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Opinion

  • There has been a lot of emotional response to last week’s column, which dealt with the murder of Jim Duckett and how his family was trying social networking and other Internet options in their efforts to help find his killer.

    Some members of his extended family felt I was somehow making light of this effort. Sadly, that was far from the message I wanted to convey.

    Writing about the victims of heinous crimes can be touchy. Privacy and grief can be tremendous obstacles on the path of good intentions.

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    The theme of today – and for the year so far – is change.

    You hear it everywhere. The public seems hungry – almost desperate – for it.

    And new President Barack Obama has promised it.

    Tuesday was a day of change, with Obama’s inauguration and his remarks,  when he focused on “hope over fear, unity and purpose over discord….”

  • “Don’t forget to change your oil.”  My dad gave me this pearl of wisdom more than once, often adding “You can drive your car without gas all you want, but don’t try to drive it without oil” to make sure I understood the importance of maintaining the car.

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    From the day Brittney Claycomb came to our office and tearfully told us the story of her uncle Jim Duckett and the terrible tragedy that had befallen him, my heart has gone out to Duckett's family.

    Claycomb painfully painted a loving picture of a beloved man cut down in a heinous and frustrating crime right in the heart of Shelby County. She asked for privacy and sensitivity, and we understood.

    By her accounts - and those of others who knew him - Duckett was a random, senseless victim just at the point in his life where he was getting some traction.

  • The Shelby County School Board is doing the right thing by taking another look at its rollout plans for its new campus West of Shelbyville.

    The design of the schools and the long-range concept are excellent. The green facilities will be an example for all future construction in the county.

  • It must be frustrating if you live on the west end of Shelbyville to drive by the intersection of U.S. 60 and Ky. 55 and look to the north and see a clean, open expanse of concrete roadway that comes to an abrupt end scant yards from where you are passing.

    This is the Shelbyville Bypass, as most of you know, and you realize that it seems within a few feet of being rendered useful on at least that side of town.

    And those who live on the northeast side must feel somewhat the same as they see the near connection with Ky. 55.

  •  Tuesday night was Dottie Shelburne's last meeting as a commissioner for the city of Simpsonville.

    After six years of service, Ms. Shelburne, a lifelong resident of the community, has decided to retire. She cites flagging health, but she also is moved by having won November's election by one vote, an election that was tainted because some voters outside the city limits received incorrect ballots.

    Cary Vowels, the veteran commissioner who finished just behind Ms. Shelburne, will assume her seat and continue his valuable service.

  • Welcoming another New Year means different things to different people.  Some are just glad to put the month-long season of gluttony behind them and still fit into their wardrobe (the clothes, not the furniture).

    Although I do agree with the wise-guy who said, “People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.” 

  • January 1 is a day for agenda-setting, if only because the calendar says so.

    Our leaders from Washington to Frankfort to Shelbyville will be putting into motion their ideas for the coming year.

    They will project how best to deal with the staggering difficulties from our economic picture, the need for better healthcare for all and myriad other problems.

    Privately, the kings of industry will be developing plans to restore and grow their businesses.

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    During the holidays, it’s always wonderful to see our citizens and organizations coming together to help those who have fallen on hard times.

    Yes, it happens every year, but also the demand seems to keep growing and expanding.

    Civic clubs and individuals find their causes – whether they provide winter coats, toys, meals or simply comfort – and they handle as many people as possible.

  • Is it just me, or does it seem like at this time of year that city street lights--and even stoplights-- flash a bright red and green, and in the air there’s a feeling of Christmas?

    Another song (and popular consensus) says that Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year.”  And what’s not to like?

  •  There are many arguments to be had and several votes to be taken, but we like the ideas for budget adjustments that Gov. Steve Beshear put on the table last week.

    Cutting expenses these days can be too quick and to the quick, but Beshear seems to have a reasoned and surgical approach to what is likely the hardest decision he will face in 2009.

    The economy of Kentucky is sagging along with the nation’s and operating under even greater threat of the possible failure by the automakers, which employ so many and contribute so much to the state’s coffers.

  • Skylar Cannon accomplished a feat that is difficult to do on two legs, much less wheels.

    She traversed one of the paths to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in her wheelchair, and she became the first person to do it.

    Skylar, 13, is a student at East Middle School who suffers from the terminal disease Spinal Muscular Atrophy, but she lives a fuller life than most.

    She has grown into the kind of person who relishes and attacks challenges rather than complaining and sitting back to see what might happen to her.

  •  If you read the list of ideas the community put forth recently in its vision for the future of Shelby County, one should have stuck out like Rudolph's nose:

    Let's build a civic center.

    Shelbyville - and Shelby County - is ready to have its own entertainment/meeting/civic venue as functional focal point for all residents and visitors.

    Yes, there are many steps to be taken and many ideas to be reviewed before such a facility could be built, but let's not delay.

  • I was recently reminded of the story of the rescue workers from the Red Cross who, after a particularly severe snowstorm, went to check on a widow who lived in an extremely remote area in the mountains.  After being airlifted in by helicopter and then trudging the final half-mile through 3-foot drifts, they finally made it to the nearly snow-covered house and knocked on the door.

    The widow cautiously opened the door and wondered aloud about why anyone would be out in such bad weather.  When the workers announced that they were from the Red Cross assistance team, the

  •  More than three weeks have passed since James Duckett was found brutally murdered in his home on Rockbridge Road.

    Whoever killed him remains at large, and both state and local authorities have asked for the public's help in finding this person.

    But the public has been given woefully inadequate information to be of any help at all.

  •  The recommendations about how to improve public education in Kentucky has one immediately commendable point: Let's make our elementary arts programs meaningful.

    The Task Force on Assessment and Accountability was created to look at the viability of the controversial standardized state test, the CATS test. As is the case in many states, the testing has not proved students are being educated adequately or on par with other states.

  •  Scott Stumbo, the man that should never have been hired, again is battling his former employer, the Shelby County School District.

    At question is whether Stumbo, who was fired this year after he was charged with making inappropriate sexual comments to a student, should remain barred from school grounds and functions  involving his two daughters, who attend Shelby County High School and Simpsonville Elementary.

  • On Nov. 7 Loran Bennett Mitchell was laid to rest in a small cemetery in rural Washington County, Ind.  He had died on Nov. 3.  You probably didn't notice.  It wasn't in the news, except for the small blurbs in the Salem Leader and Scott County Journal.

    You probably didn't notice, but I did.

  • Positive relationships.

    High expectations.

    Please become familiar with those two phrases, because they are the key ingredients to the perfect recipe for a high-achieving school.

    I do not claim to be a great cook. However, I can claim experience as a student who saw those traits in action - traits that as a student I didn't know what to call them other than I did know who exhibited them.

    Max Cox.