contact the appropriate funeral homes. Their phone numbers are at The Press Online's obituary page.

Eloise McDonald, 87, of San Bernardiino, Calif., formerly of Livingston County, died March 22, 2008 at County Villa Hacinda Nursing Home in San Bernardino.

Ovella Doom Perryman, 85, of Marion died Wednesday. March 26, 2008 at Crittenden Hospital. Gilbert Funeral Home in Marion is in charge of arrangements.

Q&A with Dycusburg historian

Matthew T. Patton informs us that his Dycusburg book continues to remain popular. Who would have thought that the tiny town in Southern Crittenden County on the Cumberland River was so rich in history and genealogy?

Patton is selling the book for $50 until April 1 (it's originally price at $75), and encourages those interested in the book to e-mail him at We sold them here at The Crittenden Press a few years back, and we could barely keep them. It's not surprising, then, that Patton's on his sixth printing and has sold hundreds of copies. Here's a Q&A with Patton about the book and his interest in the county's (primarly Dycusburg and Frances) history.

The Press Online (CP): What got you started on history and genealogy?
Patton (P): When I was younger, my brother was assigned a family genealogy project under Eric LaRue, his English teacher. I was a few grades behind my brother, but once he started, I was more interested than he was. I found a yellowed piece of paper that my great-grandfather, Ollie Guy Patton, had written about our family. On it, he told where my family came from (Laurel Co., Ky.) to Crittenden County. They moved to the county around 1878, settling on the Cumberland near Paddy's Bluff. The rest, they say, is literally history.

CP: Naturally, when you're studying family history, you start taking an interest in towns, right?
P: Absolutely. Because the majority of my family lived near Dycusburg and Frances, I began to learn, through historical osmosis, about those towns. Fortunately, too, many people had blazed the trails for me along the way, like Brenda Underdown, Fay Carol Crider, Doyle G Polk Jr., and Brenda Joyce-Jerome. Many, many others helped me along the way, and their names are listed in the front of the Dycusburg book.

CP: What's the story behind the Dycusburg book?
P: It's actually great how the whole thing came about. I was three credit hours short of graduating a semester early at the University of Kentucky. I approached my journalism professors and advisers and asked if I could write a book as an independent study course. They absolutely loved the idea and I worked on the book the entire semester. I really, really did not know how popular the book would turn out to be.

CP: What's the most interesting thing you've learned about Dycusburg?
P: I continue to stress that Dycusburg was indeed a great little town ... and it still is. I maintain, which is now in a blog format on the whole, and I try to convey that message. The most interesting thing is hard to pinpoint, but I guess the saddest part is if the three massive fires didn't happen (the worst in 1906 and 1908), the city would be much bigger than it is now. It's still a loving little community ... and hopefully one that you'll see become even nicer and cleaner within the next few years.

CP: So why should folks buy your book?
Never before has a more comprehensive book about the town been published. I have received so many notes from people through the years telling me they never knew how much history Dycusburg had! I really love talking with people and meeting people who have ties to Dycusburg. In the more than 500 I've sold, I've never had a complaint about the book. People genuinely love it.

CP: Tell us about the Dycusburg Veteran's Memorial.
P: This summer, a group called the Dycusburg Community Foundation will be erecting a veteran's memorial at Dycusburg in honor of those who have served our country in times of war ... both living and for those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We still have a ways to go to raise money for the marker. Go here for more information.

(Editor's Note: To learn more about Dycusburg, visit E-mail Patton at to reserve a copy of the book.)

Bang, bang dead beaters

Illinois is taking aim at dead-beat dads like a hunter draws down on a 10-point buck.


What a novel idea. Illinois officials have figured out that withholding hunting and fishing licenses can prompt fathers to catch up on their child support payments. That's right, cut off their hunting privileges and these delinquent dads suddenly find a harboring love for their children. Sad, but true.

Whatever it takes, I say. Deadbeat dads – and those who skirt their parental responsibilities through a variety of evasive maneuvers – are among those for which I carry the greatest contempt.

If pulling their hunting rights is working, imagine the possibilities, if perhaps, we could bar them from the liquor store, too.

For more on Illinois' exercise in taking aim on dead-beaters, see today's Chicago Tribune story.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

About town

There a couple of things about town that might be of interest to our online readers.

The Coffee Shop in Marion is getting a facelift. Owners Bill and Kory Wheeler have purchased the building from their previous landlord, James T. Hatfield, and the couple is now sprucing up the place. The downtown Main Street restaurant is closed during remodeling. We'll have some updates and more photos in the next couple of days. In the meantime, the Wheeler's other restaurant on the south side of town, The Front Porch, is open for business. They invite everyone to visit there while the Coffee Shop is being updated.

Noticed some surveying going on north of downtown on Sturgis Road Tuesday. J&J Surveying was shooting lines in the old hitching lot next to the former Druther's restaurant, now Cozy Hearth. Don't know for sure, but I'd bet that's where Dollar General is going now that Farmers Bank has bought the thrift store's building on Main Street.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Reaching way out there

On the Web, you really never know who's watching – unless, that is, you are using Google Analytics or some other data-catching service. Even then, you really never know who exactly is peeking in on what you're doing.

This little country newspaper blog was caught red handed recently. We were just delivering the news like always when the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues came calling. Tim Wiseman and former Louisville Courier-Journal writer Al Cross are bloggers for the institute aimed at helping non-metropolitan journalists define the public agenda for their communities, and to help them grasp the local impact of broader issues, according to its own Web site.

Wiseman called The Crittenden Press office in Marion earlier this week inquiring about our editor's blog. We discussed for a good while the reasons The Crittenden Press – despite our somewhat isolated existence in rural America – tries to stay on the cutting edge of technology.

Wiseman and Cross found our blog and made us an example for other rural community newspapers to follow. They posted a story on the Rural Journalism Blog.

Think what you want, but it's a feather in our cap. It proves that our plan is working. Our strategy is defined by a belief that despite rural isolation, we can still have at our fingertips a virtual world audience.

Thanks to the Internet, The Crittenden Press Online and our editor's blog, have a stage much larger and broader than most of us realize. Now, if we can only find a way to make it as profitable as the hand-held version of The Crittenden Press, we'll be – to use a rural term – walkin' in tall cotton.

Watch the tulips

I always know that "true" spring is just around the corner when the tulips in front of The Press office start pushing up toward the sky. Check them out this week when you stop by for a newspaper. Not blooming yet, but they're an inspiration of hope!

This week we're working on some interesting articles for the newspaper. Police officer Bobby West, pictured at right, was busy last weekend in the line of duty. West stopped a car driving on the walking track at the park Friday night and charged a man with DUI. On Easter morning, the officer saved a family from a burning home.

Also, spring sports has kicked off this week. The high school baseball and softball teams started up and sports writer Chris Hardesty will have all the details from their spring openers.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Maple syrup time

Someone phoned the newspaper office today and gave us a tip that the Amish are making maple syrup. If you've never watched it done, it's worth a drive out into the Amish community to try and catch them in the act.

Making maple syrup is a laborious chore. The Amish do it outdoors over an open flame in large vats. I've done it on the kitchen stove. My problem was the cooking. I boiled my sap down so low it ended up being maple candy rather than maple syrup. It was still pretty tasty though.

Tapping maple trees for several days in a row during the late winter and early spring will yield plenty of sap. A mature tree will produce well over a gallon of sap per day.

It takes a keg of sap from a maple tree to make a tablespoon of syrup (literally) and the way energy prices are today, cooking down 40 gallons of sap to get one gallon of syrup is costly.

Read more about our inability to meet global demand for maple syrup here on the Rural Journalism Blog. Or take a springtime drive to the Amish community in Crittenden County and watch it being done the old-fashioned way outdoors.

River rising near Tolu

The tiny hamlet of Tolu is once again threatened by the rising water of the Ohio River.

The river is expected to reach 49.7 feet at Shawneetown, Ill., Thursday. That's well above the 33-foot flood stage. When the river gets near 47 feet, it's lapping over the highway at Sawmill Hollow between Tolu and Elizabethtown Landing as it was Monday. It's also threatening barns, basements and homes in the low-lying areas right around Water Street in Tolu.

In 2005, a few months before Tolu Grocery Store closed for good, I took the following river level information off of a yellowing piece of paper hanging on the wall at the store. The late Tom Sherer started the list and others kept it up over the years. It tells the year and the water level at Shawnteetown when the river crested.

A River's History (Year and Crest Level)
1913: 61.5
1937: 68.4
1945: 58.4
1950: 58.6
1962: 53.0
1963: 55.3
1964: 56.4
1972: 50.7
1975: 52.5
1977: 50.3
1979: 54.7
1991: 53.7
1995: 49.6
1996: 50.2
1997: 54.5
2005: 54.0

Road checks planned

If you're going to be driving on U.S. 60 this week expect to see law enforcement officers.

As part of the U.S. 60 Corridor Safety Blitz in several counties from the Ohio to Mississippi rivers, local police will be checking for speeding, seat belts and other traffic violations including DUI.

"We are planning to have three road safety checkpoints," said Marion Police Chief Ray O'Neal. "If the weather permits."

One safety checkpoint will be Wednesday afternoon and two more are scheduled for Friday and Saturday. The checkpoints will focus on U.S. 60 near the city limits. At least one location has been pinpointed. That will be at the city limits on U.S. 60 West near the sawmill.

O'Neal said that motorists should be prepared to show officers their driver's license, registration and proof of insurance.

Legion honoring veterans

The Ellis B. Ordway American Legion Post 111 in Marion is helping the U.S. Army honor its own. Legion member Jim Estes tells The Press that the group is gathering names of Army veterans as part of a Freedom Team Salute.

An application for recognition will appear in the printed edition of The Press. If you do not receive the printed edition, you may list the veteran's name, rank, dates of service and address on a piece of paper and mail it to American Legion, c/o P.O. Box 134, Marion, KY 42064.

Those names received will be honored during a Memorial Day ceremony at Mapleview Cemetery in Marion on May 26. Each honoree will receive a certificate of honor from the U.S. Army.

Storm issues remain

Although rumors indicate that the city is cleaning up storm debris left on the edge of streets, that is not true.

The City of Marion is not collecting storm debris piled on curbsides. Residents who have previously been assisted by the Baptist group cleaning up in the aftermath of the storm, did receive some relief thanks to the city.

However, as a general rule, city residents are responsible for the removal of their own storm debris. A city debris dump located on Mill Street is open and residents may use it free of charge.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

Happy Easter. Remember that we celebrate Easter because of Jesus Christ and not the Easter Bunny!

Remember, too, that Easter will not fall this early in March for nearly 300 more years. Those young ladies in Easter dresses might appreciate that.

Happy Birthday, Meredith. Enjoy your 9th birthday on the same day that we celebrate Easter and your official joining of the Marion United Methodist Church.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Only memories remain

Only memories remain of this former farmhouse that for about a century stood vigil on the southern end of Marion. The house, owned by Eddie and Karen Wheeler, was torn down Friday to make way for new residential development. Eddie's parents had lived in the home and he grew up there as a boy.

The house once was the centerpiece of a sprawling 300-plus acre farm that ran from where the Front Porch Restaurant is today to the tiny creek at the intersection of Coleman Road and U.S. 641 near Ricky Brown's house. The City of Marion bought part of the farm back in the 1940s to build Old City Lake.

Wayne Crider of Marion was raised in the old clapboard home and says it still had the same roof on it as it did when his father bought it in 1922. Crider recalls many stories about the old homeplace and shared them with The Press for a story that will be published in next week's printed edition. Crider's father sold the farm and house to the Wheelers in the mid 1940s.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Eddyville's Ty on top

Eddyville native Ty Rogers hit a 3-pointer with three defenders in his face and no time on the clock as his 12th-seeded Western Kentucky Hilltoppers stunned Drake 101-99 in overtime Friday in the first round of the NCAA tournament's West Regional.

Rogers played his high school ball at Lyon County. Those who saw him back then were not surprised that he could make such a shot on such a prestigious stage.

The fifth-seeded Drake Bulldogs (28-5) overcame a 16-point deficit in the final 8 minutes of regulation and led 99-98 after two free throws with 5.7 seconds to play. But Tyrone Brazelton raced across midcourt with the ball then tossed it to Rogers, whose long-rank 3-pointer from the wing gave the Hilltoppers (28-6) their first tournament victory since 1995.

Rogers' shot made headlines and highlight reels all across the nation as the NCAA Tournament finished up its first round games Friday night.

Rogers (5) is in the inset photo by the Associated Press.

Join the book signing

I would like to invite everyone to my first book signing between 10 a.m., and noon tomorrow, Saturday, March 22 at the Crittenden County Public Library.

We will have paperbacks and hardcover books available at special book signing prices.

I would also like to, ahead of time, thank the library for hosting the event. I have a very warm spot in my heart for libraries, especially ours in Crittenden County.

My book, South of the Mouth of Sandy, focuses on the period of Prohibition in American and is set in rural western Tennessee. It's non-fiction and based on the life of my great-grandfather, Tommy Evans, who was killed by alleged moonshiners.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Turkey Bay closed

Now that Paddy's Bluff ATV Park near Dycusburg is closed, most of the local off-road enthusiasts are heading to Land Between the Lakes to ride. Being a federal recreation area, LBL is subject various rules and regulations that some find restrictive. It also is subject to unscheduled closings as is the case right now.

LBL issued a news release today that says "due to rising lake levels, Turkey Bay Off Highway Vehicle Area is closed until further notice." The area just recently re-opened following an extend shutdown due to conditions created by winter runoff.

LBL said that portions of the main trail at Turkey Bay, along with the camping area, are under water at this time. Turkey Bay encourages users to call before heading that way in the future to make sure the area is open. Call 270-924-2000 or go to for current information.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rising river threatens Tolu

The Cave-in-Rock Ferry remains closed this week due to high water on the Ohio River.

Shirley Lewis, manager of the Cave-in-Rock Ferry office in southern Illinois, said Wednesday morning the ferry will be closed at least a week, probably longer. The ferry connects Crittenden County and Hardin County, Ill. It normally operates from 6 a.m., to 10 p.m., and carries about 500 vehicles per day, many of them commuters going to and coming from work on either side of the river.

The Ohio River is expected to crest at 49.5 feet at Shawnteetown Tuesday. However, additional rainfall will change that prediction, Lewis said. Flood stage is 33 feet.

"One thing you can't hardly predict is the river," Lewis said.

The river was at 44.5 feet Wednesday. The ferry cannot operate once the river is between 42 and 43 feet at Shawneetown.

Water is over Ky. 91 on the ferry approach in Crittenden County and its up to the edge of the parking lot on the Illinois side of the river, Lewis said.

"Once the river crests it will take a while for it to fall out," she added.

Debris floating in the river can also create hazards for the ferry even when the water starts receding.

While flooding remains serious along the river, it's still nowhere near the levels of the 1937 flood when the river went to 61.5 feet at Shawneetown.

In the tiny river town of Tolu, the rising water starts creeping into some buildings when it gets to 50 feet. At 52, some houses are in jeopardy.

The inset photograph is of the ferry operating during normal river conditions.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

School's in for Saturdays

Crittenden County School Board has opted to bring students to school on two Saturdays over the next couple of months to help make up for missed snow days.

The board approved a plan Tuesday night that includes going to school on Saturday, April 12 and Saturday, May 17. No other major disruption to the current calendar is expected. All traditional holidays and spring break were left in tact by the board.

Spring break will begin Monday, March 31.

Lots kickin' in Marion

There are many things going on in Marion this week.

Tonight, Crittenden Health Systems is having its annual meeting and dinner. It's a great time to hear what's happening at our local healthcare facility.

Additionally, CHS is offering free health fairs for any business in town. Their employees will come in to your business, set up shop and check blood pressure, cholesterol and heart rates of employees and/or patrons. At the last health fair, at Par 4 Plastics, CHS staff identified four people who needed to seek further testing immediately. They may have indeed saved a life.

Also tonight, the Crittenden School Board meets. It will be figuring out an amended calendar thanks to snow days this winter. The board will decided whether to take off days from spring break, or require students to go to school on holidays and/or Saturdays between now and June. Chances are, they will decide to go a Saturday or two, and maybe even on Memorial Day. Spring break is something of an entitlement and will likely be spared. That's just my opinion.

Another old school issue has arisen this week. Former school superintendent Fredericka Hargis' lawsuit against the school board has been idle for almost two years. Now, school attorneys want it dismissed. Catch The Crittenden Press printed edition for all of the details on these and others happenings in your community.

Also, the Cave In Rock Ferry and River Road in Livingston remain closed due to high water

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ferry still idle

The Cave In Rock Ferry remains closed due to high water on the Ohio River.

The ferry connects Ky. 91 with Illinois Route 1. It crosses the Ohio River between Crittenden County, Ky., and Hardin County, Ill.

Heavy rains in the forecast for tonight across southern Illinois, southern Indiana and western Kentucky are likely to extend the amount of time the ferry is expected to remain closed due to high water.

Wild time in Atlanta

Good Monday morning from Marion, Ky.

This week we're working on a variety of news story for the printed edition of The Crittenden Press. One interesting piece will be our interviews with UK basketball fans who weathered the tornado last weekend at the Georgia Dome. The SEC Tournament is always well attended by local fans. We've caught up with Richard Cruce, Todd Riley and Ronnie Beavers, just a few who were at the tournament when it was halted due to a tornado. We'll have their photos and comments in this week's Press.

The NCAA Basketball Tournament starts this week. If you're interested, there is a good bracket and game at Yahoo Sports.

Also, this is meetings week. Marion City Council meets tonight at 6 p.m., Crittenden County Fiscal Court meets Tuesday morning at 9 a.m., and Crittenden County School Board meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday night. Additionally, Crittenden Health Systems is having its annual meeting at 6 p.m., Tuesday night at Fohs Hall. The Press will bring you first-hand coverage of all of these meetings.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Opening soon: Crittenden's log cabin

The Crittenden County Historic Museum and log cabin will open for the season on April 1.

Let's take a look at the log cabin, which is located on North College Street, just a block from the museum.

The museum is located in the former Marion Presbyterian Church on East Bellville Street.

Percy Cook, a local magistrate and member of the museum board of directors, gives us a little history about the little log cabin that is now a visitor attraction behind Fohs Hall.

2008 deer seasons

Many readers will be anxious to find out the following deer hunting dates for next fall. Plan your vacations now!

Archery season: Sept. 6-Jan. 19
Crossbow season: Oct. 1-19 and Nov. 8-Dec. 31
Early youth firearms hunt: Oct. 11-12
Early muzzleloader season: Oct. 18-19
Modern firearms: Nov. 8-23
Late muzzleloader season: Dec. 13-21
Free youth weekend hunt: Dec. 27-28.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Water over River Road

Water is over a small section of KY 137, also known as River Road, in Livingston County. Highway Department officials have put up signs on either end of the road, alerting motorists to the rising water. Right now, it is still passable, but based on Ohio River stage predictions, it is likely that River Road will be closed to through traffic at some point early Saturday.

The road will be closed near McGilligan Creek Bridge, also known as the Jackie Day Bridge, about halfway between U.S. 60 and Berry’s Ferry Landing.

Wednesday full day for students

Students in Crittenden County will be in school all day Wednesday, March 19, 2008. They were originally to be dismissed at lunch time for a teacher "collaboration day."

In making up for missed snow days, the Crittenden County School System has decided to make Wednesday a full day for students.

Amen to drug problems

The following letter has appeared on the Internet and has been viewed by many readers. It's worth repeating here, but I do not know the original source. My apologies for any infringement on the intellectual property of another, but without a source, I cannot provide proper attribution. Whoever wrote it, was right on track.

Here's the deal:
The other day, someone at a store in our town read that a methamphetamine lab had been found in an old farmhouse in the adjoining county and he asked me a rhetorical question, "Why didn't we have a drug problem when you and I were growing up?"

I replied, I had a drug problem when I was young. I was drug to church on Sunday mornings. I was drug to church for weddings and funerals. I was drug to family reunions and community gatherings no matter the weather or what else I had planned.

I was drug by my ears when I was disrespectful to adults. I was also drug to the woodshed when I disobeyed my parents, told a lie, brought home a bad report card, did not speak with respect, spoke ill of the teacher or the preacher, or if I didn't put forth my best effort in everything that was asked of me.

I was drug to the kitchen sink to have my mouth washed out with soap if I uttered a profanity. I was drug out to pull weeds in mom's garden and flower beds and cockleburs our of dad's fields. I was drug to the homes of family, friends and neighbors to help out some poor soul who had no one to mow the yard, repair the clothesline, or chop some firewood, and, if my mother had ever known that I took a single dime as a tip for such kindness, she would have drug me back to the woodshed.

Those drugs are still in my veins and they affect my behavior in everything I do, say, or think. They are stronger than cocaine, crack, or heroin. If today's children had this kind of drug problem, America would be a better place.

God bless the parents who drugged us.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cabin fever?

For those of you expecting our special Home & Garden section that was scheduled to appear in this week's printed edition of The Crittenden Press, fear not. The annual extra insert will be published next week instead.

Due to some scheduling conflicts and last-minute staff illness, we pushed it ahead seven days. It should be worth the wait, though. The inset photo is a little teaser for what's to come. This cabin, recently built by Michael and Missy Myers of Fords Ferry Road, was certainly a cozy hideaway during the recent snowstorms. We'll take you inside with next week's spring home section.

The Myerses let us come over for a look-see and we're featuring their home next week's edition.

Smoke on the horizon

If you notice the smell of smoke or a haze hovering over Crittenden County in the coming days it's because Land Between the Lakes is conducting a prescribed burn of nearly 400 acres. When the U.S. Forest Service has conducted similar burns in the past, we've noticed the haze and smell when the winds and other weather conditions have been just right.

The purpose of the controlled burn is to facilitate herbicide treatments to control non-native species. Today's burn will be in the area of Demumbers and Willow bays which are just upriver from Barkley Dam on the Cumberland River.

Cave-in-Rock ferry closed

The Cave-in-Rock ferry is closed due to high water on the Ohio River. It closed early this morning. The ferry connects Ky. 91 with Illinois Route 1. About 500 vehicles use the ferry each day crossing the river between Crittenden County, Ky., and Cave-in-Rock, Ill. It generally operates from 6 a.m., until 10 p.m., seven days a week.

The ferry is closed largely to due to the approach road on the Kentucky side being under water.

Cougars and Easter Bunnies

Paducah Sun outdoor writer Steve Vantreese has taken his shot now at the cougar hoaxes which ran wild on the Internet in recent weeks. Read his remarks here if you have a Paducah Sun online subscription.

Vantreese, who has long followed the cougar mystery in western Kentucky, wrote, "The photo misrepresentation of west Kentucky cougars is unfortunate fiction atop a long-running debate and consideration of whether there really are some mountain lions in this neck of the woods."

If there are legitimate folks with real cougar tales, those are now relegated to mere myth. Thanks to the wildcat fraud, potentially solid sightings will become as believable as the Easter Bunny. What's even more disheartening is some of the misrepresentation started right here in Crittenden County.

Remember, as an old fellow who used to hang around The Coffee Shop in Marion once told me, "It ain't true until I read it in The Press."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Late obituaries: Parris and Campbell

Shortly after the printed edition of The Crittenden Press was on the streets today, we received a couple of late obituaries, one from Boyd Funeral Home in Salem and the other from Evansville.

John Ruben Parris, 73, of Paducah died Tuesday, March 11 at his residence. Griveside services will be at 1 p.m., Sunday, March 16 with burial at Loveless Chapel Cemetery in Livingston County.

Kenneth Campbell, 65, of Evansville died Tuesday, March 11 at New Harmonie Healthcare Center. He was born Sept. 10, 1942, in Crittenden County. His funeral is at 2 p.m., Saturday at Alexander North Chapel with burial to be at Liberty Cemetery in Cynthiana.

A complete obituary will printed in next week's newspaper.

Neighborhood Watch

Here's an old-fashioned Neighborhood Watch with a high-tech twist.

John Walsh from America's Most Wanted has helped develop a Family Watch Dog Web site that allows you to type in your zip code or other geographical information to get a bird's eye view of the convicted criminals living nearby.

It's worth a look. Go to and put in your zip, city or state. A map will pop up showing where sex offenders and other criminals live in your community.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tax cigs to supplement fuel

Kentucky's House Revenue and Appropriations Committee voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to tack on another 25 cents to the price of a pack of cigarettes to boost the state's troubled budget. A pack of Malboros would cost $3.36 a pack if the measure is passed by the full House and later the Senate.

Gov. Beshear wanted to raise the cigarette tax by 70 cents. It's a shame he hasn't found enough support to get it done. How about going ahead and upping it the extra 45cents to supplement our fuel prices with the tobacco tax. Now that would suit me just fine.

Marion should take a bold step and become one of the smallest cities in Kentucky to ban smoking in public buildings. There are several restaurants in town where I seldom, if ever, go because of the smoke. And of course, that's my choice.

Another problem I have is watching kids climb out of a car where the parent, or whoever is driving, is pulling puffs off a cigarette. The kids don't have a choice.

More crazy cat stuff

Last week I wrote about the cougar hoax making its rounds on the Internet. Dozens of people sent me emails of the wildcat allegedly photographed near Mattoon. As I explained a week or so ago, those were not taken in Crittenden County.

Again, I have been bombarded this week with photos of a mountain lion allegedly killed near Cadiz. I have ignored this one – in light of the previous faux cat. WPSD-TV in Paducah, however, has taken up the mantle and shot down the recent madness. You can read about their pumping holes into the latest cougar story here.

For goodness sakes, let's quit promoting the craziness by moving these western wildcats across the Web and trying to pass them off as western Kentucky kitties!

A-gassed by prices

Aghast, the price of gasoline may go to $4 a gallon. Already, our nation's fuel prices have gone up more than 100 percent in the past couple of years. It's stifling commerce and spiking consumer credit to all-time highs.

Who do we have to thank for it? Partly the Chinese because their demand is increasing. Partly, we Americans who have failed to embrace alternative energy. But largely, OPEC is to blame. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries can stabilize, or destabilize, the world oil market. Here are the 13 countries that make up OPEC: Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. The cartel imposes its own output quotas to keep prices where they want them. Do you think any of hose countries are crying in their sweet crude because we Americans are in a pinch?

The motivation for those countries is partly their disdain for us. Our own corporate greed only adds to the consumer's woes.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Monday update

Starting off the work week, The Crittenden Press is tracking down information on a new story regarding vandalism at the high school late last week. Someone painted explicit messages on the school, gymnasium and even sprayed down some private vehicles parked nearby on Elm Street. Tipline is offering a $500 reward for a conviction of the persons responsible. Call 965-3000 to leave a tip and remain anonymous.

Got an update on Steffany Smith-Lester, the 21-year-old pregnant woman hurt in a Feb. 12 accident on the Ledbetter Bridge. Sheriff Wayne Agent, who is friends with the family, said he went to Vanderbilt Hospital last weekend to visit the young woman. She underwent hip surgery Sunday and remains in a coma. Her 16-week-old unborn child remains in pretty good condition. While Smith-Lester remains in very critical condition, there are some small signs of improvement.

Amy Hill-Tabor, the young woman from Marion seriously injured in an accident in Bowling Green a couple of weeks ago, has been moved from the hospital to a rehabilitation center in Marshall County. Her condition has not shown much improvement, however.

We were saddened by the death of Evan Shelby over the weekend. Shelby lived on the golf course and always surprised me how he could play golf with one hand. He had lost one of his hands in an accident years ago.

Stayed tuned for The Crittenden Press printed edition for an update on these and other stories.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Snowstick says 4

According to the trusty Farmers Bank blue ruler, we got four inches of snow overnight Friday. This morning's bright sunshine on the brilliantly white snow, make shades a necessity.

If you had more than four inches anywhere in Crittenden County, let us know. We'll report our findings later, either here or in The Crittenden Press printed edition. Email me at

Road conditions throughout the state can be found at by calling 511 in Kentucky or 1-866-737-3767 for out-of-state callers.

Former Murray State player charged

Nick Turner, who was an All-OVC football player at Murray State in 2005, has been charged with murder in DeKalb County, Georgia. Turner, 24, allegedly killed Dermonde Broadus "when a drug deal ... went bad," according to the Associated Press.

You can read the AP Story here, or go to the Murray State News and read about Turner when he played football there.

Turner was kicked off the team at Mississippi State before transferring to Murray State.

Friday, March 7, 2008

March madness

Try as we might, western Kentucky can't seem to shake Old Man Winter. He came pouring down on us again Friday, creating accidents and filling the grocery store lines with folks armed with gallons of milk and metric tons of bread.

Just before dark, our cameras caught Marion Marion Mickey Alexander closing down his investment firm and heading across town toward home. Howling winds and blowing snow will make this a nice night for a warm fire.

Wildcat country?

Kentucky is known for its Wildcats, but predominately those on the basketball court. Some think a new form of cat is moving into the area and the hysteria surrounding sightings of mountain lions has intensified in western Kentucky.

The recent photographs circulated around via email among many local residents were not taken in Crittenden County, according to a person as close to the original source as I can get. The photos were of a mountain lion in another state. Fish and wildlife folks have looked at the photos, too. They say it's a cub and therefore the photos had to have been taken in the fall, in a place were early snowfall is common. Cougars have their young in the spring and the one in the photo appears to be about 5-6 months old.

With that hoax cleared up, here's some cat food for thought. Cougars are indeed leaving their normal ranges out West and moving in this direction. The migration is well documented. USA Today recently published an article regarding mountain lions moving into the Midwest and South.

The real test locally will be when someone brings in a carcass in the bed of a pickup truck. Up to now, we don't have that. One Crittenden County resident has been proven to have a cougar hide which he says came from a cat harvested near Dycusburg several years ago. My attempts to interview the man in regard to the matter have been unsuccessful. Authorities say the cougar hide is authentic, but they are not sure of where it was killed, or purchased.

For now, Kentuckians are going to have to stick with Billy Clyde's 'Cats.

The inset photo is one of the pictures circulating across the Internet. I cannot tell you its origin, but I can, with a great deal of certainty, tell you that this cat was not in the commonwealth when it smiled for the camera. My apologies to the originator of this photo for not providing correct attribution. When I know who took it, I will share that with our readers.

Football Friday

It's Friday across Kentucky and that always means football in the fall. Now, in the closing days of winter, that again means football for many high schools (that are not out for snow). Spring practice started this week for most teams.

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association allows teams to practice football in the spring once basketball seasons for both girls and boys are over.

Football coaches have 15 school days from the end of basketball season to get in 10 football spring practice days.

Crittenden County started this week. Players were issued gear Tuesday and workouts began yesterday. The Rockets are without head coach Al Starnes right now, however. He had a third spinal surgery Monday. Everything went well and he's expected to be back on the field to some limited degree next week. In his absence, coach Vince Clark is at the helm. Coach Starnes has suffered from chronic back and neck pain for years, a least partly due to the licks he took while playing football at Murray State.

This year, Crittenden is expected to have a good season as most of its regulars return from last season's 4-7 squad. Despite a poor start last fall, the Rockets won 4 of their last 5 games and took Mayfield to the edge in the playoffs before losing by three points.

RB Jeramie Sorina, RB Rodney Robertson, LB Gaige Courtney and QB J.D. Gray will be the building blocks on which this year's team will be formed. They are all in camp this week and Sorina just finished a very successful outing at the Nike Camp in Georgia. He finished among the top 20 out of hundreds of potential college recruits.

The inset photo is of Sorina (4) and Gray (14) tracking down a Caldwell player last season.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

County passes insurance tax

The Crittenden County Fiscal Court approved the controversial insurance premium tax during its special meeting this morning.

Magistrates, however, amended the original proposal of a 4-percent tax before casting the favorable vote. The approved version levies a 2-percent tax on all insurance premiums, excluding health, life and worker's compensation. The amended version of the tax ordinance passed by a 5-1 margin with Magistrate Greg West casting the only dissenting vote.

About 40 people attended the meeting. The vote was taken after more than 2 hours of discussion on the issue.

Check out the video below that shows the voting process.

Thursday's not as blue

Here are a few of the things this country newspaper editor will be working on today.

1. The Crittenden County Fiscal Court meets at 9 a.m., to discuss, among other issues, a new insurance premium tax. The proposed tax has created a firestorm on controversy in the community. In less than 2 hours, we should know whether we're going to get it or not.

2. Marion Tourism Director Michele Edwards is collaborating with Eddyville tourism specialists on a new marketing campaign that targets summertime lake goers. "Barkley By Buggy" will focus on Henderson, Ky., and Evansville, Ind., tourists. It will encourage those heading to Barkley Lake to take the backroads on the way, check out the Crittenden County Amish community and invite them to stop in at Marion's antique shops. The plan will center on advertisements in movie theaters in the Evansville market. We'll have a story in next week's Press.

3. A group of people, here and elsewhere in the nation, are encouraging Americans to dress in Blue on Fridays as a show of support to our U.S. troops serving in the Middle East. Marty McKinney of Marion forwarded me an email late yesterday regarding the effort. So get Blue for Friday!

4. Next week, The Press is publishing its annual Home and Garden Special Section. Amid the valuable advertising messages, we will be including some local stories on area home builders and even tell you about the benefits of piers on your farm pond.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

To Iraq with love

Every few weeks I bump into Lee Gardella, whose son is serving in Iraq with the military. Gardella is a tireless supporter of her son and the other troops over there. She runs marathons to raise awareness for a war that many of us forget about during our daily lives. She also spends countless hours organizing, collecting and mailing materials to soldiers she's never met before.

Gardella gets a good bit of help from local individuals and businesses, but needs more. She's always looking for new things to send to the troops. She shared with me a letter she received back from a mail clerk in Iraq. He stressed to her how important those packages she sends nearly every week are to the men and women over there fighting a war that has become increasingly unpopular for most Americans.

Gardella could use your help and it won't take long. Just send her a letter that she can forward to the troops in Iraq. Something simple is fine. Thank them for the job they are doing over there. You can email your letter to her at

If you want to do more, she is constantly looking for items to send to the soldiers. They need sun screen, socks, DVDs, and non-perishable candy and snack items. She mails 2-4 large boxes a week to Iraq. Gardella even scavengers through CVS Pharmacy's trash for old magazines and sends them to the troops. CVS lets her have the outdated reading material after the front covers are torn off the magazines to make sure they're not used for resale anywhere.

Latest obituary

A clip from this week's obituaries in the printed edition of The Crittenden Press:

Old Man Winter died early Wednesday morning when 40-plus degree weather took its inevitable toll on Winter's last breath of snow.

Winter was preceded in death by Bradford Pear and Red Bud, but survived by Yellow Daffodil and Purple Tulip, both of whom will act as pallbearers.

Funeral services for Old Man Winter will be officially held on March 20 with Bro. Vernal Equinox officiating. Burial will be at the City of Marion Debris Field off Depot Street.

All joking aside, winter is surely gone, evidenced by the fact that last night's snow was no match for the Sun's early morning rays. Despite the fact that winter's grasp is loosening, there remain a few scars. Donnie Morgan Phillips told me yesterday that his company, Kentucky Utilities, is still reconnecting electricity at homes damaged by the ice storm three weeks ago. Those of course are anomalies, but nonetheless troublesome for those still living in the dark.

The inset picture was the last taken of Old Man Winter in 2008. Look closely and you will see three whitetailed deer in the frame.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ease up Mom!

Mother Nature continues delivering a taste of winter even though Spring is just around the corner. Another snowfall blankets Crittenden County tonight. The wintry white stuff started falling just before dark and now, at 7:30 p.m., is accumulating on the ground, contrary to predictions by our local TV weather forecasters.

Over the past year, Mother Nature has handed us a hard, late spring freeze, record heat, a bitter drought, the worst ice storm in decades and now she's topping us off with a March snowfall.

Come on Mom! We're ready for spring. The tulips are already poking up in the flower bed out front of The Press office and this morning I saw some green daffodil shoots shivering in the 20 mph, 32-degree winds. 

Come on Spring!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Suspect sought in teen picture case

Marion police are investigating a possible child pornography case. An arrest warrant for Billy Wayne Holland, 49, of 119 Old Salem Road was issued recently, but police have been unable to locate the suspect since they took several items from his home as evidence on Feb. 24. After reviewing the evidence, the arrest warrant was issued, but by then, police say, Holland had skipped town. 

Holland is charged with one count of possession of matter portraying sexual performance by a minor, allegedly a photograph of a partially naked teen. Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts should contact the Marion Police Department at 965-3500.

For more on this story, turn to The Crittenden Press printed edition which will be on newsstands Wednesday afternoon.

Hold the newspaper obituary

The new-wave media has been ringing the death-knell of newspapers for the last several years, but studies show that it would be very premature to write an obituary for community newspapers such as The Crittenden Press.

The National Newspaper Association recently completed its second readership survey in the past three years. What it found was that 83 percent of adults read community newspapers. Of those, 32 percent read daily. Forty-five percent read their hometown newspapers, 20 percent watch TV for local news and less than four percent turn to the Internet for local information.

Understand, too, that Internet readership is up. We are seeing that at The Press Online. According to the NNA survey, 76 percent of people with Internet service visited their local newspaper's Web site within the past week. However, only seven percent reported daily viewing of the newspaper online.

The strong readership numbers are in stark contrast to various sources that say newspapers are on their way out. Large dailies certainly may be in trouble within the near future, but the small, community-based newspapers are going to be here for a long time.

Eventually, we all will be holding a piece of paper embedded with nanotechnology-supplied microprocessors that will make the page light up like the screen of your computer. Don't laugh, such ink-based processors have already been developed. While they're not ready for the consumer yet, one day you can expect your newspaper to blink and bark just like some of the Web sites you visit.

For now though, be comforted in knowing that your community newspaper has a generation or two left in it.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Super searches

Crittenden and Livingston counties are each looking for a new school superintendent.

Crittenden County Supt. John Belt announced last week his intentions to retire this summer. Now, Livingston's Jack Monroe has delivered the same news to his board of education.

Crittenden County is already advertising for the position. A classified ad seeking candidates appeared in The Paducah Sun Saturday and it is being published elsewhere. Belt has been superintendent at Marion for three years and has provided a calming presence following a stormy few years under former Supt. Fredericka Hargis. By the way, there has been absolutely no recent movement in the defamation lawsuit Hargis filed against several people in the community.

In Livingston, Monroe has been superintendent for the past three years after serving in that school system for the previous 30. He's held various positions within the system, including director of transportation and principal at a couple of the county's schools. The inset photograph is of Monroe.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Bloggin' up a storm

For the past four or five weeks since we started this blog, the feedback has been incredible. Thanks to everyone who is reading. Because it has been widely embraced, The Press Online has added a new blogger who is one of the printed edition's most popular columnists, Brenda Underdown.

Underdown is the official Crittenden County historian and she will be writing a supplemental piece on the Web which will often tell a little more about her research and writings. You can find her at

Additionally, Matthew T. Patton is writing a regular blog which can be found on his Web site Patton is periodic contributor to The Crittenden Press. He is a Dycusburg native transplanted in Pennsylvania where he is in the publishing business. His blog focuses largely on area genealogy.

Finally, Brenda Joyce Jerome, a certified genealogist whose work has focused on Western Kentucky, maintains a blog at She has posted many interesting tidbits about ours and neighboring counties since she began her blog.