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Commentary on Life in Kentucky

By wmadministrator

Big Star, Big Heart
Count country music star Vince Gill among the white hats in the world. He came to Campbellsville in late March, played a free concert and gave generously of himself in a fundraising effort that produced $40,000 for Campbellsville University athletics.

The Baptist school’s More Than a Game campaign is raising money to put synthetic turf and lights on its football field and lights in the baseball stadium. When someone suggested that because they play golf with Gill they thought they could get him to come to a fundraiser, CU athletics officials said, well, go ahead and ask. Quickly, however, came a response suggesting three possible dates he could do a show.

Gill came to town March 27. Prior to the concert, he was the dinner guest of Campbellsville President Dr. Michael V. Carter at the president’s home on campus. Then, accompanied by a keyboardist, Gill played acoustic guitar and sang for a sold-out crowd in the school’s Ransdell Chapel. For the last section of the show, he took requests from the audience.

Give some credit to Steve Finley, nephew of Campbellsville football patriarch Ron Finley and a golfing buddy of Gill’s. Finley said he asked the favor more for CU’s future athletes than its past ties – mainly freshman football player Westley Cadena, whom Finley has mentored since age 6.

“His performance was terrific and his love to help others comes through with such sincerity,” Carter said.

Gill has sold 26 million albums, earned 18 CMA Awards, including Entertainer of the Year in 1993 and 1994, and has received 19 Grammy Awards. Besides being known as a performer, musician and songwriter, Gill is regarded as one of country music’s best-known humanitarians, participating in hundreds of charitable events throughout his career.

“I love my friends, and I tell you, nine times out of 10 when you do some kind of a charitable thing, you’re reacting to someone else’s passion. It just makes sense to help somebody else out,” Gill said in Campbellsville. “Plus, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Kentucky. When I moved away from home at 18, this was my home. I really love the state.”
Thanks, Vince, and amen to that.

Lexington’s New Landmark
Mid-April saw the opening of a 5,700-s.f. glass structure, the Fifth Third Bank Pavilion in Cheapside Park in downtown Lexington. “This building is a public-private partnership in the truest sense,” said Mayor Jim Newberry, thanking Fifth Third, which donated $750,000 to the Downtown Lexington Corp. Foundation to build the facility, and other businesses that donated to the construction of the pavilion and reconstruction of Cheapside Park, including Big Ass Fans, Henkel-Denmark and Environmental Landscape. The metal-roofed pavilion is the new home for the Saturday downtown farmers market. The structure sits on granite pavers, but permeable pavers in the park allow water to pass through, decreasing storm-water run-off.

To Serve and Protect
Lexingon Police Officer Bryan J. Durman, 27, was killed in a hit and run on April 29 as he performed his duties, the first death in the line of duty in more than 20 years in Lexington. Durman’s funeral took place May 4. There was a solemn and overwhelming outpouring of support from and for the law enforcement community of our state.

A procession of more than 600 law enforcement vehicles from dozens of cities and counties across Kentucky, and even a few from Tennessee and Indiana, participated. It took some 45 minutes for the procession to pass through downtown Lexington, where a giant flag was suspended over Main Street. Thousands of area residents silently lined the route, some holding American flags.

Law enforcement officers don’t always get their due. Their presence usually means something wrong did or might happen. But they are the point of the sword for the rule of law that binds our society together. Their job is vital to our quality of life. And lamentably, officers sometimes lay down their lives for us.
Thank you, gentlemen and ladies, for your service to our communities and commonwealth.

Kentucky Chamber Opens ‘Front Door to Frankfort’
Kentucky Chamber of Commerce leaders, Gov. Steve Beshear and more than 100 Kentucky business leaders gathered April 20 for the dedication of the chamber’s newly renovated and expanded building, which is being callled the business community’s “front door to Frankfort.”

Donations and sponsorships from members paid for most of the $3.2 million project, which increased space by 70 percent to 17,000 s.f. Kentucky companies and chamber members did most of work. The AT&T Videoconferencing Center links it to every state university and community and technical college, every health department and some school systems. The building features pieces commissioned by Kentucky artists.

“We were glad to provide Kentucky business with an opportunity to work on this project during these tough economic times,” said Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson.

“We hope that the Kentucky Chamber’s new headquarters here in Frankfort reflects our optimism and bold direction, and will serve as a symbol of a bright future for Kentucky’s business community,” said 2010 Chairman Bill Jones, of U.S. Bank.

A Lesson in Corporate Giving
Toyota USA Foundation is giving a $500,000 grant to a University of Kentucky program to help K-12 teachers continue to develop more effective methods of teaching math and science. This act of savvy good corporate citizenship will expand a successful science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education effort developed by UK’s Appalachian Math and Science Partnership.
There is a need in the state to improve educational attainment, which lags especially in portions of Appalachia. Education is proven to be the tide that lifts all boats. Better-educated workers make more money, achieve business success, boost the economy and improve the quality of life not just for themselves but everyone.

And some of those better-educated Kentuckians will end up either as productive Toyota team members or as buyers of Camrys, Avalons and Venzas.
Because of the Toyota USA Foundation grant, teacher-driven teams in 13 Central and Northern Kentucky school districts will develop local strategies to improve student learning in mathematics or science programs with help from university faculty through the UK Partnership Institute for Mathematics and Science Education Reform (PIMSER) program.

“We look forward to their successful mission to enhance the teacher-student experience,” said Steve St. Angelo, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky.

PIMSER’s Partnership Enhancement Project will provide planning and training to teachers to help determine their students’ specific mathematics and science needs. Math and science professors at UK and several other colleges and universities then will use research-based strategies to provide intervention plans for those specific needs.

PIMSER is an outgrowth of a National Science Foundation grant to UK that established the Appalachian Math and Science Partnership program to help K-12 math and science teachers develop innovative and more effective teaching methods in rural school districts. Some of the teaching methods were so successful UK professors integrated them into their classrooms.

The original $24 million NSF grant has expired, but UK is continuing to expand the program through private foundation and corporate grants.

Perhaps a few other Kentucky business entities will see the wisdom of Toyota USA Foundation’s strategy and follow its example?

A Yummy Marketing Idea
April was a great month for Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM). The decision of the world’s largest food service corporation to invest $13.5 million for the 10-year right to name the new 721,000-s.f. Louisville arena – the KFC Yum! Center – was a smart, long-term marketing decision and a big boost for greater Louisville, the Louisville Arena Authority, and Kentucky.

Yum’s recent decision is very compatible with its decision to become the presenting sponsor of the Kentucky Derby in 2006. Yum’s marketing strategy promotes its corporate name to investors and its 34,000+ restaurants in more than 100 countries and territories around the globe.

Yum’s major brands include KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver’s and A&W. In recent years, Yum has been building more than 1,000 new restaurants annually.

Your Bridge Is Missing
A couple of readers e-mailed last month to report a missing bridge. Our cover story on the impact of Kentucky’s bridges on the national logistics system included a list of 24 Kentucky bridges that cross the Ohio River.

There are, however, 25 such bridges. The one not in our list was the Simon Minton Bridge, the busy Interstate 64 crossing from west Louisville to New Albany, Ind.

And while we’re filling in the blanks, officials at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Bullitt County reached out to our editors to suggest their lovely locale could have been included in our April Lane List, which was Top Tourist Destinations in Kentucky. They had 176,000 visitors in 2009, which was indeed plenty enough to have made the list.

Bernheim, located just east of I-65 off KY 245, has been a bit of a well-kept secret, officials there say, but they’re working to change that. Find out more about this gem at bernheim.org.