Area Legislators Concerned Local Control Endangered By Mandates Disguised As Recommendations
By: Representatives Michael Meredith, Steve Riley, Bart Rowland, Jason Petrie, and Steve Sheldon
School administrators and teachers have been preparing to return to school for five months, knowing that this school year will look like no other in our history but realizing that education is essential to the well-being of the children and families they serve. They began those efforts by reaching out to parents across their districts to measure concern, identify needs, and determine what options to offer for “Back to School.” School districts have invested time, energy, and money into developing plans to provide a quality education while keeping our children safe. They were prepared to implement in-person learning and virtual learning, and in some cases a hybrid of both. They are ready to get back to work educating our children.
That effort hit a roadblock this week when Governor Beshear “recommended” a delay for in-person classroom instruction. We use the term recommended loosely because a recommendation would provide the information and resources needed to make the best decision possible. A recommendation recognizes that what works in Louisville may not work in Brownsville, Morgantown, or Tompkinsville and what is right for Bowling Green might not be right for Glasgow, Elkton, or Russellville. This seems to be more of a mandate than a recommendation. We have learned from school leaders that the Kentucky Department of Education is applying intense pressure with the threat of repercussions that include padlocking schools and drowning districts in bureaucratic red tape. Furthermore the strong arm nature of the recommendations have left school leaders scrambling to consult with their attorneys and insurance providers to find out if they face additional liability issues that could cripple their budgets if they choose a different path.
We naturally question why the Governor has once again issued a directive without the input of the very people who must enforce it and repair the damage left behind. Our educators, administrators and the local school boards were charged with crafting plans to safely reopen. These same educators, administrators and local school board members have extensive training in education and school governance and they recognize the potential damage caused when a child is denied access to the educational, social, and emotional support provided by our public schools. It is our teachers and administrators who see children who come to school each day with an empty stomach and without basic school supplies. It is these same teachers and administrators that provide a stable, supportive environment for children facing physical abuse or neglect or who have a parent struggling with substance abuse. Eliminating in-person education ignores the significant number of children who may not be abused or neglected, but lack access to high speed internet.
Our educators and administrators recognize the benefits of in-person instruction, and more importantly, the short and long-term impact in-person instruction has on a child’s physical and mental health and development. At the least progress for many of these students will slow; at the worst, some may fall behind forever.
COVID-19 is a real health concern we take very seriously. Because this pandemic will, undoubtedly, affect our foreseeable future, we support taking steps that stop or slow the spread of COVID-19. We encourage all Kentuckians to wear masks and practice social distancing to keep Kentucky healthy. And, while we are hopeful that these steps will reduce the impact COVID-19 has on all aspects of our society, we simply cannot stop living and preparing the next generation of Kentuckians. Our focus should remain on the education and development of our children.
Governor Beshear’s recommendation suggests “one size fits all” across the school districts of this great Commonwealth. The recommendation also suggests school officials and parents can’t be trusted to make decisions best suited for their situations. Both suggestions couldn’t be more inaccurate; decisions about in-person vs. virtual instruction and school start dates should be decided at the local level by our local school board members and superintendents. What Governor Beshear calls a recommendation, we call overreach. Overreach against the very people we trust to educate our children and keep them safe. Our school boards, administrators and teachers deserve the opportunity to complete the task they have been given –educating our children – without interference and threats of retaliation from Frankfort.
Rep. Michael Meredith represents Edmonson County and a portion of Warren County; a retired educator and school administrator, Rep. Steve Riley represents Barren County and a portion of Warren County; Rep. Bart Rowland serves Hart, Metcalfe, Monroe, and a portion of Hardin County; Rep. Jason Petrie represents Logan and Todd counties and a portion of Warren County; and Rep. Steve Sheldon represents a portion of Warren County.
To my beloved fellow Edmonson Countians: I just wanted to say that I think by far our most important consideration with regard to this pandemic, which is a new experience for all of us, is that we be patient, understanding, kind and compassionate with one another as each of us makes our way through it the best we know how.
Let's come out of this experience together, united and strong - one for all and all for one - as Edmonson Countians have long been so beautifully known for doing.
My love and caring to each of you now and always.
Sincerely, Jo Etta Johnson
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The testimony I am giving you now started in the spring of 1959. It was 61 years ago when I was 5 years old when I heard Bro. Willie Doyel preach about the end of time. It's the only sermon I can remember word for word. It was a day service with just a handful of people there. Most of them had walked a few miles to get there and by the time they got there they had the spirit with them.
The sermon was at Bee Spring Missionary Baptist Church and I attended with my mother Ola Vincent Moutardier and my Grandmother Nancy E, Meredith Vincent (Nanny Bun). It was the first time my mother ever let me sit away from her, she said I could sit in the front seat across the aisle from mamaw.
They started with singing, then prayer and then Bro. Doyel started reading from the bible. He closed the bible and started preaching. I could not take my eyes off him. He had sweat running down his face and his shirt was soaked and clinging to him and it didn't even slow him down.
He was preaching about the times before the end of time and about how much power the devil would have, the changes that would take place. He stated that there will be wars and rumors of wars and how Christians would come under attack all over the world. It would be a time of fake prophets. How the country would turn its back on God, the Government would take God, Prayer, The Holy Bible and the Ten commandments out of the schools, out of the oaths of office and oaths of our branches of service. They would even try to keep you from worshiping God. How they would go through the country tearing down Gods symbols and if you talked about God’s Glory you would be mocked and made fun of. How they would taunt God, and allow people of the same sex to marry.
Then he said something as a boy I couldn't understand . He said there would be members of this church and every church throughout the nation that would turn their backs on God and follow the way of the world. I remember looking around at everyone there and I had seen each one in the spirit of the lord, I thought he meant the people in there then, of course he didn't. It would be over 50 years before that would be revealed to me.
That was the way it worked, as things happened and were fulfilled, I could hear the sermon word for word like it was yesterday.
Then Bro. Doyel said one last thing. “At that time it will be Vincent against Vincent, Meredith against Meredith, and Moutardier against Moutardier" then Church was dismissed.
The minute when mom, mamaw and I got in the car they started talking 'what do you think he meant by that?' It had them so worried that they decided to drive to his house and talk with him. When we got there he had already changed into his work clothes to farm.
He came walking over to the car and Mom and Mamaw asked him what he meant by that. He said “Sister Ola and Sister Nanny, I didn't know if I was even going to preach or not until I closed the Bible. I don't know what it means, but I know someone was supposed to hear it. It was for someone there today."
I was sitting in the backseat behind mom next to the window with it rolled down. Bro. Doyel had reached in and was rubbing my head, I looked up into his eyes and he was looking at me, and I saw him say more than I heard him say, “Lord Help Him”.
Four years later I was saved, Bro. Doyel was there in October 1963.
Five years ago God made it all plain to me everything had come to pass. How people from every church would turn their backs on God and go the way of the world. And the Vincent against Vincent, Meredith against Meredith and Moutardier against Moutardier, the meaning was made plain to me. It was me that the sermon was meant for and I was supposed to hear it. At the time of the sermon, that day I was the only one alive that had all three blood lines.
I was supposed to have told this testimony 5 years ago. I went and talked to someone I had a lot of faith and confidence in. He got mad and said that I was making it political. So I doubted myself. The last 5 years have shown me that I had to do this and that I didn't have a choice. I should have done it the first time I was told to.
About the members of every church that would turn their back on God and follow the way of the world. The Bible says give unto man what is man, you still can't go against Gods word. You cannot support an organization, club or party that supports the murder of 60,000,000 + of Gods unborn helpless Children. The woman had her choice before conception. God says ”I knew you in the womb."
And marriage is between a Man and a woman.
You don't have to turn your backs on your loved ones, you pray for them. By condoning the actions that you know in your heart that are wrong, and supporting the organizations or parties that are going against the bible, you are turning your back on God by going the way of the world against his word and what you were taught in the bible.
God comes first over father and son, mother and daughter, brother and sister.
Believe me I have not been the perfect Christian, I have made my mistakes and I have sinned. But I repented to God and begged his forgiveness. This testimony and him saving my soul, and Gods word has been the only consistent thing in my life. I've got my spot and I had to give this testimony. I hope it helps the ones this is for.
God Bless the true Christians and God have mercy on the others.
Douglas Moutardier Jr.
Ecclesiastes 10 : 2
The COVID-19 virus has brought a multitude of challenges to our community. This virus has not only devastated many families in our community, but has changed the way we socialize, how we work, and most importantly how our children are educated. These changes come in the way of using the internet for distancing ourselves from what was the normal day to day life. I am sure we all hope things go back to “normal” soon, but in reality, we may never go back to pre-COVID-19 way of living. I fear we as a county are being left behind because of our poor access to internet providers.
I know there are areas of the county that have good internet service, but there are many areas that have horrible service. I personally live 3 miles from the Brownsville city limits and use Windstream for internet. The max speed I get with Windstream is 1MBPS and they tell me that is the max for my location. Again, I live 3 miles from the Brownsville city limits. I have tried satellite providers and they barely work at all. I have attempted to get Bluegrass internet, but there is too much demand on my tower, so they will not provide to my location. I have no other options. We can barely navigate webpages, and if multiple users are on our WIFI, nothing is going to work.
Election after election I hear the candidates for the Judge Executive office say the way to bring money into the county is for people to move into the county and attract business. Providing quality internet options seems like step one to that plan, but nothing ever improves. The lack of quality internet options is a deterrent to how our elected officials say we grow our tax income. Why would businesses move into the county when we have such a poor internet infrastructure? I recently sold a home and all prospective buyers asked about the internet speed. I am certain we lost 2 buyers because of poor internet speed.
Our Judge Executive and Magistrates must prioritize high-speed internet service to all areas of our county. If we are going to be able to socialize, work, and educate from home, we must have the infrastructure in place. If we are going to attract business and potential home buyers, we must have the infrastructure in place. High-speed internet is no longer a luxury, it is now more than ever a necessity. I call on our elected officials and county executives to act and prioritize bringing high-speed internet to all areas of our county!
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I know this is a late-day greeting, but I would like to wish everyone a blessed memorial Day 2020, despite the worldwide pandemic we are dealing with at the present moment. With patience, perseverance and stick-to-it-ive-ness we will overcome this, too - together. Of this I am certain, because I know what a patriotic, stalwart, hard-working people Edmonson Countians are and always have been. I am SO proud to be an Edmonson Countian and to live here among you, my dearest friends and family.
And to our 2020 graduating class: Keep your head up; keep on keeping on, because this is what Edmonson Countians do. I know you will let this be but a small setback to your future success and enjoyment of life. My mother, an Edmonson Countian, could have no high school graduation ceremony because it was the spring of 193l and the Great Depression was in full swing. Yet, just two years later she was walking and riding horseback from the Capitol Hill (Pig) community of Edmonson County to teach at one-room schools in the Forks community and in what is now Mammoth Cave National Park.
She continued to do so until the late 1930's when she married my dad, who had gone to work for the Park after mustering out of a CC Camp there. In 1943, at the ages of 31 and 34, they volunteered to take her invalid mother into their home. For 11 long years, with Dad's support and help while he worked full-time and farmed on the side, she almost single-handedly took care of her AND myself and my younger brother, as we were born into their home two and five years into this task, respectively. We were ALWAYS at home, except that Dad NEVER failed to take J. C. and me to Sunday School and church at New Liberty, an old-time Methodist church in the Cedar Springs community.
After Grandmother passed away in 1954, Mom immediately re-entered the teaching profession and taught on one-year emergency certificates (renewable only by completing what is now WKU correspondence courses at night as she cooked, cleaned, gardened, made all our lunches and graded papers alongside her course work). In the mid-1960's, she returned to WKU in person, graduating alongside my brother, receiving her first permanent teachers' certificate. She retired from Brownsville Elementary School in the early 1970's on a partial retirement, not having completed enough years of teaching on her permanent certificate to draw a full-time retirement check. In retirement, she and Dad camped all over the United States and even into Mexico, always on a shoestring budget. She would can both veggies from the garden and carp she and Dad would catch together at Lock 6 each August, so they could take their food with them on these trips. They had tickets to go on the Trans-Siberian Railway in the late 1980's when the tour company refunded their money due to the break-up of the then Soviet Union.
At almost 91, she was widowed and living alone at home, still driving her car, and an active member of the very busy Capitol Hill Homemakers' Club, when she collapsed in her bathroom with a massive stroke - on her way to her weekly visit to her hairdresser's. She was not an extraordinary citizen of Edmonson County; she was just typical of her Strong Oak generation - a generation who lived through the Spanish flu epidemic, overcame multiple hardships, including the worst economic depression in our country's history up to that time, who fought and died in two World Wars, and who never, EVER gave up.
To our young citizens: You come from an extraordinarily remarkable heritage. You, too, are made of remarkably "good stuff," and you, too, I believe, will persevere; you WILL succeed. I just have one request: Please stay together; stay united in spirit and purpose, for as our commonwealth seal rightly declares: "United we stand; divided we fall." Attend church together; keep your families together; love and cherish one another and others, and remember that you cannot succeed alone, apart from the love and support of God, family and friends.
This is your heritage. Handle it carefully, and never ever forget where you come from or the extraordinary sacrifices your ancestors have made in tough times, so that you, too, may succeed.
Jo Etta Sanders Johnson