Our Top Five Individuals That Have Made Edmonson County A Better Place In 2017
Darren Doyle, Editor: Photos from Edmonson Voice files:
Entertainment companies and national media platforms usually compile a list of the best and worst at the end of each year in some form or fashion. We here at the Edmonson Voice thought it would also be fitting to do something similar by highlighting five of the people that we feel have had the most positive impact on our community during 2017.
This list is a result of our direct involvement with each of these individuals. We have personally dealt with each one extensively and have witnessed the impact they have each made in Edmonson County.
There are no political figures or elected officials in the list and none of the individuals have taken personal credit for anything they've accomplished. We all know the ones who "volunteer" only to receive recognition, but those that we're recognizing are anything but that.
So here are our Top Five Winners of Edmonson County for 2017:
5. South Edmonson Elementary Principal Jamie Woosley.
Jamie Woosley was named Principal at SEES in 2012 following a difficult situation. The school was under the leadership of an interim principal after the abrupt departure of Greg Tyree, who resigned for serious health reasons.
Woosley, who had been a longtime educator and administrator in Warren County had very little, if any, local ties to Edmonson County. He quickly established himself as a leader and promptly helped continue the excellence for which SEES had become known. Although his impact in EC has been stretched out over five and half years, this year he made the difficult decision to leave SEES and will be the new principal at Jennings Creek Elementary, which is closer to his own family.
The decision came as a shock to many, but because of the impact he had on the SEES community, his decision was met with overwhelming support. He was recently given a wonderful farewell ceremony at the school.
Woosley and the school were recognized for numerous awards and achievements during his stay and at every single opportunity for Woosley to receive any credit, he refused that credit and instead, passed that along to his staff, his teachers, his students and their parents.
During his time at SEES, Mr. Woosley definitely proved that he was a friend to Edmonson County.
4. Rhonda Clemmons, Southern KY Film Commission.
Rhonda is the person that does much of the work no one else wants to do. She is the director of the Edmonson County Chamber of Commerce, Executive Director for Edmonson County Tourism, and the Edmonson County Board Member of the Southern KY Film Commission.
Rhonda works daily in the Chamber office, located in the courthouse, and in addition to her work there, she basically helps organize everything with Tourism, the film commission, the Planning Commission, and pretty much anything else in the county that has a commission, needs an omission, or has a need for someone ON a mission.
Specifically, she's the one that asked Edmonson County to join the SOKY Film Commission because she believed that the film industry would eventually come to EC if the right opportunities presented themselves. Thanks to her unrelenting work, those opportunities came and our county is now receiving some of those benefits.
She's quick to credit someone else for their hard work, even when she's the one camping out all week at a booth at the state fair, just so Edmonson County can be presented in a positive light. She always smiles and is ready to help anyone with anything. Because of her tireless effort, a movie is being filmed in the county as we speak and two other films are scheduled to follow in 2018. Thanks to her positive vision, she's been a friend to the local economy and morale of Edmonson County.
3. Greg Hudson, Edmonson County Parks & Rec.
Edmonson County Parks and Rec has made huge strides in the types of programs and services they provide to the youth of our county thanks to Mr. Greg Hudson.
A couple years ago, the demand for Parks and Rec services became too much for the personnel on hand, which was honestly a one-man show, courtesy of Director A.B. Webb. While Webb worked around the clock maintaining the fields and running the youth sports at the same time, he requested some help from the fiscal court to meet the demand of the public and Hudson was hired as a Program Administrator.
Because Hudson was so passionate about giving every child a level playing field (no pun intended), some parents actually didn't like it because their child was no longer receiving special treatment. He stood strongly on his principles and focused on one thing only, making Parks & Rec the best it could be for all local families youth.
His addition to the program allowed Webb to focus on field and facility maintenance repair, which has led to baseball and softball fields being in the best condition we've seen in years. Hudson has also been the driving force behind bringing soccer, movie showings, festivals, more disc golf, music jams, and year round holiday activities that have never been available here before. He also brought the Special Olympics to the county for the first time in over 30 years.
He's helped bring "Halloween on the Square" to the county, which has provided a safe and fun event for thousands of children and the annual Freedom Fest has also become a premier event under his leadership. His love for the youth of our community has been proven time and again and he's always credited other volunteers or donors anytime someone tries to recognize him. How did he celebrate his recent accomplishments? He planned and co-hosted a Parks & Rec "Thank You Dinner" by private invitation to show gratitude for anyone that's given a helping hand to the organization over the past year.
2. Edmonson County Teacher and Coach Mike McClintic
In 2017, the Edmonson County Wildcat basketball team brought home the school's first district championship in 24 years under the steady coaching hand of Mike McClintic, better known as Coach Mac, but that's only a small part of why he made the top 5.
Mac is no stranger to adversity and has faced both family tragedy and recent illness. Over the past year, he's powered through some major health scares, suffering from heart issues and a stroke that kept him hospitalized for a lengthy period. He has since recovered, and during that time he was flooded with support from the community. You don't get that type of support unless you've been a strong influence.
We've seen him on court, at practice, in the locker room, and behind the scenes. What you see at one is what you get with the rest. Sure, he's shown some tough love, but that's part of being a coach. You've seen his high-fives in celebration, stomped feet in frustration, but very few have seen his arm of love around the shoulder of a player in need or the tears of sadness he's shared with his players in defeat.
Coach Mac is respected everywhere not only as a coach and teacher, but also as a mentor. Out of the dozens of players and students we've covered in sports and news, we've yet to hear any complaints about Mac. On graduation day, you'll see a line of students waiting to get a pic with him. Teachers, take note: When everyone lines up to get a pic with you, you've done something right.
His relationship with his students and players is only partially based on being a coach and teacher. The other part is based around his role as a father figure. When kids are down and out at school, Coach Mac is one of those that they know will always be there for them.
Mac gets it. Sure, he wants his team to win games but most importantly, he wants his players and students to grow to become quality men and women. Because of his love, leadership, and devotion to his kids, there are more winners than ever at ECHS, regardless of final scores.
1. Mark Wardlow, Santa's Secret Hands.
Very few people live their daily lives with helping others first as a priority, but Mark Wardlow, Director of Santa's Secret Hands surely has to have that mentality.
He makes his living as a towboat captain, which sounds like a pretty cool job. He only has to work a limited number of days out of the year for a whole year's pay, so he gets a pretty long vacation. Most people would spend that time doing something fun or relaxing, or maybe even picking up another job to earn more money. The difference with Mark is that he uses nearly all of his extra time trying to find ways to help the needy kids and senior citizens of Edmonson County through the county's most successful and meaningful charity, Santa's Secret Hands.
Wardlow had the idea to start a benefit that would help needy families at Christmas, which was first funded out of his own pocket. He quickly got the attention of some friends and the idea began to grow. 2017 marked the 13th annual SSH event, which is focused around their annual auction. This year the event broke all expectations and records, and through additional fundraising events during 2017, the organization had raised around $50,000, all of which stays in Edmonson County.
Wardlow works all year to prepare for the SSH Auction and everywhere he goes he's working to make a better Christmas for someone in need. He's eager to talk about the organization, which officially became a legal non-profit this year, but he never wants any credit. We've had the privilege of working with him and his organization throughout the year, and in every conversation we've ever had with him, he's always said, "don't put my name in the news," or "this doesn't have anything to do with me," or he simply names someone else that should get the credit.
There are obviously many caring, talented, and hardworking folks that help SSH in many ways, but in our opinion, Wardlow remains the driving force behind all of them.
Of course, serving others isn't about credit or recognition, but every now and then, those who go above and beyond deserve recognition. There are hundreds of kids and families in Edmonson County that have opened a Christmas present that probably wouldn't have if not for Mark Wardlow. They have warm clothes, good shoes, fun games and toys, and even basic necessities, but most importantly, the hope and joy of the true meaning of giving, and the spirit of Christmas, all because of Mark Wardlow, and he's our number one biggest winner in Edmonson County for 2017.
We at the Edmonson Voice thank all these individuals for what they've done for Edmonson County. Although they're not perfect, their unselfishness should encourage all of us to dig a little deeper to go that extra step in making our community a better place. There are many others that could make this list but these are the ones that we feel deserve recognition for 2017.
As always, we're proud of Edmonson County in so many ways and we're all truly thankful for all the great people that make our community what it is today.