Paducah Life Magazine - February/March 2023

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54 2 • PADUCAH LIFE Stacey Watson Says Her Piece in Word and Art 10 Kristen Williams’ Place Is In The Operating Room 16 Physicial Therapy Is An Ideal Fit For Rachel Atufunwa 20 Allison Rains Controls Chaos In The ER 26 Delia Caldwell First Paducah Woman Physician 29 Paducah Tilghman Sports Records 34 Emerald Therapy Is A Community Counselor 40 The Fantastical World Of Ben Walker 44 Zoe Dannemueller Loves Books And Her Job 58 Dann Patterson Spent Years In The Sky 62 Racing A Wreck With Alex Coltharp 68 Jayme Hobbs Appointed To Federal Board 73 Fletcher Schrock Named President of KBA Visit us at ★ SEE AND HEAR MORE OF THE FEATURES IN THIS ISSUE ON february/march 2023 ★ from the editor & associate editor pages 5 & 7 ★ last word page 76 contents Underwater Welder Ben Stern 8 Women of Healthcare 5o
OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2022 • 3 Get more out of LIFE! There are so many ways to take part in LIFE in Paducah! Get MORE out of LIFE with Contact Darlene Mazzone at Subscribe to our print edition. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Receive our weekly Around&About E-Features! 1 2 3 executive editor/ PUBLISHER Darlene M. Mazzone � associate EDITORS Stephanie Watson J.T. Crawford � art DIRECTOR Scott McWilliams � associate art DIRECTOR Allison Wicker � editorial PHOTOGRAPHY Thomas Dean Stewart Rachael Houser � cover PHOTOGRAPHY Rachael Houser � on the COVER Allison Rains, Rachel Atufunwa and Kristen Williams � In our Dec/Jan edition we apologize for the incorrect spelling of Mark and Cary Donham. Paducah Life is published six times a year for the Paducah area. All contents copyright 2023 by Mazzone Communications. Reproduction or use of the contents without written permission is prohibited. Comments written in this magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the ownership or management of Paducah Life Subscription rate is $29.95 for six issues. Subscription inquiries, all remittances and all advertising inquiries should be sent to Paducah Life, 2780 D New Holt Rd. #346, Paducah, KY 42001. Phone: (270) 556-1914. This magazine accepts no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts, photography or artwork. All submissions may be edited for length, clarity and style. VOLUME 33, EDITION 1 FEBRUARY/MARCH 2023 • 3
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Y “WORKING” LIFE STARTED IN 1976 WHEN I GRADUATED FROM the now century-old Murray State University with a degree in journalism and marketing. I headed out into western Kentucky with the energy and optimism of my fellow grads, armed with knowledge and yearning for experience. Never did I assume that my gender would have anything to do with my ability to perform. I grew up in a farming community where women shared the workload with husbands and fathers to make sure that the cows got fed and the garden got planted. Despite the fact that my mother was, as I recall, one of only TWO moms working outside the home in my first-grade class, I was nevertheless indelibly marked with the basic belief that my resume would be the standard on which I was measured, not my sex.

Yeah, that was naïve. In the first year of my career at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, I was frequently complimented on my appearance but not my qualifications. I was passed over for promotions because “the men had a family to feed.” Sexual inuendo was commonplace. Dismissive language came from both peers and managers. After an encouraging and supportive collegiate experience, the industrial scene left me feeling diminished.

That was 1976. And yes, I’m a little frustrated that so much hasn’t changed despite the many strides that women most assuredly HAVE made in our professional lives. Most recently our ability to choose the course of our own healthcare was struck down by America’s highest court. In January, Missouri legislators banned women from baring their arms on the floor of the congress. Birth control is under attack. Women’s pay is still behind that of men. We represent more than 50% of the population in the United States, and yet women are only 25% of our congressional representation. The United States is the only country in the developed world without paid family leave.

But there are always some bright stars in the night sky. In 1971 Dolly McNutt was elected as the first female mayor of Paducah. However, in the subsequent half century, there have been only three others. In 1983, Martha Layne Collins became the first female governor of Kentucky. There have been none since. In contrast, Sandra Wilson was the first female Board Chair of the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce which has, thankfully, inspired many others to follow. In this issue celebrating Women’s History Month, we learn about the first pioneering female physician given privileges to practice in Paducah in 1898. (You go girl!) In honor of those that followed, we are featuring three women in healthcare once more taking on the mantle of change-making in their respective fields of medicine.

Despite the glacial pace of progress and the setbacks that seem to beset us as we speak, I have reason to remain optimistic. First and foremost, during my long and satisfying career I learned how to navigate the landscape successfully and achieve the goals I set for myself (often with the mentorship of other women).

Now, I look to both the history-making women from our past and those whose LIFE stories are still to be written to gain both perspective and perspicacity. In 2023, we have only one way to proceed—forward.


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IN THE WRITING OF THIS EDITION, I have been moved by the advancement of the women I’ve interviewed. They are truly brave humans with optimistic outlooks, hearts that yearn to make a positive impact on the world, and an unwavering resolve to do so while fighting for equal treatment for women in their professions. However, I have also been unsurprised by their challenges, and I have frequently thought of the fragility of the rights and progress that women have gained.

Darlene made note of some of the challenges to women’s rights that have happened at home this year, and my heart has frequently mourned with our sisters in Iran who are demanding changes to systematic discrimination along with our sisters in Afghanistan who are experiencing all but complete erasure from society as they lose their right to enter and inhabit universities, high schools, parks, and many other public spaces. As we’ve learned this year, both at home and abroad, our rights are no guarantee.

While in my own life I often feel empowered— I am privileged to have a husband who is a feminist, a personal community that values women as full and equal beings, and a female editor who enables and inspires me—I cannot let my own comfort lead to complacency. In the words of poet and activist Audre Lorde, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”

As we enter National Women’s History Month, my challenge is for all of us—men and women— to look at the progress we’ve made with great reverence but also great caution. Progress only remains progress if we continue to demand it be so.

National Women’s History Month

Celebrating the LIFE

DURING OUR 30-YEAR HISTORY, WE HAVE FEATURED MANY, MANY women making THEIR history in our very midst. From mayors to managers, from artists to actors, from chefs to soldiers, Paducah Life Magazine has chronicled the lives and careers of a host of women who have made a little history here at home (or abroad) by way of their talents and tenacity. This year, during Women’s History Month, we’re focusing on a few women who have chosen healthcare as their means of making a difference.

Women in the medical field and in para-health professions have faced similar struggles as women in other historically male-dominated fields. The statistics have improved in the last few decades, with more than a third of nationwide physicians being female. Despite these strides, their work to not only enter but excel in these fields has not been without challenge.

The three history-making women featured in this edition of Paducah Life Magazine are uniquely personal, and yet their journeys have had noted similarities, both with one another and with their colleagues in all disciplines. We are most grateful to bring you their profoundly insightful perspectives on how each individual woman is creating her exceptional Paducah LIFE as a respected healthcare professional.

of three exceptional women with a distinctively healthy perspective

A Woman’s Place Is In The Operating Room

IN A SPECIALTY WHERE WOMEN REPRESENT A MERE THIRD OR SO of physicians, Dr. Kristen Williams is thriving. Her days start early and are often long: rounds before clinic sometimes bring her in before her family wakes, and emergency surgeries sometimes require her presence at all hours of the night. A work week can require 50 hours. Or it can include 100 hours or more. It all depends on what comes through the door. Despite the rigorous schedule, when she speaks about her work as a general surgeon, she glows.

“I have always wanted to be a physician,” Kristen states. “But when I realized I wanted to be a surgeon, I literally cried. I knew the rigor of the profession, and I had a lot of preconceived notions about how difficult work/life balance might be. But when I realized I’d rather work 100 hours a week as a surgeon than 40 hours a week as anything else, it was like the decision made itself.”

Kristen, who is a Paducah native and graduate of St. Mary High School, grew up around hospitals. Her mother was a nuclear medicine tech who later served in hospital administration. As a kid, Kristen would walk her siblings from St. Mary to Mercy Hospital after school to wait for her mom to finish work. Watching physicians from her perch in the break room fascinated her, and she knew that she would join their ranks someday.

As a high school senior, Kristen was accepted to the Guaranteed Entrance to Medical School (GEMS) program at the University of Louisville. This program, whose goal is to keep top medical students in Kentucky, provides early hands-on experiences in


the medical community, relationships with faculty and administrators, and experiences to strengthen academic preparation for the practice of medicine.

As long as students maintain a high GPA and above average MCAT scores, they are guaranteed automatic admittance to UofL’s School of Medicine.

After undergrad, Kristen went straight into medical school at UofL, an experience she describes as similar to “trying to drink from a fire hydrant.” Although she was used to high levels of academic rigor, the sheer amount of learning required the first year seemed to spare no one. Despite the challenge, she excelled, and rotations in her third and fourth year of school were her favorite. Kristen had long planned to be a pediatrician, one of the few specialties that is female dominated, but it didn’t take long to realize that wasn’t her calling.

“There is plenty of data showing that women are pushed into primary care fields: pediatrics, family medicine, and OBGYN,” she explains. “When you break out of those expectations, you know you’re going to have to work harder than any other person in that program to be accepted and to be seen as successful. I knew surgery wouldn’t be easy, but it was still the right place for me.”

While becoming a surgical resident would undoubtedly come with its own challenges, Kristen decided she was ready to add an additional layer of complexity to the mix: She wanted to become a mother. As a third-year medical student on rotation, Kristen met a second-year general surgery resident who was pregnant and thriving. She realized that both life goals could be possible for her as well. After a talk with her surgery mentor, who was also female and a mom, she and her husband decided it was time to consider starting a family.

“My surgery mentor didn’t sugar coat it—she told me I’d have to work ten times harder than men that are fathers in my program—but she also said she knew I could do it. Her belief and example really helped me,” Kristen states.

As a fourth-year medical student, Kristen became pregnant with her oldest daughter, Juliet. With direct guidance from some of her male mentors, she interviewed for residencies wearing clothes that would hide the pregnancy. In fact, when she took a second visit to the residency that she chose at TriHealth Hospital in Cincinnati, she was 17 weeks pregnant and grateful for baggy scrubs.

“I was told specifically that when I interviewed for surgical residencies, I should not tell them I am married, I shouldn’t wear a wedding ring, and I shouldn’t talk about aspirations for having children because those things will just be viewed as someone who is going to need time off,” she explains. “I was told if they knew I was pregnant, they definitely wouldn’t want me. I didn’t follow through with the wedding ring advice, but I did hide the pregnancy.”

The pregnancy wasn’t uneventful, and Kristen ended up on hospital bed rest for seven weeks. She officially matched to her surgery residency in Cincinnati during this time, and her husband John had to buy a house and move their belongings without her. Despite the challenges, when she showed up in Cincinnati, she was living her best life. She was now a physician, a surgeon, and a mother.

Equity Beyond the Numbers

In 2017, around the time that Kristen was in residency, the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) reported 20% of general surgeons to be women. In 2021, the number of female surgical residents had risen to 38%, a remarkable gain in representation for women in this field. And with more than 50% of current medical students being female, one can only conclude that the demographics of surgery and other historically male-dominated fields will only continue to change. Despite the gains toward statistical equality, women’s experiences in these programs haven’t evolved as quickly, and the warnings from Kristen’s mentors about how hard she would have to work in residency weren’t wrong.

At times, she did have to work harder to be seen as competent. And working to secure the connections all new professionals need wasn’t always easy. At night, Kristen would watch ESPN highlight reels so she could patriciate in the general conversation with peers, and she was careful to avoid any show of emotions in case it be misinterpreted as


weak. Her pre-surgery dressing room was shared with all female surgical staff while her male counterparts had a separate “doctors only” dressing room where they had the chance to build an even closer rapport. That rapport often translated to more operating opportunities in the OR. Once, in an oral exam, her only constructive criticism was to “not wear lipstick that made her look like a streetwalker.” The shade was the same color as her natural lips. The male resident who had come shabbily dressed in a wrinkled suit with bedhead hair was given no negative feedback.

80% had experienced gender discrimination

60% had experienced sexual harassment in their job

99% said they experienced discrimination in some form



“Things are so much better for women than they used to be, but that doesn’t make them easy,” Kristen remarks. “For the longest time, women weren’t even allowed into surgery. Then, programs started admitting a token woman to make it appear fair. Now that the stats on admittance are catching up, we need to work on the experience for women as well. With half or more of medical students being women, residencies can’t afford to lose women due to the discrepancies. Doing so means they would be losing half of their talented applicants.”

Her Place, Her Space

Unsurprisingly, Kristen excelled in residency despite some of the trials. She also welcomed a second child, Reese, and decided she wanted to move back to Paducah to practice full time general surgery, joining the surgical group at Baptist Health in 2020. “Honestly, Baptist is a phenomenal organization to work for,” she states. “They are very physician driven, which is in direct contrast to some big hospital systems who focus on the bottom line and are administrator driven. And I do have to give credit to Paducah. There are eight general surgeons in Paducah right now, and four of us are female. In terms of equitable representation in surgery, we are crushing it!”

As a general surgeon, Kristen practices the full scope of surgical interventions, but she is particularly passionate about the work she offers with robotics surgery and breast cancer care. With new robotics technology that she helped bring to Baptist, patients are

40% of male residents and attendings believe gender discrepancies exist


male residents are given more autonomy in the operating rooms than any other group are much quicker to take over surgeries for female residents than their male counterparts

As a fourth-year resident, Kristen took these experiences and made them concrete by sharing an hour-long 100% data driven presentation during continuing education grand rounds. She shared no personal experiences or opinions, but her research confirmed the following about female surgical residents.

Kristin Williams

going home quicker, getting back to daily life faster, and taking less narcotics during recovery.

“Robotics is really a game changer for the right patient population, and the technology is only going to improve from here,” she explains. “Almost all urologists and OBGYNs at this point are doing robotics, and general surgery is in our era of adoption. In ten years, the question will be, if you’re not doing robotics, what are you doing?”

Kristen’s other great passion as a surgeon is breast cancer care. After observing what the hospital was able to offer during her first week of work, she went to the administration and the Baptist Health Foundation to advocate for bringing the Endomag system to Paducah. The Endomag system, which was only available in big cities a few years ago, radically reduces stress and pain involved in identifying and removing breast cancers. At the same time, Kristen advocated to start the High-Risk Screening Program for women who are high risk but don’t have a family history or genetic predisposition. After collaborating with the OBGYN group and primary care physicians at Baptist, the program was implemented. Women in this group now get a mammogram and an MRI alternating every six months so that breast cancer can be detected as early as possible.

“A lot of our patients can’t afford to drive to Nashville for doctor’s appointments, radiation, surgeries, reconstruction, or even testing, so it’s wonderful to be able to offer them the full spectrum of care with the highest levels of innovation,” Kristen states. “After making these changes and hiring a new reconstructive surgeon who works on site, we are now able to say that we are the only hospital in the region that has comprehensive full spectrum breast cancer care using the best technology to support the overall journey of the patient, both mental and physical.”

Choosing to move home and serve the community she loves is the greatest part of her job, however. “Being home is also wonderful because I have always loved this community and getting to serve them is just amazing,” Kristen states. “One of my favorite things about being here is that I can go to church on Sunday and look around, and there’s at least five people I’ve operated on right in front of me. And just seeing the positive impact you can have on the community is so special. You don’t get that same experience in a big city.”

Finding the Balance

Despite her remarkable strides and local impact, Kristen’s work has certainly not been without the traditional challenges women in surgery face. Building relationships while setting boundaries can be a balancing act. She’s been mistaken for a student, told she isn’t Dr. Williams because Dr. Williams is a man, and receives daily comments from patients on their surprise that she’s a woman or she’s so small. To address this, she’s come up with coping mechanisms that allow her to still build rapport with the patient while also setting the tone for the professional treatment she deserves.

“I’ve come up with a lot of one-liners like, ‘Oh, you know, smaller hands mean smaller incisions’ or ‘If I had a quarter for every time someone told me that I could retire by now,’” Kristen states. “I try to defuse the situation with humor but also be clear that this is who I am.” On the other hand, while humor often works with patients, at times setting firm standards for equal professional treatment with coworkers becomes more direct. For example, in a meeting when she was introduced simply as “Kristen” while all her male counterparts were introduced with “doctor” in front of their names, she followed up with an email outlining to the group why it wasn’t ok. The response, luckily, was very apologetic, and she notes that the mistake was never repeated.

“Sometimes, we are trained as women to just let those situations go by and say ‘Oh, it’s okay.’ No big deal. And we’re taught as girls to avoid confrontation from a young age,” she notes. “So the modern woman has to find that balance of not being too aggressive and pushing people away, because that isn’t productive either, but we have to stand up for ourselves. If you don’t stand up for you, who’s going to? And when you stand up for yourself, you are also standing up for every other woman in the room.

“You need an organization that supports work/life balance and knows that a burned-out physician doesn't do any


good for their patients or their community,” Kristen states. “You need someone that is thriving in all aspects of their life to be the best physician they can be. And I think that my generation has really pushed for that.”

And the whole questions of whether she can be a surgeon and a mother—that takes balance, too. “It is an interesting thing to be a physician and a mother, but even more unique to be a surgeon and a mother. There are not very many people—at least not yet—that understand the line you walk and the balance you must find when you take on both of those roles,” she explains. “Dr. Alice Higdon, a general surgeon at Mercy, and I have formed a beautiful friendship that was initially based solely on the fact that we were mothers and surgeons trying to navigate that balance. Having someone in your corner that really gets it—like that moment when you miss a school event because of an emergency surgery, or you haven’t seen your kids in two days because work starts before they leave and goes until after they go to bed— makes such a difference.”

This community of support— from female mentors to other female physicians and surgeons—is critical in helping to move the bar and successfully bring and keep more women into the profession. “For a long time, women in medicine did feel competition toward each other because our space in this field was so limited,” Kristen notes. “That’s not where our patients benefit. Our patients benefit when we all work together to bring each other up. We can all be at the top if we help each other get there.”


Physical Therapy Was An Ideal Fit For Dr. Rachel Atufunwa

AFTER TAKING HER FIRST COLLEGE BUSINESS CLASS AS AN UNDERgraduate at Lipscomb University, Paducah native Rachel Atufunwa quickly learned she wanted less corporate and more caring in her future.

The 2009 Paducah Tilghman graduate considered pharmacy and physical therapy after her brief bout with business, but heartfelt conversations with her dad encouraged her to pursue a field where she could exercise her personality and love for people.

“I soon realized after talking with my dad that physical therapy was something I needed to consider,” Rachel remembered. “He’s always encouraged me to make my own decisions, but when he told me he saw me caring for and interacting with people rather than being stuck behind a counter, I knew it was something I needed to investigate.”

At Lipscomb, Rachel studied exercise science, majoring in kinesiology and minoring in biology. She went on to earn her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Belmont University in 2016. Unlike some healthcare fields, physical therapy is female dominated, with 63% of physical therapist being women. Despite that fact, during and after training she faced some of the stereotypical challenges that women in healthcare face.

“I have the responsibility to guide people to wellness through injury prevention and rehab,” she explains. “A lot of people I work with are looking to get back to high levels of activity, and I often wonder if I’m having to work a little harder to convince them that I can get them there.

Truthfully, the added challenge doesn't deter me. I love watching the outlook of patients evolve through their plan of care as they learn to trust their bodies and to trust me.”

Upon completing her DPT, Rachel worked for about a year in a corporate position, but she quickly realized she wanted to open her own private practice.


After her first daughter was born, she and her husband, Chisom, decided it was time to bring the family back to Paducah. Rachel took a job at Baptist Health. She was happy to be back with former colleagues at Baptist, but she still yearned for her own business.

In 2019, Rachel established IdealFit Physical Therapy on Broadway, just a few blocks from her alma mater. “I started IdealFit Physical Therapy and didn’t really intend on it becoming a full-time gig,” she reflects. “I knew we were hoping to have more kids and wasn’t sure how physical therapy fit into that. But I knew I loved it and wanted to work.”

During that first year, Rachel had several influential women cheering her on. Martha Emmons, co-owner of Bike World, and Ginny Elmore, co-owner of Kirchoff’s, provided support as longtime female business owners and friends. Her mother and older sister, who she describes as “smart, strong, and kind professional women,” were also there to lean on and provide sound advice. Little did she know, the challenges of owning a business were about to get even trickier.

When COVID hit in 2020, Rachel became pregnant with triplets. While you might assume this foretold the end of Rachel’s career, that wasn’t the case. Rachel never felt she had gotten a good running start at managing her company. When she came home with triplets, she felt very motivated, and with the support from Chisom, this new mother of four was ready to get back to it.

“Chison believed in me when I didn’t think I had what it took,” Rachel recognizes. “If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have started my business. He’s such a good partner. And, maybe, subconsciously, my daughters drive my desire to help as well. When they are adults in their careers and my career is over, I hope they think of me when they hit difficult situations.”

Since then, Rachel has found her niche of practicing performance physical therapy to assist individuals in getting back to their highest levels of function. This could mean helping an athlete with high-intensity Crossfit training, a grandmother who wants to play on the floor with her grandkids for the rest of her life, or a new mother who simply needs help with pelvic floor symptoms. Rachel works with health-conscious and active adults, pregnant moms, postpartum moms, competitive athletes, patients seeking “prehab” before surgery, those looking to avoid surgery, injections, and pain medication, and anyone wanting to continue to care for themselves and avoid nursing home care as they grow older.

As a specialist in pelvic floor physical therapy, Rachel is also an advocate for women in the pregnancy and postpartum season of life. She feels women don’t get enough attention, help, or guidance during the postpartum experience and is passionate about helping women work therapy into their active lives.

“I love working with my patients and enjoy helping them with their personal lives and goals—not just learning and


working through what their injury is, but really focusing on why they want to be better,” she explains. “The injury and physical aspects are important to me and my PT assistant, Leah Kluemper, but we really want to know and focus on the long-term goals of our patients so we can improve quality of life.”

And while she stays busy with her daughters and work, she’s also looking for ways to give back to the community. Part of this work includes helping young Black girls in Western Kentucky to see themselves represented in professional settings. In a recent trip to the McCracken County High School African American Leadership Club, Rachel discussed the work she does as a DPT and the path she took to get there.

“Representation is everything,” she explains. “Students seeing themselves represented in professional settings impacts the way they view themselves. As a minority in my field, I knew I’d need to be unafraid to take up space in any physical therapy setting. I knew I’d have to tell myself daily I was as good and as capable and as deserving as anyone else to do this job. My hope was that visiting this club would play a small part in helping them understand they can do anything too.”

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Rachel and her children pictured left to right, Grace, Rebecca, Abigail, and Hannah.

Bringing Calm to the Chaos


Rains, she might find herself facing what most of us would consider a heart-stopping crisis. That’s because Allison’s workplace is the Baptist Health emergency room.

A hospital’s ER is a point of contact where often the worst we can imagine actually happens. It’s a place of quick decision making with little time for second guesses. The level of immediacy required is unlike any other space in the hospital. But in the sea of chaos that can be her daily round, Dr. Allison Rains’ sense of calm confidence is the foundation of her professional prowess.

“The key trait to surviving the practice of emergency room medicine is being able to multi-task while staying focused and vigilant,” Allison explains. “As an ER doctor, I am responsible for seeing patients, checking labs and radiology images, speaking to consultants, writing notes, performing a variety of procedures from suturing lacerations to lumbar punctures to intubations, monitoring our physician assistants and nurse practitioners, and speaking to family and friends of patients, all while waiting for the next big emergency to come through the door. It can be challenging to stay sharp while doing this for a twelve-hour shift, but the variety I get to experience and the positive impact on patients makes it all worth it.”

Clearly, a typical day on shift as an emergency medicine physician is a hectic one, but it’s not the only job that Allison holds at the hospital. As a physician wearing two hats—that of Emergency Room Medical Director and an emergency room physician—Allison tackles the work from both the planning end and the side

Allison Rains

of on-the-spot execution. As medical director, Allison is the physician in charge of the everyday operations of the ER. She looks at metrics and data, ways to improve the flow of work, and manages physician schedules.

It’s her job to ensure that when crises arise, the ER is a well-oiled machine.

“My main goal as medical director is to make Baptist Paducah ER the preferred emergency service in the region,” Allison states. “I truly believe Baptist has the best complement of physicians across the board and provides exceptional specialty care at a high level. I, honestly, didn’t expect to find that when I moved to Paducah. For patients having medical emergencies, I want our ER to be an efficient first stop. If their issue can be solved in the ER and they can be discharged, we want them to have a wonderful experience while here. If they need more care in the hospital, they’ll be in the place to get the very best. Either way, I feel confident they are receiving the highest quality care.”

Empowered and Engaged: Making Space for Women in the ER

Even though Allison has long been a leader in her field, her work isn’t without the stereotypical challenges of being a woman in healthcare. Just under 40% of ER physicians nationwide are female, and at Baptist, Allison is the only female physician on the ER staff. Because of this, there is sometimes push back to her being present at all.

“Because patients often expect to see a male doctor in the ER, I often feel that I have to go above and beyond to be taken seriously,” Allison explains. “I always felt like I had to study a little harder, prove I had the physical strength to work with patients a little more frequently, and speak up when people were unfair or inappropriate. It’s nice to work for a hospital who takes the experiences of its female physicians seriously, but it doesn’t mean the problems never show up.” She also notes that sexual harassment—from unsolicited touching to inappropriate comments is a problem she learned to tackle directly early on.

“As women, we’re often taught from an early age to just let offhanded comments slide,” she notes. “There is an additional layer of complexity to the work of a female physician because we have to be on guard at times and willing to speak up for ourselves in ways that most male physicians never even think about.”

During her residency, Allison faced another challenge that one would hope the industry had moved beyond: she discovered that her male counterparts were making $40 to $50 an hour more than she was. And while it was adjusted after she spoke up, the fact that the hospital system had condoned the pay inequity was disheartening.

“Equal pay has been an important movement for female physicians. In the end, people respect you more when you stand up for yourself and your beliefs,” Allison believes. “If we don’t use our voices, then nothing will ever change. The only way to make change is if we all stand up for what’s fair.”

In the future, Allison hopes to see more female physicians enter her field. Along with tackling equal pay and equal treatment, Allison sees female physicians pushing for more protections for things like family leave and better work/life balance. When women see gains in these areas, everyone wins, Allison concludes.

“I would love to see more female ER physicians, but the specialties that have traditionally been difficult for women to enter have to continue to evolve. When women go into medicine, they do think about which specialty will allow them to be a whole person,” she states. “I’m a working professional. But I’m also a mom. I’m also a

“The key trait to thesurviving practice of roomemergencymedicine is being able to multi-task while staying focused and vigilant.”

McMurry & Livingston, PLLC,

is pleased to announce Hillary C. Landry as the firm’s newest partner. Hillary clerked at the firm in 2014 and 2015 while earning her J.D. at the University of Kentucky College of Law. She became an associate attorney in 2016. Hillary’s primary areas of practice are probate and estate planning. She also handles debt collection and landlord/tenant matters. McMurry and Livingston has been in practice in Paducah for more than 50 years. We welcome Hillary as a member of the next generation of McMurry & Livingston legal professionals.

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Allison Rains

wife, a sister and a daughter. The more women who enter the profession and push for legislative protections and practices for things like maternity leave, equal pay, and protections against discriminatory treatment, the better the profession will be for everyone.”

A Family of Physicians

Understanding the life of a physician is nothing new for Allison. With a physician father and a nurse mom, you could say medicine coursed through her very veins. She remembers doing rounds at the hospital and nursing homes with her dad. On days off from school, she would spend time at his office shadowing him with patients. It was her mother, who ultimately became an ER nurse, that gave Allison her first taste of the profession she would grow to love.

“I’ve wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember. I never even considered being anything else,” Allison explains. “My dad’s example showed me that you could be a great physician and involved parent. And my mother, who had wanted to be a physician but didn’t think she could do it when she was younger, was a huge advocate for me believing in myself. Women need these kinds of advocates in their lives, and I definitely couldn’t have made it without them.”

Allison attended Western Kentucky University where she majored in biology and chemistry. She earned her medical degree at the University of Kentucky. Like most medical students, the first semester of classes provided an intense introduction to the world of medicine. “I think every person in my class failed the first exam. And these are people who have, largely, never even made a B before,” she explains. “We had to learn a totally different way of learning. Things we would cover in undergrad in a semester would be covered in two days, so just memorizing everything wasn’t an option anymore. You had to develop a new way of thinking so material could be learned quickly but also on a deep level.”

At medical school, Allison found a cohort of women who supported each other through the intensity of their training. They served as sounding boards for one another and lifted each other up when things got hard. She also found her husband Martin, who was a Paducah native studying to become a cardiologist.

After medical school, Allison and Martin married and started residency in Lexington. Allison accepted concurrent positions at the UK Chandler Hospital

and Good Samaritan, eventually becoming the ER Medical Director at Samaritan. After devoting a LOT of time to her position, Allison became pregnant with twins. It was time to take stock of where her time could be allotted.

Allison cut back on her hours, but because she was still working most days and infant twins, understandably, don’t allow for much sleep, her grandmother moved in with the couple to help raise the twins for their first year. When Martin finished residency, and a position became available at Baptist Health Paducah, they decided it was time to pack up their family and head west.

At this point, the twins were five and they had another baby in tow. Allison was hired as an ER physician and assistant medical director at Baptist Paducah, but this mom of three felt she wanted more time to spend on her other favorite job: being a mother. Along with serving as medical director for the ER, Allison now works around two shifts a week so that she can spend more


time with the littles that she loves.

“Shift work has been great for me because I can be more flexible as a parent,” she explains. “I get the chance to invest seriously in my career and make strides that are fulfilling. But I also get to make time for the kids’ activities. Being an ER doc has given me the chance to have the best of both worlds.”

Along with her work at the hospital and her dedication to her family, Allison also prioritizes giving back to her community. In fact, a review of her community affiliations and board positions is simply to too long to share in its entirety. Locally, she is a board member for the Baptist Health Foundation, on the Baptist Health Kentucky Sepsis and Lab Steering Committees, and has been on the Dancing with the Stars Planning Committee, helping to raise $251,000 for the American Cancer Society.

She’s on the board for Market House Theater, is involved in multiple committees with Paducah Public Schools and has participated in STEM for Girls events (along with Dr. Kristen Williams). The multitasking gene seems core to who she is. And if you have the pleasure of knowing her, it is easy to see that the same level of composure she demonstrates in the ER translates to the poise with which she handles her everyday life.

“I love it when I hear the comments from my kids that mom is helping people, and I also love being there for as much of their lives as I can,” she states. “I think it proves to them that women can work and have professionally fulfilling careers while also having full, wonderful lives outside of work.”

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Delia Caldwell

Paducah’s First Female Physician and Trailblazer for Women


Delia Caldwell, a Paducah resident, broke all kinds of ground for women. Born in 1860 in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, Delia was the daughter of Isaac and Evaline Caldwell. After the Civil War, the family moved to Carbondale, Illinois where Delia went to school. Delia attended college, which was unusual for a woman in those days, and she graduated at age 18 from State Normal College in 1878.

Delia taught in public schools for several years in Illinois and other states before deciding to attend medical school. She studied medicine at Northwestern University of Chicago, graduating in 1896 at age 36. After an internship in Boston, she moved to Paducah in 1898, and set up practice at 522 Broadway, the current location of St. Francis Catholic Church. She would later move her office and residence to 735 Broadway. A small notice in the Paducah Sun announced her arrival with the heading “Female Physician.” It stated simply that the “first female physician to register in this county was registered this morning by Deputy County Clerk Smalley. It was Miss Delia Caldwell, who has located here.”

During her time in Paducah, Delia became very interested in welfare work. She became a board member of the Home of the Friendless, an orphanage in Paducah, where she remained an active member for many years. But her uniqueness did not stop there. She worked locally for the study of the prevention of tuberculosis. She was also elected to the Paducah Board of Education, breaking ground there as the first woman elected to that board. She later became the first female President of the Paducah Board of Education.

Delia was regarded as a staunch supporter of the schools, having been a teacher for a number of years, and worked through many difficulties with the board and school system. In 1908, on a trip to Chicago for a medical meeting, she made arrangements with Alfonzo Taft to create the statue of Chief Paduke, now located on Jefferson Street. She claimed more accolades in 1911 when she became the first female to be elected to an office of high rank in the Kentucky

State Medical Society, which was affiliated with the American Medical Association (AMA). Thus, she became the first female in the history of the AMA to attain a high rank and the first woman to serve as the Vice President of the Kentucky Medical Society.

In 1917, on the outbreak of World War I, she volunteered to join the Army Medical Reserves as a doctor but was turned down because she was a woman. The surgeon general stated that women could not meet the demand of the battlefield and were not qualified to command men. Also, since women could not vote, the use of the word “citizen” in the Army Reserves didn’t apply to women.

Since most of her immediate family still lived in Carbondale, Delia left Paducah in 1918 for Carbondale, being lauded by the Paducah Board of Education for her service as a board member and then as the president of the Board of Education. She was also praised by the McCracken County Equal Rights Association. As a tribute to her, they wrote, “You began in Paducah as a pioneer in the wider fields of women’s occupations, but then you blazed the path so clearly that all women who follow will find the burdens lighter because of the crosses that you have borne so bravely and nobly.”

Through the years, she came back to Paducah from time to time to take up residence. She went on to become the Medical Director of the Southern Illinois Normal School in Carbondale. She died in 1945 and is buried in Carbondale. Delia Caldwell was a pioneer for women in a man’s world and remained undaunted throughout her life, making strides for women in many fields.

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The Blue Tornado Blows Away the Competition



AFTER AN 88-52 VICTORY OVER MERIDIAN, Illinois, Paducah Tilghman High School cemented itself among the elite high school programs in not just the state, but the entire nation. Not only did Tilghman tally their 2,000th program win in basketball—the second team in the state to achieve this number—but they are the first high school out of the roughly 21,000 in the nation to log a combined 2,000 wins in basketball and 800 wins in football.

Both programs have had their fair share of shining moments since the school’s opening in 1900. The school won state championships in football in 1973, 1985, and 2009, and were state runnersup in basketball twice thanks to a plethora of talented players and coaches who have represented the Blue Tornado.

I had the opportunity to ask former Paducah Tilghman athletes and coaches from some of the school's championship basketball and football years about their perspective on Tilghman’s accomplishment and what it means to be a small part of the ever-growing tradition of excellence.

With the history of the Tilghman athletic program spanning over 120 years, I wanted to hear some of the most notable moments and experiences that stuck out to these former players and coaches.

Randy Wyatt, former member of the Tilghman football team and state championship winning coach in 2009, described the morning prior to his state championship win as head coach. The year prior in 2008, Tilghman finished the football season 4-6. Looking to right the ship heading into the next season, he sat down with his staff and devised a way to turn it around. And turn it around they did.

Wyatt described their fourth win against Holy Cross that season as a lightbulb moment for the team; everything began to click. Later that season, after advancing to the state championship game, Wyatt described that the morning of the game, he saw the sun shining

Members of the Tilghman 2009 Kentucky State Football Championship team.

perfectly over the Tilghman football stadium like he had never seen before. He knew at that point, in his heart, that they were destined to win that night. This, indeed, came true, with Tilghman going on to win their first state championship in football in 24 years.

Bob Blackman, another former coach of Tilghman’s football program, noted his time as an assistant coach on the 1985 state championship winning staff as a notable experience during his tenure at Tilghman. After winning a state championship as a player in 1973 under coach Dan Haley, the 1985

win brought his story at Tilghman full circle, and he feels fortunate to have been a part of the school’s legacy of wins.

Bill Chumbler, Tilghman’s head men’s basketball coach from 19952002, shared that a scheduling change in practice times was one of

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In 1973, Coach Dan Haley won a State Championship and was named Coach of the Year in Kentucky.

their practice window start at 5 PM, and the boys routinely going past schedule for their practices right after school, Coach Chumbler headed his players’ advice and opted for the later practice time. The players were initially delighted, thinking they would have time to relax after school. Instead, Chumbler required players use the after-school time until practice for study hall. But there was a catch. If his players could make the honor roll, they would not have to stay after to work on class work. This stipulation ended with every one of his athletes on the honor roll, just as he had hoped.

For Greg Overstreet, Tilghman’s current head basketball coach, Tilghman sports are just part of who he is. As a kid, Overstreet grew up watching Tilghman sports with his grandparents as he made his way through the Paducah school system, eventually joining the basketball team in high school.



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Not every studeNt participates iN athletics iN high school, but every studeNt has the chaNce to beNefit from their preseNce. here, coach overstreet shares his reflectioN oN wiNs, resilieNce, aNd how sports caN create a seNse of place aNd beloNgiNg.

Being a part of any team or organization, whether that team is winning or losing, has life-changing opportunities to help students prepare for the future. Working with a group of individuals to achieve a goal teaches numerous life lessons. And when you add winning to the equation, the confidence level and pride that goes along with the success is endless. This creates an experience that young adults can draw from the rest of their life. Life lessons happen daily on our teams. Handling adversity, becoming the best you can be with the role you are given, and building the discipline required to be successful all prepare these athletes to be resilient adults who can collaborate, problem solve, and push through.

It has been proven that when a school’s athletic teams have success, it boosts school moral and gives all students a sense of pride. But this takes more than just the athletes to create. The band, cheerleaders, and student body in the stands all play a big part in a team’s success and school’s overall pride.

Paducah Tilghman has the honor of having a few athletes reach the pro level, and several hundred players have received scholarships to play in college. These athletic scholarships have given several of our students the opportunity for higher education that they might otherwise not have gotten. Even those that don’t go on to play after high school can take the lessons learned in athletics into their careers, making them hard-working, resilient, and better leaders. Finally, being part of a team means having a place to belong, an experience that is especially important for teens. Outside of my family, the biggest influences in my life were coaches in our system, so the opportunity to coach at Paducah Tilghman after being a player is really special. Rick Ragland, Berny Miller, and Allan Cox stand out as men who taught me so much. Sometimes I didn’t understand the lessons at the time, but, as an adult, I realize they were preparing me for life. Hopefully I can have that same positive effect on our current players.”


Overstreet helped win the regional tournament in 1980 as a player, and then joined the team again as head coach in 2019 after 16 seasons of coaching men’s basketball at St. Mary’s High School

Along with current head football coach Sean Thompson, Overstreet is very proud of his state championship run last year as well as the combined national ranking. Seeing their groups come together working towards one common goal is rewarding and the reason why Tilghman wins are not just the expectation but the standard.

However, each coach noted that when it comes to this tradition of excellence, shooting past mediocrity and striving for greatness does not start on the court or field: it starts in the classroom. The district has built an environment in which these student athletes can excel because of the community of support they

receive, including that from teachers, administration, parents, and peers.

Tilghman’s current record-breaking wins are simply a continuation of a tradition of excellence which has held true for Paducah Tilghman High School for decades. It is representative of a long history of supporting players to not only be the best athlete they can be, but also to be the best person they can be.

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The 2002 Tilghman basketball team was the first state championship runner-up since 1953.

Find Your Passion. Invest In Your Community.


ference room on a green velvet couch, with a small fireplace backlit with green, and clover napkins on an end table. Shelly, chin resting on her hand, elbow on her knee, which is a posture she often finds herself in during her hours meeting with clients, greets me with a welcoming smile.

Emerald is an important part of Shelly and the organization’s brand. The name alone—Emerald Therapy— is meant to honor her family’s Irish heritage and to represent, as green does, healing and growth. This melding of her clothing, her family, her office décor, and what the company stands for, demonstrates how much Shelly cares for Emerald.

Shelly, in addition to being the executive director of Emerald Therapy, which she co-owns with her husband Kevin Baer, also practices as a psychotherapist, providing services to clients and overseeing clinical services. Prior to opening Emerald Therapy, Shelly worked as a solo therapist for several years. Since commencing Emerald Therapy in 2014, Shelly continues to expand. In the coming months Shelly will be starting a podcast. She’s also working on a book to share stories of clients who have overcome major obstacles.

HELLY O’NEAL BAER’S ORGANIZATION, Emerald Therapy, is clearly more than just a business. It is her. Garbed in a green silk blouse, she is sitting in her con-

Given her experience in the field of psychology, Shelly felt that more funding was needed in patient care and resources. “I thought there could be


a better way to deliver mental health services,” she said, “Everyone can experience mental health issues. I wanted to be able to reach everyone—not just the seriously mentally ill. We say if you can blink or breathe, life will happen to you. The healthiest and happiest people that I know don’t have less problems. They are just really good at navigating them.”

Emerald Therapy includes six locations, over 90 employees, and services including, but not limited to, psychiatry, intensive outpatient Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, mental health assessments, and counseling. “I learned by working with large healthcare organizations that when those organizations came into rural communities, they often did not understand the needs of that community,” she said. “So McCracken looks different than Marshall. Marshall looks different than Calloway. Consequently, we have a very dedicated group of people with roots in the area. They want the area they live in to be an amazing place to live,” she states. “Emerald Therapy is really about legacy and creating healthier communities.”

Shelly grew up in a small rural town in Southern Illinois. “I encountered people from all walks of life and that became such a valuable skill set because as a therapist you work with people from a variety of income levels and backgrounds,” she shares. “I remember as a child seeing my grandparents talking to everyone in the community. Their front porch was a good place to sit, catch your breath, and get a little bit of guidance.”

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Shelly attributes her interest in psychology to a class she took in high school. “It’s never boring in this field. And the more we learn about the brain, the more we can stop shaming people and realize that there’s some reason we act the way we do,” she said. “And that’s exciting to me.”

As a female business owner, Shelly acknowledges, like other business women, that it is difficult to balance life and career “I have to be realistic,” she admits. “There are some sacrifices.” Her children often spent time with her in the office when they were young. “I was a single parent for 12 years. My kids grew up going into the office with me. They were always involved. They grew up in it.” She continues to have her children involved in her business. Her oldest son is the CEO and manages dayto-day operations for the Emerald Therapy facilities. Her youngest son works for the foundation, and her daughter worked remotely for the company.

Shelly is committed not only to her clients but to her

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employees as well. “We have a positive and kind culture here. We keep it fun,” she says. “One of the things we do with our own staff is really promote what we tell our patients.” Emerald Therapy focuses on four areas of wellness— emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial.

Shelly has brought to fruition a dream. She warmly shares her story but also listens just as intently. During our interview she handed me a book noting, “This is a very old book. I read it every year. It’s called The Four Agreements. I even carry a small one when I travel.”

The Four Agreements proposes four codes inspired by the ancient Mexican civilization called the Toltecs: be impeccable with your word; don’t take things personally; don’t make assumptions; and always do your best. Shelly has created a business that is a reflection of just such beliefs. “I would encourage everyone to do whatever their passion is, and also invest in their community,” she suggests. And that is exactly what Shelly Baer is doing.

Emerald Therapy focuses on four areas of wellness— emotional,
physical, spiritual,

What’s Ahead in 2023

Be A Part of Your Paducah!

Ever wonder what makes Paducah such a wonderful place to live?

The same thing that brings visitors to Paducah all year long: fascinating history, world-class arts and culture, local flavor, warm hospitality and YOU!

This year marks the 10th Anniversary of Paducah’s designation as a UNESCO Creative City, making 2023 the perfect time to explore the creative spaces in your own town. Make plans to attend Paducah’s 2023 annual events and keep an eye on for daily happenings.

2023 Festivals & e vents


Dogwood Trail Celebration | Mid-April

The Trail covers approximately eight miles highlighting dogwoods and flowering garden areas. While the trees are in bloom, signs are strategically located at each turn on the Trail for a self-guided springtime tour!

AQS QuiltWeek – Paducah

April 26-29

Quilt visionaries Bill and Meredith Schroeder founded the American Quilter’s Society and hosted the original AQS Quilt Show here in 1984. Now known as AQS QuiltWeek, this four-day event is celebrating its 37th show in Quilt City USA® in 2023!

Water of Life Festival | May 6

Paducah celebrates two Kentucky traditions, the Derby and Kentucky bourbon, in this downtown festival. Enjoy live music, bourbon tastings and Derby-themed activities for the whole family. With shopping specials and plenty of downtown Derby viewing parties, this event has quickly become a Paducah favorite.

Lower Town Arts & Music Festival | May 12-13

This festival celebrates the renaissance of Paducah’s Lower Town Arts District with live music, local eats, visual arts and more. Artisans set up booths throughout the neighborhood while local shop owners and artists welcome you with open doors.

Cinema Systers Film Festival | May 25-28

The country’s only all-lesbian film festival seeks to provide a supportive and inclusive educational environment for filmmakers, writers and directors in Paducah. In addition to film screenings at Maiden Alley Cinema, there are workshops and events in multiple venues.


PrideFest | June 3

Paducah PrideFest is a celebration of love and diversity in the Paducah community. Featuring live performances by nationallyknown artists, this free event is welcoming to all.

McCracken County Fair | June 19-24

Celebrate summer in Paducah at the McCracken County Fair! You’ll find children’s activities, amusement rides, horse and livestock shows, the annual flower show at the newly restored Floral Hall, and live entertainment at this annual community classic.

Independence Day Celebration | July 4

Bring the entire family to the riverfront for a spectacular fireworks display, live music, vendors and activities. Historic Downtown Paducah is the ideal backdrop for the city’s yearly celebration of American Independence.

Eighth of August Emancipation Celebration | August 3-8

Pay tribute to Paducah’s African American heritage during this annual event! African Americans in Paducah have traditionally observed this day in commemoration of their ancestors’ emancipation from slavery. With week-long activities for the whole family, this celebration of freedom is a community favorite.


Barbecue on the River

September 21-23

After decades of successfully cooking some of the best BBQ in the country and raising money for local charities, Barbecue on the River is back in 2023! Gather with other Kentuckians to feast on mouthwatering hickory-smoked meats at this beloved community festival.

Maiden Alley Oktoberfest | October 15

Prost to Oktoberfest! This annual festival celebrates community with beer from local and regional brewers, classic German food, live music and family activities in Paducah’s Midtown neighborhood.


Holidays in Paducah | November & December

November and December are packed with multicultural holiday events to celebrate the season in Paducah. From open houses and smallbusiness shopping, to downtown festivities and local live performances, the holiday spirit shines bright all season long.

Christmas in the Park | November & December

Paducah Power System presents Christmas in the Park. With thousands of lights on display, this family-friendly light show is a must-see for the holidays. Drive or stroll through Noble Park to get in the holiday spirit!

Keep your eyes open for new annual events from Paducah creatives popping up throughout 2023.


plans at



AMAN IN A MASK LEANS AGAINST A lamp post. A large music box is strapped around his neck. The background looks like perhaps a European city—maybe Venice? His mask creates an accentuated nose-beak. Two white eyes poke out of the mask. No pupils. Is he glaring? Is that a sinister smile we can see curling up underneath a well-groomed beard. He looks down at the dragon-like creature that sits atop his music box. This unsettling scene does not make us run but rather want to look further. Are those fish in his bag? Is he wearing gloves? What are those ornate chains around his neck?

Within this artful creation, we enter into the fantastical world of artist Ben Walker. His pen and ink drawings illustrate a story that can’t be found in books and often Ben cannot tell how this story came to be. With headphones on, Ben will spend hours creating characters, inventions, and settings that exist nowhere but in Ben’s imagination. They start as brainstorming sketches. He fills a page full of ideas until he finds something that intrigues him. “It is just sketch on sketch on sketch,” he shares. “Eventually I get to a final piece. People will sometimes ask what the meaning is behind a project and I don’t have an answer. It took me where it wanted to go.”

Ben, by the age of ten, knew he wanted to be an illustrator. His parents encouraged the pursuit. “I grew up on Norman Rockwell, MC Escher; artists who tell a narrative. A lot of my artwork looks like it could go in a storybook,” Ben says. He went on to study at the well-known Savannah

College of Art and Design. After graduating he married Paducah native, Rae Ann Ragland. The two teach together at Concord Elementary School. Rae Ann teaches physical education and Ben teaches art. “Opposites attract,” as Ben explains. Rae Ann is not an artist. She’s an athlete and comes from a long line of coaches and PE teachers. But she has embraced her husband’s inventive pursuits. “I often go over to Anything Goes {a local surplus outlet} and pick out all sorts of objects to use in my art like things from inside a piano,” he shares. “She has gotten used to things showing up on our kitchen table. I have such a patient wife.”

While pen and ink is his preferred medium, teaching has inspired him to branch out into other artistic choices,

H The FEBRUARY/MARCH 2023 • 41


particularly sculpture. In his latest creation, Ben brought one of his drawings to life. He created a box with a robot-like arm holding a guitar. In the original drawing, the box sits on a sidewalk. A hat with loose change sits in front of it. The box in the final product varies from the sketch. “I am not that good with my woodworking skills,” he humbly comments. This impressive sculpture shows his craft as he figured out how to have the entire object collapse neatly into the box. “I made sketch after sketch trying to figure out each detail,” Ben explains.

A few years back Ben became interested in making butterfly boxes. These are small cabinet structures that open up like a triptych with handcrafted wooden butterflies in it. His aunt would sell them at antique shows. One year his aunt took one of his large boxes to a show in Southern Mississippi. The temperature was 95 degrees. All of the butterflies melted during the show. “Ok I thought, I do not need to use that kind of glue anymore,” Ben said. “You learn as you go. It is a constant process.”

As a teacher, Ben loves the open-ended assignment for his students. He finds children’s creativity really comes out when they get a

chance to explore on their own. “Kids are so much more creative than a lot of people give them credit for,” Ben shares. Currently he is working on creating maquettes, small sculptures out of oil-based clay with his 3rd grade classes. Similar to his own process, he has the children start by drawing their ideas, while asking them to think about how the work will look as a sculpture. After working through all the details and visualizing it at all angles, the students create their sculptures. “I like to find fun projects that they are likely not going to get to do outside of art class,” said Ben.

As a teacher and parent, it can be hard to find the time to work on his own art. Ben says his most productive time is often from around 9 PM to midnight. From a local art standpoint, Ben is a participating member of the Wastelander Art group. He attributes his productivity to the group which exhibits at the Yeiser Art Center twice a year. Deadlines can be motivating.

Ben also draws the homes of individuals on a commission basis. And he’s created artful medical images as well using a graphic design program for a local pain management group. These precise, realistic measured drawings stand apart


in the most obvious way from his fantastical storybook creations, but they also show similarities. In all of Ben’s work there is an amazing level of detail, planning, and intensity.

But despite Ben’s many artistic talents, he finds the most joy creating his fantastical pen and ink illustrations. Here he can immerse himself for hours with a fine tip Micron pen. Headphones on, the images just come to him he says. A rat with a jaunty hat covering his eyes, cigar in his mouth. An elaborate door knob with a vine growing over it. A carriage pulled by a robotic looking tiger. A cathedral-like sculpture carved into a tree or perhaps grown from the tree. The images come to life as he develops them. The fantastical world of Ben Walker draws us in.

Ben will spend hours creating characters, inventions, and settings that exist nowhere but in Ben’s imagination.

For the Love of Books

At just 29 years old, Zoe Dannenmueller has landed a job that most bibliophiles could only dream about. This Paducah native recently returned home, bringing her job with publishing giant HarperCollins along with her.

ONE OF ZOE DANNENMUELLER’S EARLIEST MEMORIES IS SITTING ON HER GRANDfather’s lap and watching him write. The cozy study, the mahogany shelves lined with books, and the faint click of a keyboard captured her young imagination, igniting the spark for a dream she’s living out today.

“I’ve always had a creative mindset, and I was scribbling and drawing from an early age,” she explains. “My parents really pushed me to go outside my bubble. The marketing work I do now let’s me tap into both sides of my brain—the creative and the analytical—in a way that speaks to who I’ve always been.”

Zoe’s first experience with marketing, interestingly, happened during her time at St. Mary High School. Her father, who owns the local business Dannenmueller Blinds, Shutters, and Closets, gave her a challenge. If she could come up with a great promotional piece and pitch it to him, he’d use it as branding. She succeeded, and her artwork ended up on his website.

This experience provided the inspiration for majoring in advertising with a minor in graphic design at Western


Kentucky University. After graduating in 2016, Zoe spent a year working as a marketing and media coordinator at Harlaxton College in London, the same place she had spent a semester studying in college.

After her work visa expired, Zoe headed back to Bowling Green to work at a marketing/ advertising agency as a social media strategist. The big city was calling to her, however, and she knew she wanted to transition to Nashville. A Nashville-based agency hired her to run social media and marketing for ten corporate accounts, from mom-and-pop operations across the nation to Opry Mills Corporation in Nashville. The company, unfortunately, dismantled operations in 2019, and Zoe found work as the Marketing Coordinator for Graduate Hotel in January of 2020.

Then, the pandemic hit. “I had just started a new job, and then the whole marketing team was furloughed. I had no idea where I wanted to go from here, so instead of jumping into another marketing position, I spent a lot of time soul searching, traveling, and researching what I really wanted my next step to be,” she explains. “It took a lot of side gigs to pull off, but the extra thought and effort helped me find my dream job. They’re going to have to take me out of here in a coffin, because I can’t imagine ever working anywhere else!”

What she found was HarperCollins. An extensive application and a dozen or so interviews later, Zoe had landed her dream job in April 2021 with the Nashville branch of

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the publishing giant. As a manager on the marketing operations team, her job is to help the various divisions of the company—think HarperCollins Children’s, Harlequin, Thomas Nelson, etc.—carry out best practices for marketing to their specific audiences. She helps them dig into the creative work while giving advice for branding, social media outreach, online brand presence, and even typography. And if that wasn’t enough, she does much of her client’s product photography for their online interfaces. Possibly the most exciting part of her job, however, is her work in acquisitions where she helps discover new authors whom she can guide into the publishing space.

Zoe works with authors big and small, well-known and new. For one of her largest clients, the Magnolia Network, Zoe created the Amazon Home Page including photography of Joanna and Chip Gaines’ books and merchandise. Her creative side loves the product creation: photography for Facebook ads, Instagram, Amazon, and lifestyle images around the holidays. Her analytic side loves the strategizing.

And while marketing is her specialty, she’s also pushing to explore the full scope of the industry. “I’m trying to immerse myself in all the different aspects of the business,” she notes. “I want to see what they’re doing in sales, editorial, and even production warehouses to understand the full scope of publishing as we work together to bring that handmade piece of creativity—like the ones I grew up watching my grandfather write—reach

Like many people, the pandemic took her work remote, and she decided it was time to come home. She purchased a house in the Lower Town neighborhood and is enjoying exploring Paducah classics like Kirchoff’s and Etc. Coffeehouse as well as new additions that have popped up while

“I love this hometown, and I think it so unique. Anytime I bring people here, they’re shocked at the food, the shops, and the true Southern hospitality. Coming here is like getting a Kentucky hug,” she laughs. “If everything goes to plan, I’ll be here for the long haul, and maybe I’ll even open a local book shop one day.”


An Early Introduction to the World of Books

MY GRANDFATHER GERARD JOSEPH BRAULT, Gerry as he often went by, was by far and without a doubt one of the most knowledgeable, courageous, and faithdriven men I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting (and sharing my DNA with!) He was an accomplished writer, author, Army veteran, collegiate basketball player, appointed professor, and even head of the Department of French at Penn State University. Among his most important works were his two-volume edition of the Song of Roland and his 1997 The Rolls of Arms of Edward I, with my favorite being The French-Canadian Heritage in New England.

During holidays and summer visits up to State College, Pennsylvania where my Grandpa Gerry and Grandma Jeanne lived, all eight grandchildren would fiercely be consumed with all things Barbies, dinosaurs, Legos, and disorderly games of hide and go seek. In the midst of utter cousin chaos, somedays, if I was lucky, when looking aimlessly around, I would catch a slight glimpse of the warm glow coming from Gerry’s desk lamp. Up the basement steps, through the kitchen, past the living room, and down the hall was the wide and curious world of Gerry’s study. To us littles, it was a no-no zone, the ultimate definition of Narnia, if you will. From a little girl’s perspective, it was absolutely anything but mediocre and stuffy. Once entered, you were graced with silky, dark mahogany floor to ceiling bookshelves, stacked higher than you could reach. Each row stuffed deep with various dusty novels, French poems, and tattered maps ready to be examined and explored. I often would get the invitation to come in and take a look around during one of Gerry’s writing sessions. I often dashed right up on the seat of his lap, getting an even better view of the wide array of past books read and current writing projects he was extensively making his way through. To this day, these moments spent with Gerry in his tiny office, surrounded by wisdom and literature, remain some of my favorite.”

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In March, WKCTC Will Host Ross Gay, Author of The Book of Delights


Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC) on March 14 and 15 to discuss his New York Times bestseller, The Book of Delights, at the college’s 2023 One Book Read project. The Book of Delights is a collection of short lyrical essays celebrating ordinary delights in the world around us. Written daily over a tumultuous year, beginning and ending on Gay’s birthday, the book reminds readers of the purpose and pleasure of celebrating everyday wonders. This essay collection is about noticing shared connections and reveals to readers that observing life closely can be a powerful and impactful daily practice. Among Gay’s funny, poetic, delights, his short essays also reflect his thoughts on subjects such as racism, politics and the loss of loved ones. But more than anything, he celebrates kindness and the beauty of the natural world.

Tracy K. Smith, a Pulitzer Prize winning American poet said, “Ross Gay’s eye lands upon wonder at every turn, bolstering my belief in the countless small miracles that surround us.”

Britton Shurley, Dean of Humanities, Fine Arts, Business and Social Sciences and One Book Read committee chair, says the book is a perfect selection and vehicle for everyone to reflect on the hardships of the past few years while moving forward and recognizing the small things which bring each of us delight. “We wondered what it would look like,” he said, “if campuswide, we each chose to focus on bringing more delight to students, faculty, staff and our community,” he said.

The One Book Read project is an annual campus and communitywide effort to promote literacy and discussion of culturally relevant issues. The project encourages WKCTC, the community, and area school districts to read the same book and discuss it in a variety of settings.

The author will spend two days at the college, beginning with an evening opening reception, followed by a one-hour presentation, Q&A session, and book signing. The following day, the author will deliver presentations for WKCTC and dual credit English high school students, faculty, and staff, ending with a book signing. All events are free and open to the public.

This academic year, the college is delighted to celebrate 15 years of the One Book Read when author Ross Gay visits the campus on the evening of Tuesday, March 14 for his presentation and book signing, and again on Wednesday, March 15, for a daytime reading and signing.


WELDER Underwater ★

While most of us prefer to spend our days warmly huddled above and out of our nation’s coldest bodies of water, Ben Stern doesn’t hesitate to don a wet suit and dive right in. As an underwater welder and professional diver, Ben’s work is as varied as the waters into which he dives, and he’s making a career out of what’s happening in the deep.



is easy for Paduchans to understand. Since its earliest days, the water has contributed to the culture and economy of our city. But work below the water? That takes one “electric” personality!

Many think of diving based on images from National Geographic: warm, tropical blue waters with colorful fish swimming by. The

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Underwater Welder

reality for most underwater welders, however, takes on a much darker tone.

“Usually, we’ll carry a flashlight,” Ben explains, “but most of the time you can’t see the tips of your fingers because the water is so dark. It can be challenging to work when you can’t see, but that’s part of the job. You can compare it to changing a tire. Everyone knows how to do it, but could you do it blindfolded?”

Because most of his dives are so dark, Ben’s work often relies on a sense other than sight: touch and feel. And if you’re wondering how welding, which generally uses fire, happens underwater, prepare to be shocked: it’s electric. “The process is very similar to regular welding,” he explains, “but you do get a couple of good shocks every now and then. After a while, you get used to it.”

Ben has always loved being in the water, but apart from being on the swim team in high school, he had no welding or scuba diving experience before he decided to train to become an underwater welder. After trying community college in his hometown of Grafton, Wisconsin and feeling like he hadn’t found his calling, he got a job as a robotic welder. Welding seemed to be his niche, but he still wanted more adventure.

In 2019, Ben left his hometown of Grafton and headed to Seattle to start his training at the Divers Institute of Technology. After graduation in 2020, Ben was recruited by

Smith LaSalle, a structural engineering company with locations in Chicago and Paducah. LaSalle specializes in marine, waterfront, and offshore engineering for heavy industry.

His work for LaSalle has taken him around the country and even out of it. Since August of 2022, he’s spent all but two weeks out of town traveling for work, completing projects in rivers, lakes, and oceans around the country. His work has even taken him as far away as Japan.

“The work is so much more varied than one might

expect. We do more basic work like muscle surveys where we bring muscles out of the water for analysis, all the way to underwater inspections for barges and loading facilities for grain and coal,” Ben states. “We even do new construction projects like when we put in an outfall line for a power plant last fall. We’ve done local repairs on Ingram barges, and we recently did inspections on a foundry in Calvert City.”

Despite the variations in temperature, Ben works throughout the year. In the winter, he and his colleagues

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While he’s never seen whale sized catfish or weird creatures, he notes that it’s possibly due to the darkness and that, sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

wear dry suits that seal off at the wrist and neck, neoprene gloves, and plenty of layers underneath. A Kirby Morgan dive hat weighing 25-35 pounds—similar to the classic US Mark 5 copper helmets that many of us associate with diving—tops it off.

“The helmets are heavy on land but neutrally buoyant underwater,” Ben explains. “They don’t sink or float, and they include a big faceplate, a microphone, and headphones to use if we’re communicating with the boat.”

Ben notes that he’s most often asked, What else is down there? While he’s never seen whale sized catfish or weird creatures, he notes that it’s possibly due to the darkness and that, sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

Despite his young age, this diver recently became a homeowner just outside of town. He’s enjoying exploring the region and looking forward to more winters with less snow than he grew up with. “The work I do is really fun, and it is exciting to travel, but I’m also enjoying settling into the region,” he notes. “Paducah is a fun city, and I’m glad to be here.”

March Evening Upstairs

A Centennial History of Murray State University by Robert L. Jackson, Sean J McLaughlin, Sarah Marie Owens

McCracken County Library 555 Washington Street
March 16  5 PM Book Signing
5:30 Presentation

Say Your Piece

of History at WKCTC,

the Quilt Museum’s New Exhibit her Academic Voice in an Artistic Setting

IIn a large rectangular space near the center of the National Quilt Museum, Black women are saying their piece. An 82 x 58-inch quilt featuring Harriet Tubman welcomes museum goers to an exhibit which exemplifies the striking and diverse collection of stories, struggles, and strides of Black women across history.

Stacey Watson

The exhibit is the first of a three-part series conceptualized and curated by Stacey Watson, a history professor at WKCTC and Director of Equitable Partnerships at the museum. Titled, “Say Your Piece, Black Women: Mothers, Martyrs, and Misunderstood,” the exhibit shares a multi-layered timeline of Black women’s experiences in America told solely by Black female quilters. Using a diverse range of quilting techniques, the exhibit touches on painful, poignant, and promising moments in Black women’s history.

“It was important to me to bring museum goers into the exhibit by seeing Harriet Tubman guiding these quilters and, all of us really, into freedom,” Stacey explains. “Say Your Piece is my brainchild. I’ve learned a lot about quilts and quilters working at the museum, and I have learned there is an expectation about what a quilt should look like as well as the debate regarding the definition of a quilt according to the quilting community. When I created Say your Piece, I wanted it to include quilts that spoke on multiple levels for themselves while collectively sharing my other passion, which is teaching history.”

Often overlooked topics like maternal mortality rates for Black women, the history of female lynching, the experiences of violence against the Black female transgender community, and police brutality against Black women are all given voice in this quiet, yet tactile, silent, yet visceral space.

“As a history professor and Black woman, I can tell you what has happened, but it’s an even stronger message to see it displayed through art,” Stacey states. “There is a strong history of Black quilters, and for some reason they’ve often been excluded from this field in the modern day. I wanted to create a space that says: what you’ve done is good enough, what has happened to you is important, and what you have experienced matters. I wanted the quilters to know that they are in a safe space and know their ideas and work are welcome.”

Apart from its storytelling, the exhibit displays a wide range of technical work, ranging from hand-quilted and hand applique to tapestry, piece quilts, and machine-made pieces. At the exhibit’s opening last fall the museum partnered with local Black-owned businesses for food and entertainment to mark what National Quilt Museum (NQM) hopes will be a new era of engagement and partnerships with the full demography of our local community. Matt Collinsworth, CEO and Director of the Museum, spoke on the importance of her new role.

“As Director of Equitable Partnerships at NQM,

“People want to know that there is space for who they are, that there is a sense of warmth and welcome feeling for them.We want all people from the local community to know that they are welcome at the museum and to know that we are here to serve the community in a much more diverse way.”

Stacey’s primary role has been to work with our curatorial team to develop programming that reaches underserved segments of our community and to develop productive relationships,” Matt explains. “Her experience as an educator always shines through in what she does. Because of her role at the museum, we’ve become much more active with our local community. While NQM has long hosted exhibitions featuring the work of Black quilters, I’m not sure that those messages were being delivered effectively to the African American community here in Paducah. Stacey’s work has been key to helping us build those bridges, build trust, and become the kind of museum that is comfortable for everyone in our community to visit. Stacey’s efforts and ideas have been key to the museum taking direct action to remove barriers to access. Our staff, board, and visitors are all very excited about the work that she’s done and plans to do. In a short time, Stacey has become a key member of our team, and we’re lucky to have her at NQM.”

A spoken word open mic night at the museum in February served as the culminating celebration for the exhibit. Stacey is excited that this part of the program will bring in a younger generation to speak to the exhibition as they have the chance to speak about what they’re seeing by saying THEIR piece in a creative way.

In celebration of Black History Month in February of 2021, Stacey organized a presentation called “Black Paducah: Then and Now.” The presentation covered the


history of some of the most popular events and notable people in the city’s African American community. Presentations on the 8th of August, May Day, and Old West Kentucky were shared along with a look at the future and gains of those who are currently pushing Paducah forward.

In November of that year, Stacey also helped organize, market, and manage the “Meet the Artist” reception when the NQM brought quilter, textile artist, and former teacher Valerie C. White’s exhibit to town.

“The feedback I’ve gotten is that the Black community felt welcomed, represented, and acknowledged in this space,” Stacey states. “It is jarring to enter a space where no one else looks like you. People want to know that there is space for who they are, that there is a sense of warmth and welcome feeling for them. We want all people from the local community to know that they are welcome at the museum and to know that we are here to serve the community in a much more diverse way.”

Stacey’s barrier-breaking work is not only occurring at the museum, however. As the first Black professor of history at Western Kentucky Community College, she’s bringing new events, classes, and perspectives to campus. Stacey has created an African American History class, the first to be taught at WKCTC, and she has organized multiple events including a visit from Sarah Collins Rudolph, the fifth little girl who survived the 1963 bombing at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

“Interviewing this historical icon was a huge moment in my life. Bringing her in to see she had not been forgotten and to see the history, the museum, and the inclusion we’re providing at NQM—I don’t have the words to describe what that meant for me,” Stacey comments. “My goal in life was always to be able to both teach and work at a museum, and I’m doing it!”

Stacey’s teaching technique, called “Thinking Like a Detective,” also brought her work into the spotlight when it gained national attention on the Reframing History podcast. Produced by the American Association for State and Local History, the podcast is part of an initiative to provide the field of history education with a set of evidence-backed recommendations for communicating history more convincingly. Like her teaching strategy, the podcast works to help build a wider understanding of what inclusive history looks like and why it is important. Because of her work in the classroom and her impact across campus, Stacey was awarded the 2022 WKCTC Excellence of Teaching Award.

Stacey, who is originally from Michigan, didn’t start her career in history or museum studies. As an undergraduate, Stacey majored in Broadcast Journalism on a full ride scholarship to Central Michigan University. While there, she developed a great love of history, and more specifically

for African American history, during a study abroad trip to Ghana. There, she learned a different version of much of the history she had been taught, sparking a passion for reinvestigating the stories we’ve been told and reexamining the lens through which history has been portrayed.

Because it was too late in her studies to add another degree, Stacey continued to pursue her dream of becoming a news reporter while letting history be her hobby. But when she graduated in 2003, she realized the field of journalism wasn’t exactly what she was looking for. “There were so many restrictions on how I had to look and be,” she notes. “I didn’t want to change how I looked or who I was to fit some mold, so I had to figure out what to do next.”

Stacey’s next step was substitute teaching at a Detroit charter school called Nactaki Talibah Schoolhouse. She worked her way into becoming a social studies teacher

for several grades, an experience that sparked her passion for teaching. Later, after teaching full time at David Ellis Academy West, she decided it was time to pursue a graduate degree in history. She moved to Georgia to attend Fort Valley State University. After graduation, she taught at Gordon State College full time, worked part time at Clayton State University, and moonlighted at Spirit Airlines at night. At the same time, she was completing an internship for her museum studies certification. The grueling schedule did pay off, however. In 2019, Stacey was offered a full-time college professorship as well as access to a museum right here in Paducah!

The impact she’s had on our community in such a short time here is undeniable, and both the college and NQM are grateful for her presence. “It’s a great feeling to be able to be a pioneer to open doors for others, but it’s also surreal being in a position where you are creating opportunities for others for the very first time,” she notes. “I’m excited to keep fulfilling my professional dreams while trying to make a positive impact.”

Stacey Watson interviewing Ms. Sarah Collins Rudolph, the fifth little girl who survived the 1963 bombing at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down Dann Patterson Recalls Three Decades with Delta Airlines H 58
Dann with crew on his final flight from Germany; a quick break beside the Boeing 757 before departing for Cancun; Dr. Ruth Westheimer posing as the pilot with Dann; Dann with Sting, the wrestler; Dannn with B.B. King leaving Amsterdam; Dann with Rev. Jesse Jackson.


Patterson graduated from high school and headed to Murray State University in the early 70s, becoming a lawyer was his singular aim. “However, I did miserable on the LSAT,” says Dann. “I decided to go to grad school, and I thought if I could get a 4.0 then I could try law school. So I did, and I graduated, but I had spent SO much time in school that I didn’t want to go back to the classroom. So, I put the whole law school thing on a shelf.”

Despite that decision, Dann took a job in Judge Robert O. Miller’s office, but after a year of less classroom but still law, Dann shelved a legal career for good. Then, something grabbed his attention. “I had some fraternity brothers who would come back home and tell these really great stories,” Dann recalled. The stories were from new-found travel experiences as flight attendants with airlines such as American and Eastern. “I did my research on who’s who in American business, and I found that if that’s what I wanted to do, Delta was the airline to go with.”

Dann applied. And was rejected. Undeterred, he applied again. This time he put in writing his desire for the job and the skills he could bring to the Delta culture. Two trips to Atlanta and two interviews later, he was rejected again. “The more they said no, the more I wanted it,” says Dann with a grin. So, he applied to Ozark Airlines. The answer was yes.

But . . . Dann wanted to work for Delta. After the Ozark job offer, Dann picked up the phone and spoke to a Delta representative. “I said, I don’t want them, I want YOU.” His persistence paid off. In 1976 Dann began training for his flight team of choice: Delta Airlines. Dann was being honest when he expressed his early devotion to Delta. He was later recognized as the “best of the best” in Cincinnati and was honored to be invited to have lunch with the company’s CEO!

“A lot of people tend to dismiss the flight attendant as a waiter, but that’s far, far from the truth,” Dann explains.

“When you get on that plane, your life is in the hands of that flight crew. We were trained intensely about on-board safety, medical emergencies, evacuations, including over-water ditching. That’s when a plane makes an emergency landing in water. We trained in a pool. There are a ton of details that go into the job that most people don’t realize.”

Dann worked primarily on DC-9s and multiple Boeing aircrafts as well as the L-1011 Tristar. “In the early days, the old DC-8s had tables and booths in first class, almost like in a restaurant. But they were difficult to work. And it was funny because we had smoking sections in the planes back then. It was silly because we’d mark off smoking sections by putting velcro signs on those seats. As if that would help.” Dann ultimately helped lead the charge to eliminate smoking on planes by consistently communicating with Delta’s home office the risks of smoking in a confined space.

Dann proved to be perfect for

Russ was one funny guy and my favorite pilot,” says Dann. “We flew the DC-861 (aka the “stretch 8”) to San Diego where we rented a sailboat and the crew cruised the Pacific.

his career choice. His southern charm and sharp wit created quick alliances with his clientele. “I saw things, over the years that to this day, still surprise me,” Dann recalls. There was the case of the missing cat. “We were going to California, and this girl brought a cat in a carrier. It was under her seat, and it got out. I told her we’d find it. I grabbed a flashlight and went up and down the aisle. I get to the last row, and there was a girl fast asleep, and the cat was under her seat. I got down on my knees in front of her, and I am reaching the cat and pulling it out from under the seat. She wakes up startled. With cat in hand, I just said, Don’t worry, I’m just looking for pussy.”

During his flight tenure, Dann met a lot of celebrities. One early encounter was with Zsa Zsa Gabor. “I was working first class,” says Dann, “and of course that’s where Zsa Zsa would be. I was always entranced by her. She wasn’t rude, but she didn’t really react to my conversation. At one point, she went to the bathroom, and when she came back, there was tissue on her glasses where she had cleaned them. After she sat down, I started picking at her glasses to get it off, and she took off her glasses and said, in her Hungarian accent, What are you doing, dahlink? And in my Caldwell County accent, I said, Miss Gabor, you’ve got some tissue on your glasses. She said, Oh, thank you, dahlink. When we landed, she asked me to help her get to her ext gate. There I was, walking Zsa Zsa Gabor, arm in arm, through the concourse. It was a wonderful moment.”

His favorite encounter was with Loretta Lynn. He was working as a reserve and the plane had already boarded when he arrived. After takeoff, he headed to first class. “When I realized it was really her, I jumped in front of her and said Mrs. Lynn, I’m from Kentucky, too! She laughed and grabbed my chin and said, You’re a cute, young man. I love you already.” Her manager was with her and he asked Dann for his address. Later, Lynn sent him a postcard from London. “I treasure that,” he says. “She was the real deal.”

Dann spent time with B.B. King, John Connally, Rick Pitino, Dr. Ruth, John McCain, George Carlin, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Jesse Jackson, and Col. Sanders and scores of collegiate and professional athletes. “The Colonel looked just like his picture on the bucket,” Dann laughs. He first met Andy Beshear in 2004 who now affectionally calls

him Delta Dann.

Dann often gets the question about close calls in the air. He once crewed a plane that had to circle the airport due to landing gear that wouldn’t deploy. On another occasion he was thrown to the floor when the pilot had to perform a quick maneuver to avoid collision with a military jet. The most intense moment came on a flight from Dallas to New Orleans when turbulence got so severe, Dann describes the inside of the plane as something akin to a popcorn popper. And although he wasn’t working on September 11, he recalls how much the day shook the airline industry to its core.

In 2010 after 34 years in the air, Dann decided it was time to get his feet on the ground. By then, he was

flying internationally. “Those are long flights,” he says, “and it wears on you. And at that time, Delta started offering buyouts. I knew it was the right time. The pay and benefits were excellent, and you learn a lot. I had so many amazing experiences over the years, only because of that choice I made to take flight.”

Dann now serves the industry and his community as a member of the Barkley Regional Airport Authority board. His most recent flight was on the airport’s inaugural trip from Paducah to Charlotte. You just can’t keep a good man down.

Dann joined members of the community this fall on an inaugural flight to Charlotte from Barkley Regional.

Racing Racing


a Wreck

Alex Coltharp and crew take us on track for the 24 Hours of Lemons endurance race where they take a piece of crap car and transform it into an award-winning piece of crap car

DECEMBER 2022/JANUARY 2023 • 63

Lemons Road Racing

IT WAS AN ESPECIALLY TOUGH AFTERNOON ON THE racetrack for most of the drivers. A steady rain had beat down on the asphalt, making handling more tricky than usual. Many were taking that proverbial, white-knuckle drive as they pushed their machines to the limit while avoiding an out-of-control slide. Alex Coltharp rounded another turn. As he pulled into the stretch, he gripped the wheel tighter, pressing the gas pedal to the floor. The steely glare in his eyes intensified. The rain gave him an advantage over the other drivers, and he was looking to exploit it. After all, this was where the front-wheel drive of a 1992 Buick Century performed best.

He powered past a 1980 Plymouth Horizon; a 2003 Ford Thunderbird; a 1979 Ford Pinto. When he blew past the ’89 Toyota Celica, he felt victory might be possible. None of these cars were ever intended to be pushed to such limits. They were never intended to last this long. But because of the 24 Hours of Lemons racing series, they are seeing new life as track endurance machines.

Alex caught the racing bug early, crediting Allan Rhodes for the introduction. “I was in elementary school, and he taught the computer tech class,” says Alex. “He talked about cars, and he ended up taking me to an SCCA race for a track day in Memphis when I was in 6th grade. It was all downhill from there.” Alex got into racing himself for the fun of it, building a couple of cars for SCCA events. A friend invited him to participate as a driver in a 24 Hours of Lemons event, which is an endurance race. His first was at Charlotte Motor Sports Park, and he’s competed in six races since.

The premise of 24 Hours of Lemons is racing for cars that participants bought and track-prepped for $500 or less. The total cost of the car does not include the safety equipment required for each race. Any modification to a car is allowed, although the judges will put any modification toward the total value of the car. If judges think you went over, you may be allowed to still race, but you’ll be starting with a negative lap status. All in all, Lemons allows drivers to get into wheel-to-wheel racing at some of the cheapest costs around. As the organizers say, “Sleeping bags, gas, bologna sandwiches, and car-building costs vary hugely.” Cars must have at least two drivers with no limit on crew members. Everything is tongue-in-cheek and done purely for fun. Some of

the races are straight 24-hour events, while others are run only in the daytime. “That’s what got me into it,” adds Alex. “I liked the overnight aspect of it. We take shifts, driving on one tank of gas each.” That takes roughly two hours to accomplish.

“I am part of a four-person team,” says Alex. “There was an older team of teachers who did charity runs for students. The former Builck team retired from Lemons and sold the car to Matthew Marshall. Three races ago, we put another engine into it. It came out of a Pontiac mini-van. Our team leader, Matthew Marshall, is some sort of GM expert, and he knows everything from every other car that will fit into our car. So yeah, typically anything that is a people carrier would have to have more torque and horsepower to carry seven or eight people, whereas a Buick Century would just carry one old lady to the grocery store.” The team named

The Semi-Sentient Centenarians crew: in the driver’s seat is Andrew Schlukbier; from left are Matthew Marshall, team captain; Clay Campbell; and Alexander Coltharp.
Alex Coltharp with his crew mate, Morty, a Bouvier Des Flandre.

Around& About

themselves the Semi-Sentient Centenarians and made the car their own. Even though there are no sponsors, the Centenarians made the car look like a late-80s Bobby Allison NASCAR entry complete with the Miller High Life logo.

And Alex stresses that you don’t have to be a master mechanic to get into Lemons. “I’ve seen PVC pipe in people’s engine bays. There’s a lot of random stuff. Nothing is souped-up. The main thing is knowing what you need to fix on a car because you are about to blow it up. There’s a lot of redoing seals. And then sometimes redoing those after they are blown on the first lap. And then again after they are blown on the second lap.”

When asked about how their team does in races, Alex pauses. At Lemons, winning isn’t everything. “The car definitely stands out in the grid, and that’s most important,” says Alex. “And we really aren’t supposed to be competitive, I suppose. Look, the first-place finisher in a nice car gets boos. It is about saving terrible cars. And there are various awards at the end. There’s one for a heroic fix, the team who fixed the

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hardest thing mid-race. There’s one called I Got Screwed, and that goes to the team who has the most terrible story as to why they didn’t get many laps done. The main thing is to keep a piece of shit going to the end.” The team has made it to the checkered flag in every race they’ve participated in, which is the true, overall goal for any Lemons racer.

“It is addictive, for sure,” adds Alex. “When a person gets interested in motorsports, one of the biggest barriers to actually doing it is money. Lemons is one of the best ways to get actual wheel time on a track. It is a cheap threshold. In fact, those who spend too much money on a car get punished. Plus, we go to some of the most important tracks in the country — Sonoma, Road Atlanta, Virginia International Raceway — places where you can see NASCAR events, IndyCar races, and things like that. You see the professionals there, and months later, you are there in a Buick Century.”

Keep up with the Semi-Sentient Centenarians by following them on Instagram under @100sentientlemons

And look for 24 Hours of Lemons on social media.

Newly Elected President of the Kentucky Bar Association

McMurry & Livingston, PLLC celebrates the election of W. Fletcher McMurry Schrock as incoming President of the Kentucky Bar Association. Fletch is the first attorney from Paducah to hold this position since Judge Thomas B. Russell in 1991. All of us at McMurry & Livingston are proud of our colleague and honored that attorneys from across the Commonwealth of Kentucky have chosen to support him for this position. We wish him every success in his leadership role as he represents our firm and over 19,000 attorneys across the Commonwealth in this most highly regarded office.

Broadway, Paducah KY • 270-443-6511
is an adverTisemenT Congratulations to W. Fletcher McMurry Schrock
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Certified Safety Professional

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An Industrious Young Woman Finds Her Devotion To Excellence Has Led To A Federal Appointment On Safety And Health

AYME HOBSON WAS RECENTLY APPOINTED TO the Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety & Health (FACOSH), a presidential advisory board to the United States Secretary of Labor. So, I guess you could say that Jayme is the definition of “small-town girl makes good!”

From the time she was a senior in high school, Jayme knew she wanted to help people. Her English teacher encouraged her to discover her passion and purpose in life, and what fulfilled her. Knowing she cared about people, she instinctively job shadowed someone in the health care field, but quickly learned that wasn’t for her. She decided to shadow a family friend at a local plant in Calvert City who was a safety manager. Amidst a maze of pipelines and production systems, Jayme found her calling.

Deciding to become a safety professional was a rather unconventional route, as at that time most people came to that realization later in their college experience or even after entering the workforce. But Jayme jumped in head first at Murray State, knowing exactly the direction she was headed. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety and Health/Safety Management and a Master of Science in Occupational Safety and Health and Industrial Hygiene.

Jayme currently represents the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)



in her FACOSH Management appointment. She has been employed at TVA in the role of Enterprise-Safety Manager-Operations since 2021.

FACOSH is a public forum for federal agency management and labor representatives to discuss federal employee safety and health program and policy issues. The Council advises the Secretary of Labor on matters relating to the occupational safety and health of federal employees. This includes providing advice on how to reduce and keep to a minimum the number of injuries and illnesses in the federal workforce and how to encourage each federal Executive Branch department and agency to establish and maintain effective occupational safety and health programs. The Assistant Secretary

of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) chairs the Advisory Council.

“Occupational safety and health is about protecting people in the workplace,” Jayme stated. “Safety and health professionals help companies create and implement programs and polices that protect employees from workplace hazards,” Jayme explains. “This can mean anything from long-term, chronic illness resulting from chemical exposures to an acute injury resulting from dropped objects or falls from heights.”

Jayme started working in Refinery Operations at Chevron Products Company in California and Texas, then worked for a contractor to the U. S. Department of Energy in Washington State. Although these experiences were invaluable, she longed to get back home to Paducah, or “at least this side of the Mississippi River.” She worked as a contractor on TVA facilities for eight years, then joined TVA about a year ago.

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“I love what I do,” says Jayme. “It’s really exciting. I work with people and learn about how they do their job, what risks they run into, and work to find ways to protect them from the hazards created by and inherent to their work environment. What’s more rewarding than that?”

Being appointed to the FACOSH allows Jayme to take that passion even further through networking and ensuring employee safety on an even broader scale. Ever since she launched her career, Jayme has remained engaged in government affairs and the way public policy affects the workplace. She became more involved when she joined the American Society of Safety Professionals Government Affairs Committee and served on the board of the Construction Safety Research Alliance.

As a professional at TVA, Jayme brings a diverse background to her new federal role and enjoys offering her experience and knowledge to the advisory board. “The utility industry is a hazardous one; we at TVA take pride in doing this work safely. TVA also provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee river systems and works to assist regional areas with its economic development efforts— our perspective is valuable for an organization like FACOSH.”

Jayme is a Certified Safety Professional and was named an Emerging Professional of the Year in 2020 by the American Society of Safety Professionals among other honors. However, her proudest moment was when she received the Safety and Health Recognition Award from the Iron Workers International Union in 2018, highlighting her efforts to address safety and health hazards and illnesses.

“This award came from my customers,” Jayme says, “the people who do the work every day.” It was the first time the award was given to a non-union member and Jayme attributes a lot of her success to the relationships that have come from partnering with the iron workers and other unions.

Jayme truly has a passion not only for what she does, but for whom she does it. She reminds herself and others daily that her #1 customers are the people that do the work on the front lines. She believes a program is successful when there is a culture of safety in which workers understand the “why” and come to work wanting, rather than having, to be safe.

“In my experience the highest performing safety professionals walk alongside and learn from the workers. We as Americans should be proud of the fact that we have the right to work in an environment free of recognized risk. I have the opportunity to reduce that risk. I can’t think of anything else that allows that level of impact and am grateful to have such a rewarding career.”

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W. Fletcher McMurry Schrock Chosen as President of Kentucky Bar Association

As president of KBA, Fletcher Schrock will kick off his term of office this summer by hosting the Kentucky Bar Association Board of Governors in his hometown


Schrock will begin his term as president of the Kentucky Bar Association (KBA), the first president from Paducah to serve since Judge Thomas B. Russell in 1991, more than 30 years ago.

Born William Fletcher McMurry, IV – the McMurry from the familiar firm of McMurry & Livingston – Fletcher Schrock is the nephew of W. Pelham McMurry, who co-founded McMurry & Livingston in 1966. Pelham McMurry had a twin brother, Fletcher’s father, who was a West Point graduate, went to Korea to fly bombers, and was killed six months before Fletcher was born. Fletcher never knew his father, but growing up, he knew his uncle, who looked just like his father. Pelham McMurry was a lawyer, county attorney, and county judge, who later partnered with Milton M. Livingston, Jr., to form the law practice McMurry & Livingston in 1966. Fletcher was naturally drawn to Pelham.

“Growing up, I always wanted to be like my uncle,” Fletcher remembered. “I looked up to him. He was a smart lawyer, a wonderful storyteller, and the epitome of a Kentucky lawyer. He was a great mentor to me and encouraged me to get into the law. I grew to love the law and in March

1977 I came to Paducah to practice.” Fletcher’s mother eventually married a man named Schrock, which became Fletcher’s last name.

Fletcher Schrock has been primarily practicing personal injury, criminal law, product liability, and general civil litigation in state and federal courts since 1977. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree with high distinction with a major in sociology from the University of Kentucky in 1974. He graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1976. In 2013 he was named Pro Bono Attorney of the Year by the Lawyers Care Volunteer Attorney Program. In 2019, Fletch began his transition to Of Counsel status.

Fletcher is a member of the McCracken County, Kentucky and American Bar Associations. He has served the KBA on the Ethics Committee, the Ethics Hotline, the Rules Committee, and the Board of Governors.

KBA is an independent agency of the Supreme Court of Kentucky tasked with the responsibility of regulating the legal profession in Kentucky. It was a voluntary bar beginning in 1871 and began as a mandatory bar in 1934. Its authority is delegated by the Kentucky Supreme Court through rules derived from the Kentucky Constitution. KBA exists to make lawyers better and to make the


Fletcher McMurry Schrock

rendition of legal services to the public better through maintaining proper discipline of lawyers, ensuring a continuing high standard of professional competence and promoting the efficiency and improvement of the judicial system.

One important service provided by KBA is an Ethics Hotline staffed with at least two trained volunteer attorneys in each Supreme Court District. These volunteers work under the direction of the KBA Ethics Committee and are authorized to provide advice promptly upon request to members who wish to determine the ethical course to take in a situation. The informal opinion, if based upon an accurate statement of the facts, and followed, can serve as a defense to a potential complaint of misconduct. An attorney who has a question about whether his or her conduct might run afoul of the rules of professional conduct can phone the ethics hotline and receive reliable advice in order to be protected in the case of a future conflict. Fletcher began his service to the KBA as a volunteer for the Ethics Hotline and as a member of the Ethics Committee in 2009.

Around 2014, Paducah attorney Jonathan Freed, as he was finishing his service on the Board of Governors, encouraged Fletcher to run for a seat on the Board of Governors, the governing body of KBA. Though this had never been on Fletch’s radar, he decided to give it a shot – and this became one of the highlights of his career.

Two attorneys from each district in Kentucky can run for the Board of Governors. They can serve a maximum of three, two-year terms. The Board effectuates the discipline process, establishes the budget, oversees the various KBA committees, and works with the Young Lawyers Division. “The highlight of my time on the Board was getting to know attorneys from across the state; their influence on my life was huge,” Fletcher reflects. “My service on the Board and my contact with these other talented attorneys made me a better attorney.”

His plan was always to serve the maximum of six years on the Board and rotate off, but later in his service in 2019, Fletcher was again encouraged, this time by KBA president J. Stephen Smith and other members of the executive committee, to enter the officers track, something he had never thought of doing.

“I viewed the officers track as a notch above anything I could accomplish. The last KBA president from Paducah, Tom Russell, became federal district judge in 1994. Those were big shoes to fill. I always felt that was ‘not me,’ but through the encouragement that I received, and the more I thought and prayed about it, I felt this was a great

opportunity. I was certainly willing to work hard and learn what was necessary. So I decided to run for a position as officer.”

The KBA officer election process starts with individuals obtaining signatures from their district before submitting their name to run for vice president. If more than one person runs, they have a run-off vote before one attorney is selected. Fletcher became vice president in 2021. The next step, president elect, requires signatures from across the state from each Supreme Court district that is nominating an attorney for that position. Fletcher secured the president elect position for 2022-2023 and will automatically become president the following year. On July 1, 2023, he will replace KBA president Amy Cubbage, “a brilliant lawyer who has done a fine job and was former counsel to Governor Andy Beshear,” says Fletcher.

The KBA presidential term is one year. “Past presidents have indicated the year goes very fast, and there’s never enough time to get done what you want to get done,” Fletcher remarked. “I’m excited to do what I can to help Kentucky lawyers and help the public get access to justice. This is an opportunity for me to give back to a profession that has been so good to me.”

After his term as president, Fletcher will serve as past president for 2024-2025, then will be called upon to serve in other volunteer positions to continue to help steer the ship in other ways. For example, one of the former presidents of the KBA, the late Doug Myers, from Hopkinsville, served on the strategic planning committee after his presidential term to help KBA plan for the future.

Fletcher’s focus for his presidential year still remains to be determined. The initiative for several years has been on attorney well-being. KBA’s Kentucky Lawyers Assistance program helps lawyers and judges with increased risk of mental health issues and substance abuse because of the nature of the practice. “If we have learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that we don’t do well in isolation,” Fletcher notes. “As human beings we need each other, and that goes for attorneys – we need to stay connected and have each other’s backs.”

Another continued focus will be the rural practice of law and the need for more lawyers to locate to rural areas. A number of counties in western Kentucky have very few lawyers, and Fletcher plans to continue working on initiatives to land lawyers coming out of school in some of these rural areas.

Fletcher also hopes to continue developing the recently


established KBA program, SOLACE (Support of Lawyers/Legal Personnel All Concern Encouraged), which started in Louisiana in 2002 and has now been adopted in 26 states, including Kentucky. “It’s a simple program – any attorney or legal personnel who is experiencing a crisis and has a non-monetary need can make a request of the program. Volunteer attorneys are ready to meet whatever requests they can. Other SOLACE programs have addressed needs as small as a computer or office supplies to as large as a private airplane flight and extended housing for medical care.” SOLACE was instituted following the recent disasters in Kentucky with the 2021 December tornadoes and the most recent floods in Eastern Kentucky.

In addition, Fletcher is planning to promote Paducah more within the KBA. Each president hosts a summer meeting of the Board of Governors and selects certain activities and the location, most often the president’s home city. The KBA summer Board of Directors meeting in July 2023 will be held in Paducah. About 50-60 people will be here to do the business of the KBA while also enjoying what Paducah has to offer. “I’m looking forward to exposing a lot of people to Paducah, the activities available here, and the great food we have. Many of the leaders in the Young Lawyers Division and those lawyers from across the state working on the Continuing Legal Education Committee and serving on the Board of Governors have never been to Paducah. This will be an exciting way to showcase our city.”

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LastWord the

SAGE HOFFMAN is a 17-year-old senior attending Paducah Tilghman High School. They have plans of attending Western Kentucky Technical Institute and majoring in graphic design while getting their welding certification. In their free time Sage loves listening to music and going to concerts . . . and creating art. “This piece was created as a study of color and facial features,” Sage explains. “It was created during a summer art program at Paducah School of Art and Design.”

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”
—Maya Angelou
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Meredith Schroeder has had complete confidence in Paducah Bank for almost 40 years—so much so that she was asked to join the Board of Directors in 2002.

“I have watched this exceptional bank grow into, without doubt, the best community bank in our area,” she believes. “That level of excellence requires vision, passion, dedication, great people, and outstanding service. All of which are hallmarks of the Paducah Bank experience.”

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