Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Kentucky Legislators Agree to One Year Budget

It is 7:28 CST and the word out of Frankfort is that legislative leaders have agreed to a one year budget. It is my understanding that nobody got everything they wanted. Compromise being the key word here. I also hear that the Governor may very well veto certain portions and is none too happy about certain programs that are near and dear to him being axed. I guess we will all get the details in a few hours.

Robert Penn Warren: Interview With Justice Bill Cunningham

What makes a good story? For me it is one that begets many more. Tomorrow, Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham & Governor Beshear will be in Todd County to dedicate the new signs which promote the childhood home of Robert Penn Warren.

The Warren house is in the small town of Guthrie, KY which sits along the Kentucky-Tennessee line south of Elkton. It's not an easy find even if your looking for it. I have travelled to Guthrie many times and have gotten turned around. Tiny Town which sits down the road is an intersection of Highways 41,79, and 181. I can remember a few years ago I had to fill the pulpit at Gurthie & Elkton Christian Church and bout not made it.

Robert Penn Warren was America's first poet laureate and that should be a big deal to Kentuckians. He was from Guthrie by the way not Louisville or Lexington. (Sorry, could not help myself). I asked Justice Cunningham to share with me some of his thoughts about the subject and he seemed to feel strongly that the missed storyline is about the community of Guthrie. " I can't wait to be there", said Justice Cunningham who spoke of how this small community non-profit organization has worked tirelessly to preserve the Warren home and legacy. "They have struggled, preserved it and restored it on a tight budget," said Cunningham. At one time there was consideration to moving the house to Western Kentucky University Cunningham pointed out. We talked about how we (the communities)had to give something up for the sake of progress with the new four lane 68/80. We both agreed that something was lost now since the road bypasses all the small towns between Hopkinsville and Bowling Green. Cunningham commented, "I really appreciate being able to get to Bowling Green faster but I miss the history and beautiful scenery driving through places like Fairview, Elkton, Auburn.We need to get people off the highways and I think this signage will help."

In 1965 Robert Penn Warren conducted numerous reel-to-reel interviews for his book Who Speaks for the Negro? My research for this post led me to an article from the Fall 2008 Edition of "arts AND SCIENCE", the magazine for Vanderbilt University's College of Arts and Science. The article written by Sandy Smith tells the story of how Mona Fredrick and Sarah Nobles found the semi-lost reel-to-reel interviews by Robert Penn Warren. Smith shares with us how Fredrick, the executive director of the RPW Center for Humanities and staff associate Sarah Nobles track down these interviews. The Journey led them to the library at Yale University where they found some of them. They had apparently never been catalogued. The remaining interviews were found at the University of Kentucky. Neither school knew what they had in their possession. The article is a good read and I would suggest it. The great thing is that Fredrick and Nobles were able to reunite the collection and move it all to digital recordings.

Robert Penn Warren had collected and what is now considered a treasure chest of interviews with civil rights leaders and activist. This list includes interviews with Stokley Carmichael, Charles Evers, Vernon E. Jordan, Jr, Martin Luther King Jr., Adam Clayton Powell Jr, Carl T. Rowan, Malcolm X, Andrew Young and many more.

Link to listen to Robert Penn Warren interviews- http://whospeaks.library.vanderbilt.edu/

This archival collection is available to listen to for free. I have included a link. I want to thank Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham for sharing some time with me. Justice Cunningham has written a number of books about places and events in Western Kentucky and I have included a link to his website. A good story leads to many more and this one did for me. I did not share everything but I believe if you take some time to follow the bread crumbs I have left for you then you will be rewarded with more stories not yet told.
Link to Justice Bill Cunningham- http://www.billcunninghamonline.com/

Monday, March 29, 2010

Governor Beshear Loses Friend and Business Associate

I was saddened to hear of the death of Paul K. Tuner of Hopkinsville. Paul was known for having a sharp legal mind and a quiet demeanor. Most folks, even in Christian County, didn't know that Paul Turner was one of Governor Steve Beshears closet friends. Both were raised in Dawson Springs and it is common knowledge that both shared success as associates in the banking business.

Judge Turner had served as a former City Judge and Circuit Judge for Hopkinsville and Christian County. A graduate of the University of Kentucky, Judge Turner had also served in the U.S. Army.

The Turner family were neighbors for much of my life. Paul was the last of the Judges to resided on Sunset Circle. I grew up on North Sunset and the Turners lived on South Sunset. Just about all the old families are gone now from the Sunset subdivision which I believe started about 1960. It was a neat place to grow up. We were only a couple hundred yards from Hopkinsville High and Middle School. As a teenager our neighborhood provided for all our needs. Judge Soyars was Circuit Judge and lived next door. Judge Ruff was District Judge and lived a few doors up. Mr. Cavanaugh owned the Miller beer distributorship and he lived three doors up. Mr. Meece owned the Dairy Queen and he lived behind us. General Lindsey Freeman owned a fur shop and there was always something cool to find in his garage. The good General was also known to have a few cases of Coors beer around back before it was available to folks outside Colorado. By my count their are only four families who remain from the 60s.

Judge Turner's visitation is tonight and most expect the Governor to pay his respects. My thoughts and sympathy go out to the Turner Family.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Conway Getting Out of Race: Rumor or Fact?

In the midst of the South Eastern Conference Basketball Tournament comes the word that Jack Conway may be getting out of the U.S. Senate race in Kentucky. This may be a rumor but in fact, it could be the case. Conway fared very poorly in just about every category in the USA Poll that was released last week.

I admit that it crossed my mind a few weeks ago that Conway might withdraw and instead seek the nomination for Governor next year. Not the best time to be an incumbent or a Democrat running for a seat in Washington. Incumbent Governor Steve Beshear has alienated most of Rural Kentucky and if you pair Conway with a popular figure from Western Kentucky then you might have one hell of a Primary next year.

I guess we will just have to see how all this shakes out.