Archive for February, 2009

When the picture tells the story

hunt-memorialThis morning I got an e-mail from a professional photographer about the photo that accompanied my story today about Clark Circuit Clerk David Hunt’s memorial Saturday. He said it was a good example that proves the adage that sometimes a picture truly is worth “a thousand words.”

The picture showed David’s top hat, which he wore when he performed concerts, hanging on a microphone boom above his Hammond organ on the stage at Calvary Christian Church. As it turned out, that’s the only picture I was going to be able to get anyway.

Here’s the story behind the picture. I called Scobee Funeral Home Friday to find out whether David’s family would want us to cover the “celebration of life” service Saturday. Fred Pace talked with David’s sister, Lisa, who said we could cover it under two conditions: one that the story about the service “glorify God,” and two, that we talk with David’s widow, Mary Jo, before the service.

The day of the memorial, I thought I had given myself enough time to talk with David’s wife, but there was heavy traffic through Holiday Hills because of the service, and it was moving slowly. When I finally got to the church about a quarter till 1, its parking lot and the lot at another church nearby were full, and I had to park at the office complex near the Bypass and wait on a shuttle.

When I got to the church, I told the ushers I needed to speak with Mrs. Hunt, but the family members were gathered in a private room prior to the service.

Without the family’s permission, I didn’t want to be moving around taking pictures, and the camera I was using had only a short zoom lens, so I couldn’t really shoot anything from my seat, and didn’t want to use the flash.

But throughout the service, I kept looking at the top hat and thinking what a poignant symbol it was of David’s life. Then it occurred to me: That’s the picture!

After the service was over, I stayed behind and took several close-up photos of the hat and organ using the flash. It worked. I think the picture set the right tone: solemn and respectful, but a reminder of David’s sense of humor and love of a good time. I think it better illustrated the story than anything else I could have photographed that day.

David Hunt: 'Love everybody'

david-huntIf courage is, as Hemingway described it, “grace under pressure,” then David Hunt exemplified that quality.

David passed away this afternoon after a long fight against the cancer that finally claimed his life. Scobee Funeral Home confirmed it a little after 2 p.m. today after some of us noticed Facebook messages from grieving friends.

When I moved back to Winchester just over three years ago, David stopped by to see me here at the Sun, and he was just as outgoing and cheerful as I remember him being when we were kids. I didn’t know at that time he was fighting for his life. You sure couldn’t tell by his attitude.

I didn’t know David as well as most people here did. We weren’t close when we were young, and I had been away from Winchester for many years. But he had a way of making those around him feel welcome, and feel good.

“Everybody was his best friend,” said Paula Joslin, a longtime coworker, on the night last September that the David N. Hunt Gymnasium was dedicated at the Victory Heights Center for Achievement — a program David had supported. The surprise party for him at the gym was a roast, and he got some great laughs out of it. And a few tears.

Judge Jeff Walson, with whom he had been friends since grade school, had written a song about him called “The Day My Best Friend Lived.”

That’s how David Hunt would want to be remembered on this day. One of the rules he tried to live by, friends said, was to “love everybody.

Maybe that’s why everybody loved him.

Video of Stream Saver rally posted

Reporter and videographer Mike Wynn has posted a video of the I Love Mountains rally in Frankfort, where demonstrators marched in support of the Stream Saver Bill sponsored by Rep. Don Pasley, D-Winchester.

The Stream Saver legislation would prohibit certain practices associated with mountain-top removal mining that pollute streams by disposing of dirt and rock from mining operations in nearby tributaries.

The video is at www.winchestersun.com. Wynn’s story of the rally is also available on the Web site.

Also, regarding new features on our Web site, photographer James Mann has posted a slide show of the Clark County Lady Cardinals Senior Night game. Readers may purchase the pictures from our Web site through MyCapture.com, as well as other recent photos and some archive pictures from 2008.

Love or duty?

Mayor Ed Burtner makes a good point when he says that if there were a central community online calendar, it would reduce scheduling conflicts. Of course, The Winchester Sun already has an easy-to-use calendar at www.winchestersun.com, and those who work for the schools, city government and other entities are welcome to use it.

But it isn’t really helpful to publicly criticize others — even in a joking way — for scheduling conflicts, as the mayor did when he took a light-hearted jab at Winchester First Director Lara Thornbury for having the Wine About Winter event on Thursday night, the same night as the first Community Action Plan Forum.

After all, Mayor Burtner and others scheduled the second Community Action Plan forum for Valentine’s Day, which has been “on the calendar” for centuries.

While many Clark Countians are civic-minded and would like to be involved in discussions of public issues, most would rather spend that day with their spouse or family.

We all need to be better about avoiding scheduling conflicts, but in our busy lifestyles, it sometimes happens.

Kentucky's tax system is outdated

I was beginning to wonder if anyone was reading Newer World because I wasn’t getting many comments. But that changed with my most recent post, “Whiskey makers and hell raisers.”

Jon Tuttle called me a loudmouth, a liberal pig and a Communist, and said I was part of “what’s wrong with America.” Apparently, he thought I was in favor of applying the 6 percent sales tax to liquor, when what I actually said was that the legislature should not tax alcohol, but have a higher tax on cigarettes instead. Currently, Kentucky taxes liquor at the wholesale level, and the tax is too high — which I also said in my column. Mr. Tuttle and I are both arguing the same position.

Both he and “Paul” suggested that the state tax newspapers. But the state already does. When you buy a newspaper, you pay the 6 percent sales tax. I don’t have a problem with that. Most manufactured things in Kentucky are taxed when their sold. Groceries and medicine are not. I don’t know whether racehorses are, which was another of Paul’s suggestons.

A more radical idea would be to apply the sales tax to services — including newspaper advertising. The Lexington Herald-Leader actually proposed doing that in an editorial several years ago. While I wouldn’t favor a selective tax on advertising, I do think we need to look at comprehensive tax reform in Kentucky that takes into consideration that we are now a service economy. It isn’t fair that goods have to bear all the tax burden but that services are largely exempt. Perhaps if it were applied more equitably, we could lower the sales tax and still take in more revenue.

Whiskey makers and hell raisers

french-bourbonAnybody with any sense knows you don’t want to mess with somebody who likes to drink whiskey, but it turns out the people who make the stuff can be scrappers too.

Yesterday Kentucky’s bourbon distillers turned out in force in Frankfort to protest the legislature’s proposed 6-cent sales tax on booze. In a demonstration reminiscent of the Boston Tea Party that ignited the American Revolution, the protestors dumped bourbon whiskey on the front steps of the Capitol — a revolting act if ever there was one.

Said Jimmy Russell, master distiller for Wild Turkey, who was quoted by the Associated Press today, “They’ve always been taxing us to death over the years.”

While beer and bourbon trucks circled the Capitol, other folks crowded into the Rotunda to holler and wave signs.

The “water of life” is important to Kentucky’s economy. Kentuckians invented bourbon, and most true bourbon is made here. And it is heavily taxed in this state. But Kentucky faces a $456 million revenue shortfall, and yesterday the House A&R Committee approved a plan to double the cigarette tax from 30 to 60 cents a pack and add the 6-cent sales tax to retail liquor, wine and beer to help erase the deficit.

What they should have done is left bourbon alone and raised the tobacco tax to at least a dollar a pack. But then smokers would probably be emptying their ash trays on the Capitol lawn.

I can understand the opposition to higher “sin taxes,” but it’s better than raising the income or property tax, or the sales tax on necessities. And it’s also better than escalating tuition for strapped college students, losing matching federal funds for children’s health insurance or closing all the rest areas on the interstates. We’ve gone way beyond cutting fat in the state budget in recent years. We’re now shaving bones.

If only Kentuckians could get as worked up about hungry elderly people and homeless children as they do about taxes, this state would be a better place.

I suppose if lawmakers have learned anything from this, it’s that you had better think twice before you pick a fight with a Wild Turkey.

The real guitar heroes

guitarmakerIt’s one of Winchester’s best-kept secrets among locals, but some of the world’s best rock musicians know about Guitarworks. Joe Walsh, Elliot Easton of The Cars and Joe Perry of Aerosmith are just some of the famous customers of Roy Bowen and Scott Leedy.

If you missed reporter Mike Wynn’s Saturday feature, “The Real Guitar Heroes,” you can still read it on our Web site at www.winchestersun.com. Just go to our archive search window and type in “guitar.” And while you’re at it, watch the great video Mike made during his visit.

And if you want to see more, check out the fine photographs James Mann took at the guitar shop. The slide show is near the bottom of our home page, and you can purchase the photos through MyCapture.

This is a good example of how The Winchester Sun’s reporting of the news isn’t just ink on paper anymore. Print is still an important part of what we do, but it isn’t the only thing we do.

Clark County's online calendar

Reporter Mike Wynn, photographer James Mann and I just returned from a meeting at the Clark County Public Library about how to improve online communications in Winchester. Library Director Julie Maruskin gave a good presentation on what makes a good Web site, a good blog, etc.

One of Mayor Ed Burtner’s suggestions was that there be a central online calendar that everyone can use to aggregate information from other Web sites. The way I see it, we at the Sun already have that, but we don’t have the staff time to search every calendar out there and pull in all that information. It is, for the most part, user generated.

For example, if someone in the school system posts a site-based council meeting or band boosters meeting on the school calendar, it would take only a minute to also post that same information on the Sun’s calendar.

The tool exists already for a comprehensive community calendar, but I admit we haven’t promoted it well enough, and we should at least include all the items we receive for our print calendars in the online calendar as well.

Maybe I’m missing something, and if so, I’d appreciate any suggestions you might have. But I would also encourage everybody to use our Web site and its calendar. It’s at www.winchestersun.com

Newspapers fight back

Today the Sun published an Associated Press story about the Newspaper Project, a campaign to fight negative perceptions of the industry and the “doom and gloom” reports of newspapers’ demise.

One advertisement noted that 100 million people read newspapers the day after the Super Bowl — more than watched the game.

I found the following comments particularly interesting and would like to start a discussion about them.

Industry analyst Ken Doctor (formerly of Knight Ridder) said: “By 2009, I would have hoped editors would have realized this is not about the paper, it’s about the news. The business model is just busted.”

And Donna Barrett, one of the leaders of the project, said, “The crisis has to do with revenue, not with audience.”

That’s something I’ve been saying for some time: Don’t blame it on the newsrooms. There are more people reading newspapers than when I was a journaliism student 25 years ago. We just haven’t figured out how to make enough money from the new ways of doing journalism.

What do you think?

You can read about the project at http://news.newspaperproject.org

Reporting on the ice storm

The Winchester Sun now has a Facebook page. The following is something I started on its discussion board on Jan. 29. Feel free to join in.

The effort our staff put into covering the winter storm yesterday reminded me of why Schurz Communications’ four Kentucky papers were recently judged as among the best in the state in the KPA contest.

Despite widespread power outages in Danville and Nicholasville and not having e-mail or AP wire service here at the Sun, the staffs of the (Danville) Advocate-Messenger, The Jessamine Journal, the (Stanford) Interior Journal and The Winchester Sun did a great job getting the news out to our readers on the Web and even in print.

Danville was pretty much shut down by the storm, but the Advocate-Messenger and The Jessamine Journal both printed four-page broadsheet editions packed full of news about the weather emergency, which the Sun’s pressmen printed, and Brittany Griffin at the Sun helped the other SCI papers update their Web sites early in the morning.

Sun production supervisor Bob Martin and his crew, and our news and production staffs deserve a lot of credit for producing a good product under the challenging conditions, and that goes for the other papers’ employees as well, who had it even tougher than we did.

Post #2
Renee E. Bush wroteon January 29, 2009 at 2:17pm
I thought so, too! :-) And said so, yesterday. And say it again, today!
Post #3
Thomas L. Hall replied to your poston January 31, 2009 at 4:03pm
Hello Randy, I am at the Holiday inn express, no electricity now for 5 days! This is an unexpected hotel stay, not near as fun as going on vacation! See my site for some not so nice storm pictures! Thanks for your coverage in the storm. Maybe next week would be a good time for those “still” out of power!Tom Hall
Post #4
You wroteon February 2, 2009 at 5:47am
We’re working on a story today on when parts of the county without power might be back on. My parents, who live near Pine Grove, were told they would be among the last because there are no public facilities on those lines, but last night, my father spoke with Clark Energy workers who were working on lines on Venable Road, and they said they might get it back on before this morning.
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