Eastern Kentucky archers on target

By Taylor Moak
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Local archers hit their targets Sunday as East Kentucky Archery opened its 2013 season. The shoot, at the East Kentucky Archery Range near Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, was the first of 21 scheduled meets for the season.

Archery is “a really good family sport,” because it allows moms, dads and children to all get outside together, said Eric Hall, Floyd County district judge and club secretary.

Chase Conley, a fourth grader at Duff Elementary, came to Sunday’s shoot with his grandfather. Chase, 9, said he has been shooting at East Kentucky Archery for two years.

Chase’s grandfather, Doc Goble, carried Chase’s arrows and offered advice — “Take your time” — and encouragement — “Good shooting, buddy.”

The club offers opportunities for the novice and experienced archer. “All skill levels have the ability to shoot,” Hall said. The range offers six shooting categories, including women’s, hunter, advance hunter and future bowhunters, for children 8 and under, club President Billy Joe Hamilton said.

East Kentucky Archery, which was started in the mid-1980s, claims more than 100 members. In the past four to five years, Hall said in a telephone interview, more women have joined. Hall said “the biggest part” of the club’s shooters come from Floyd County, because of proximity to the range, but regular shooters for meets come from surrounding counties, most within an hour-and-a-half drive.

East Kentucky Archery has the only 3-D range in the area, he said, with the next closest ranges being in Carter and Boyd counties. A 3-D course can be over different terrains, making it more difficult for archers to guess the yardage to a target.

Saturday’s meet was a 3-D shoot, with participants taking shots at 30 targets from unknown distances, up and down hills and over valleys, which Hall said is “the real fun part of 3-D archery.”

Members said the turnout early Sunday was lower than expected, but the club ended up having around 50 shooters participate in the meet, Hall said. “As weather continues to moderate into spring, the numbers will grow,” Hall said. “They kind of always do.”

In a meet, each archer gets one shot at each target. All participants shoot at the same targets, except one, where archers shoot from a tree stand at one of two different animals, depending on the shooter’s division.

The 3-D course is separated into two sides, with 15 targets on each side. The targets are made from a high-density foam and come in different animal shapes, including deer, bears and dinosaurs. An arrow to any part of a target earns the archer five points, Hamilton said, and a shot to the vitals earns eight, 10 or 11 points, depending on how direct the shot is. A perfect score is considered to be 300 points, Hall said, but theoretically an archer could get a 330, if he or she hit the center of the vitals on each target.

Chase Conley shot 139 points out of 150 from his compound bow on the first half of the course. He did not shoot the vitals of every target. “I’ll get an eight, then I’ll get an 11, then I’ll get an eight, then I’ll get an 11,” he said.

Participants shoot different kinds of bows, including traditional bows and compound bows, depending on the category they enter. Traditional bows have a curved back and a string and are non-mechanical, Hall said. Compound bows have mechanical devices, including wheels that act like pulleys, to help an archer pull the string back, he said, and are generally more powerful than traditional bows. Hamilton said. East Kentucky Archery has Genesis bows, the type used by the National Archery in Schools Program, for kids who just want to come out and shoot.

Sunday’s shoot cost $10 for members and $20 for non-members. Kids 15 years and younger could shoot for free, as well as kids who participate in the National Archery in Schools Program, in which several local schools participate, Hall said. Club members are also willing to advise people who may not be sure about archery or what equipment to buy, he said.

Contact information for the club’s board of directors is available on its website, and Hall said people who want to learn more about archery can contact one of the members to learn more about the sport. “If somebody brand-new to archery would like to try this sport without making a big investment, either to money or time, there’s somebody here to help out,” he said.

Hall said in the 12 or 13 years East Kentucky Archery has had its current range, there has only been one serious accident, and that was caused by an equipment malfunction.

Archery is an individual sport, Hall said, and an individual competes against his or her own abilities more than against other archers.

East Kentucky Archery will host shoots most weekends now until August, when hunting season begins, Hall said. The club misses a few weekends for holidays. Deer bowhunting season begins the first Saturday in September, he said, so a 3-D range’s season allows hunters to prepare for real hunting because their muscles stay tuned up and they are able to judge yardages.

The range is also open during the week for people who can’t make weekend shoots, he said. To shoot at the range’s practice targets cost nothing, Hall said, and archers can shoot on the 3-D range during the week for $5. The club operates on an honor system to collect the money from people who shoot the range during the week, Hall said. The range made about $2,000 last year from the self-pay box.

The club will host the International Bowhunting Organization state championship and world qualifier March 23 and 24, and members who participated in eight or more East Kentucky Archery shoots will be eligible to compete in the club championship, which will be held Aug. 11, Hall said.

East Kentucky Archery’s next meet will be held Sunday. Registration will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Scorecards must be in by 5 p.m.

Winners from Sunday’s shoot: Hunter Class, 1st place: Johnny Smith, 298; 2nd place: Doc Goble, 293. Advance Hunter, 1st place: Randy Newsome, 293; 2nd place: Farley Joseph, 282. Traditional Class, 1st place: Barbara McIntosh, 245.  Open Class, 1st place: Michael Harris, 290; 2nd place (tie): Randy Hansford and Reggie Evans, 272.  Ladies Class, 1st place: Christy Branham, 295.  Youth Traditional, 1st place: Ryan Branham, 124;  Female Youth, 1st place: Brittany Thacker, 266.  Future Bowhunters, 1st place: Chase Conley, 266.

Tiny town's vote for fairness ordinance shouldn't be so surprising

By Ivy Brashear
Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues

The city council of Vicco, Ky., passed a fairness ordinance earlier this month with little local fanfare. There were no protests, no letters to the editor in the local newspaper, The Hazard Herald, no Westboro Baptist Church members holding offensive signs on Vicco’s one street corner.

The council passed this law the same way it approves the city budget: routinely.

Since then, Vicco has skyrocketed into the national lexicon. Mentions of the so-called "little town that refuses to die" have been published in such places as the Huffington Post and The New York Times, and all the stories have a central refrain in common: Everyone seems so pleasantly flabbergasted.

How could Vicco, a small Perry County hamlet named for the coal company that used to own it, with a population smaller than the enrollment at the county high school, be advanced enough to pass a fairness ordinance banning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people?

Other Kentucky cities far larger and with far more diversity than Vicco have fought about, and failed to pass, similar ordinances. How is it that those cities couldn’t bring themselves to do what Vicco has so easily done: extend equality to all?

I grew up about eight miles from Vicco in another small, mountain community: Viper. Similar to Vicco, not many people come to Viper unless they have a reason. But unlike Viper, Vicco does have a city council, a main street, a yearly festival and an annual Fourth of July celebration, the latter of which adds hundreds of people to the town’s population of fewer than 400. Vicco clings to a bygone era when one-street coal towns dotted all of Eastern Kentucky. Almost all Vicco's coal has been mined, and the company that once owned the town has long been defunct. The storefronts are almost all bare, but Vicco remains, alive and well.
I was also an "out" lesbian during my teenage years, and I know what it’s like to be discriminated against in the mountains for the very thing Vicco’s ordinance aims to stop. I know the importance of a fairness ordinance in Eastern Kentucky, because I lived through a time without such laws.

When I read the news that Vicco had passed its ordinance, I was surprised, but not because I never thought I’d see the day when such a law was passed in Eastern Kentucky. I was surprised simply because I hadn’t heard a single word about the city voting on this issue until they had actually done it.

In contrast, when the Berea City Council, on the edge of Appalachian Kentucky, was deciding the fate of a similar proposal, discussion about it was in the news for weeks before the actual vote. The same is true for nearby Richmond, and for Elizabethtown in Central Kentucky. Vicco had been able to accomplish what those cities could not, with only one dissenting vote.

The Vicco City Council was likely able to routinely pass its fairness ordinance with no resistance because of the town’s size. Rural communities are often categorized as places where everyone knows everyone else, and in Vicco, that axiom is actually true. Knowing your neighbors on a first-name-basis, and having long-standing family and community connections, makes it much harder to cast a vote that directly discriminates against any one of them.

When you live in a rural community, you are intrinsically connected to the people around you through common experiences, local pride and/or DNA. The culture of Appalachia has been built upon an unwritten rule that neighbor supports neighbor, no matter what, because that’s just the right thing to do. That value has become an innate trait, grown out of generations of hardscrabble existence that required communal living.

That being said, the discrimination I faced as a teenager was not from those in my home community. My community of friends, family and of Viper itself stood behind me and supported me because of those communal ties we shared with one another, and because supporting me in my time of need is ultimately what Appalachians do for each other. 

Knowing all that, it’s easy for me to understand why Vicco’s city council passed the fairness ordinance. They were looking out for and taking care of their neighbors because that’s the way life works in the mountains. You just take care of each other. There was no reason for them to act as if this decision was anything more than routine, because to them, it wasn’t. They were simply carrying on the Appalachian tradition of communal living and community support.

Vicco is now the smallest municipality in Kentucky – probably the whole country – with a ban on discrimination against LGBT people. The decision is a major step for the Appalachian LGBT community, and will surely enter the annals of civil-rights history. But, there is still much work to do in the fight for full equality.

If the rest of the country is to learn anything from Vicco’s decision, it should be that granting equal rights, protections and privileges to LGBT people is not about ideology, religious affiliation or political posturing; it’s about reaching out and helping your neighbors in their time of need simply because it’s the right thing to do.

Vicco has shown the rest of the country the best of Appalachia. It’s time for the country to reciprocate.

Citizen lobbyists in East Kentucky train for work in state capital, elsewhere

By Taylor Moak
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Members of the East Kentucky chapters of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth met Saturday in Hindman to improve their skills as lobbyists and prepare to lobby local, state and national officials.

KFTC, a statewide organization that claims more than 7,500 members, works to improve the quality of life for all Kentuckians, according to the group’s literature. The group has lobbied on environmental and economic-justice issues, like mountaintop-removal coal mining and tax reform.

One way KFTC members make their voices heard is through lobbying. The citizen lobby training Saturday at the Hindman Settlement School opened with a discussion of what lobbying is and how citizens can take action to petition legislators and policymakers at home, in Frankfort, and in Washington, D.C.

Kristi Kendall, KFTC organizer, discusses how the organization's members can frame issues. (Photo by Taylor Moak)
Patty Amburgey, of the Letcher County chapter, has lobbied many times since becoming a KFTC member in 1999. She said during the training it is important for KFTC members to be prepared before lobbying.

“Always read your information and know what you’re going to talk about,” she said to the group.
She said members also have to work to keep the attention of whomever they are lobbying.

“Don’t give them a chance to start going through their papers and stuff like that,” she said. “Keep them focused on what you’re saying and do not let them intimidate you.” 

Other KFTC members present, like Josh May of the Letcher County chapter, had less lobbying experience.

May said he lobbied during a trip to Washington, D.C., when he visited the Environmental Protection Agency as part of “Week in Washington,” an anti-mountaintop-removal event that is organized by other groups but in which KFTC members participate.

“It’s just really intimidating if you’ve never done it before,” May said.

May described what it was like to lobby a federal agency. He said he had to go through metal detectors, empty his pockets out and then wait about 10 minutes after the meeting was scheduled for everyone to show up.

“And they’ve got an agenda when you get in there,” May said. “They’re ready with the answers and ready to give you the run-around, you know. And so if you’re not really prepared, it can be pretty tough.”

He said he felt the experience went well and the group changed some people’s opinions, but at the same time, it felt like the officials had their script and “didn’t go real far from it.”

“But it was a good experience, and I feel like it’d be easier with practice,” May said.

Isaac Owens, 12, of Prestonsburg, said before the training that he was one of KFTC’s newest members, having joined the organization on Friday. Owens was familiar with KFTC’s efforts because his aunt, Kristi Kendall, is the KFTC organizer for Floyd and Knott counties.

Owens said he plans to attend “I Love Mountains Day,” an annual rally that raises awareness about mountaintop removal, in Frankfort on Feb. 14.

Katie Pirotina, of the Perry County chapter, is another new KFTC member. She said she came to the training to “build skills” and said she sees involvement in KFTC as one way she can help “make sure everyone is taken care of.”

Jerry Hardt, KFTC’s communications director, said the organization has helped Kentuckians get involved in the legislative process, helped pass good legislation and stop bad legislation, and held elected leaders accountable.

Even when legislation KFTC supports does not get passed, those times can still act as “an educational process that results in positive changes in other ways,” Hardt said in an email. 

Hardt said KFTC has several major items on its agenda for this legislative session, including restoration of voting rights for former felons, tax reform, clean energy and a “stream saver” bill aimed at the large valley fills that are part of mountaintop-removal mining.

In addition to “I Love Mountains Day,” KFTC has scheduled “Economic Justice Lobby Day” on Feb. 7. Hardt said KFTC members lobby at the Capitol on many legislative days, but “Economic Justice Lobby Day” is a day for members to focus on economic justice issues that may be on the legislative agenda during the session. 

Other upcoming KFTC events include “Growing Appalachia,” a one-day conference with workshops hosted by the Floyd County KFTC chapter, March 3 in Prestonsburg, and the “Transition Conference,” a three-day conference focused on creating a just economic transition in Appalachia, April 19-21 in Harlan.

KFTC staff, who follow the organization’s policy of not being quoted by name, said the turnout at the training Saturday was lower than expected because of sickness and slick roads. Eleven members attended the event.

Russell Oliver, a member of the Perry County KFTC chapter, said in an interview that lobbying is “something you learn to do” and a skill that one can “learn by doing.”

Oliver, who said he had been a member of KFTC for a “long time,” said during the training that lobbying provides the opportunity to find out personally which legislators are or are not sympathetic to one’s views.

He said members should remember that the officials they lobby on a local or state level today could end up in national positions of power. 

He also said there is power in being with a group, such as KFTC, versus trying to lobby on one’s own.
“If you go down and say, ‘Well, I’m from representing KFTC,’ then see, you represent an organization,” Oliver said. “So then they’re a lot more apt to talk to you and listen to what you have to say than if you just go down there by yourself.”

What is Foothills in Focus?

Foothills in Focus is a project to help weekly papers in Appalachian Kentucky adopt multimedia. It is funded by the McCormick Foundation, starting at West Virginia University in 2009 and at the University of Kentucky in 2010. The Kentucky program began with a workshop on audio, which is essential for good video and a useful addition to slide shows. Instructor David Stephenson looks on as Beattyville Enterprise Editor Edmund Shelby interviews Enterprise employee Cheryle Walton during the first workshop. Newspapers received Olympus digital recorders, microphones and headphones as part of the project.

At the second workshop, Stephenson showed how to edit digital audio files to prepare them for use in Soundslides, a program for presenting slide shows on the Web with or without audio, and how to use the program, copies of which the newspapers received as part of the project. Each newspaper is working on a multimedia story. The final workshops, covered shooting and editing video. Newspapers received Flip video cameras as part of the project.

Other papers participating were The Estill County Tribune and the Citizen Voice and Times, both in Irvine, and The Interior Journal in Stanford. The Irvine and Beattyville papers cooperated with Dr. Elizabeth Hansen of the Department of Communication at Eastern Kentucky University and Al Cross of UK's Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues on a survey of residents of Estill and Lee counties about their local newspapers and the Web. To read that research, click here.

Students are also part of the project. Each one in Cross's spring class, Advanced Writing for Mass Media: Online Community News Site, worked with one of the newspapers on news and feature stories. Topics included local elections, the oil business and downtown redevelopment. The students had access to the digital recorders, new computers and cameras as part of the project.

Sandy Swett has a vision for Stanford

By Heather Rous
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
For the story, click here. (Sorry, link has expired)