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Only in Owenton

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By John Whitlock

One of the most striking things I have discovered about Owen County is how much Owen County people love Owen County.

I would hazard to say that most people love their hometown. But the devotion that people here have about their home seems particularly intense.

I stopped by Sav-A-Lot on my way home last week. My wife was visiting family in Corbin and I just needed a few things.

For the record, I hate grocery shopping. I either wanted to grab an 8-pound steak or I shuffle through the aisles for 45 minutes wondering if Captain Crunch can be considered an entree.

I ended up with a bag of premixed tossed salad, some cheddar cheese, a reasonable-sized steak and a two-liter.

When I got to the check-out lane, there were three people in front of me. A lady who was being checked out was at the front of the line, followed by a man with about the same amount of items I had. At the back of the line was a lady with a buggy filled close to the top with several 12-packs of soda and lots of other groceries.

I settled in behind her, resigned to the fact that I would be there for a few minutes.

But the lady with the buggy turned to me and offered to let me in front of her.

A bit stunned, I asked, “Are you sure?”

“Sure, sure, sure,” she said as she moved her buggy.

I turned to her and said thanks.

I soon figured out that this nice lady had also let the man now in front of me ahead of her as well.

He turned to her and said something like, “Well, we’ll just be nice to somebody else.”

“Everyone should be like that,” the buggy lady said.

“But they’re not,” the man said.

“Only in Owenton, only in Owenton,” the clerk said as she finished up the man’s order.

That phrase brought up a chorus of “uh huhs” and “that’s right” from the people around me.

That phrase – “only in Owenton” – immediately stuck in my head.

This exchange didn’t take place for a reporter or in a forum where you would expect such hometown flag waving. These were just normal folks, speaking openly about the pride and love they have for where they live.

I was making my way to my van when another Sav-A-Lot customer asked me if I was a member of the city council. I’m not sure why she thought that. She probably vaguely remembered my face from the paper and made an association.

“No. Sorry,” I said. “I work for the newspaper.”

She explained that she has been trying to contact members of the council in hopes of getting their support for changing some local ordinances that would make it easier to order people to remove junk cars from their property.

She said old junk cars littered across the county is probably the biggest and most easily fixable problem we face.

She wants the city council and the fiscal court to show some leadership and really get behind this issue.

We stood in the parking lot for probably 15 or 20 minutes – in a chilling breeze – just talking about local government, junked cars and stray dogs.

I told her I had been impressed with how much people seem to love Owen County and how active they are in the community – not just in church or athletics – but in making their community better.

•••••

Since I came on board here at the News-Herald, we have made a few changes and have our eye on some more.

One of the first changes we decided on was dropping the month-long calendar of events. Since the events are covered in the briefs section, it seemed kind of redundant and tended to dominate a page that could be used for more news.

Until Thursday night, I’d not had any reaction from the public.

But at the Owen County Chamber of Commerce dinner, I met a gentleman who said he planned his month by the calendar and would like to see it return to the pages of the News-Herald.

We will certainly consider bringing back the calendar if more people call for it.

One of the tricks of operating a newspaper is knowing which features will connect with the public. The only way we have of knowing how the community reacts to change is by you letting us know.

If you see something you like or don’t like in the paper, please let us know either by mail, e-mail, the message boards on our Web site or by simply calling our office.

We would love to hear from you.