- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:


Sept. 15

The Independent, Ashland, Kentucky, on ‘Doughboy’ restoration:

The “Spirit of the American Doughboy” statue that has stood guard at the old Rowan County Courthouse in downtown Morehead for 85 years has been relieved of his duties, but if all goes as planned, he will return to the old courthouse on Veterans Day looking better than he has in decades.

After more than three years of raising money for the project, the Rowan County Veterans Foundation has raised enough funds to begin restoration of the statue. The project is being done in the interest of historic preservation and safety.

The statue has no great historic significance. It is just one of an estimated 300 identical statues designed by E.M. Viquesney that were cast in pressed copper in Indiana in the late 1920s and early 1930s. A similar statue stands in Grayson.

The restoration of the statue and strengthening of its foundation is expected to cost about $8,000.

“History is being made, boys,” Rowan County Veterans Foundation president Danny Knipp said as he watched the statue carefully be moved from the old courthouse to a shop for restoration work.

Those involved with the restoration already have learned that the old doughboy statue is not quite what they thought it was. The original plan called for the statue to be lifted with a crane or bucket truck that could handle 2,000 pounds, the estimated weight of a doughboy, that was believed to be bronze. Closer inspection found that the statue is actually pressed copper and probably weighs less than 200 pounds.

“One organization even turned us down on a bucket truck because his would only lift 350 pounds,” said Knipp. “Now that we’ve just lifted off, we discovered it probably weighs about 150 pounds.”

Sam McKinney, the artist hired to clean the statue, said the discovery of a copper as the material, instead of bronze, would change the way he goes about his work. “I’ll have to research how to deal with it. McKinney said. “I may have to blast with walnut shells so as not to damage the thin skin, which is only one-sixteenth of an inch thick.”

Another discovery made was that the pedestal on which the statue stands may be solid concrete under the façade of stones that are crumbling away. Knipp said that might make the decision on the pedestal a little easier because a new façade would be better and cheaper to build.




Sept. 12

The News-Enterprise, Elizabethtown, Kentucky, on Obama and ISIS:

President Barack Obama stepped before prime-time cameras at the White House on the eve of 9/11 to address a fearful America. During roughly 15 minutes of his address, a four-pronged plan was laid out to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the terrorist organization ISIS.

For those listening and watching closely, reluctance could be felt between the lines of the president’s speech as he committed new military action in the area he so desperately wants to exit.

However war-weary he, our warriors and our nation may be, stepping up this war-footing is necessary.

ISIS clearly is a threat to the United States and its allies. In blistering pace, the ultra-extreme Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has positioned itself to be a formidable enemy across an increasingly volatile Middle East.

U.S. military and intelligence advisers believe ISIS now has some 30,000 militants and observe in their tactics far more sophistication than seen before.

It has amassed a war chest estimated at a half billion dollars generated through kidnapping for ransom plots, oil sales from seized refineries and other radical Sunni sectarian funding.

ISIS is believed to now control a territory of about one-third of Iraq and Syria, making skilled and effective use of weapons small and large - much of it U.S. weapons captured or purchased through the black market.

In short, it is well-organized, well-funded, and a very real and present danger.

To drive back and defeat this enemy, Obama’s plan is to hit them with targeted air strikes in Iraq and wherever else they attempt to occupy or escape; deploy 475 special military advisers to the region; equip and train Iraqi army and Syrian rebels to take the fight to ISIS on the ground; and assemble and coordinate a coalition of other European, Arab and Muslim allies to join in the offensive.

President Obama vowed the U.S. “won’t get dragged into another ground war” in the region. He also cautioned his strategy will take time to be effective in stamping out ISIS - at least three years according to some military advisers and analysts.

And every portion of this strategy is fraught with risk.

Air strikes are problematic against an enemy blending into the civilian population. The first misguided missile or straying bomb that errantly hits a mosque or market killing innocents will enrage unstable Islamic sects in Iraq’s teetering government desperately trying to unite them. The U.S. will be the target of this rage, further aiding ISIS in its recruitment of fresh jihadists.

The Iraqi army remains weak and incapable of defending the country as evidenced by territory lost to ISIS. The Free Syrian Army, Sunni non-jihadist rebels fighting against the Assad regime and who Obama criticized just days ago as “doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth,” will have to effectively fight ISIS with the Iraqis and Kurds. Their necessary success will, in effect, aid Bashar Assad, a sworn enemy of the U.S.

What of the “broad coalition” Obama noted would come alongside us in stamping out ISIS? Although Secretary of State John Kerry mentioned upwards of 40 or so who were part of the group in the days leading up to the president’s speech, Obama named not one of the nine reported to be on board but without any troop commitment.

Equally problematic is the absence of any additional steps to increase security and protective measures here on U.S. soil. In addressing their country’s threat from ISIS, Prime Minister David Cameron brought forth to British citizens a series of new measures to strengthen Britain’s ability to protect its citizens from terrorist activity.

Obama mentioned none for the U.S.

The stakes are high in this new endeavor in the unending war on terror. We and our allies, whoever they are and whatever their military might or meekness may be, must prevail.

And it will depend upon a leader with the resolve and resilience to see it through to the end. Obama must be that leader.

Our nation and its interest in an ever more violent Middle East are depending upon him to be that leader.




Sept. 16

Kentucky New Era, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, on foundation of learning:

It could take years for researchers to determine precisely how the alphabet soup of social media, smartphones and the Internet affect reading habits and intellectual growth in Americans - especially among young learners. But there is already concern that the hopscotch pattern of online reading diminishes the attention span required to stick with a good book from beginning to end.

A story published this week by the Wall Street Journal explores the growing popularity of silent reading parties in several U.S. cities and overseas. Groups gather in coffee houses, libraries and other public places to read printed books and e-books. Many of the participants are rediscovering the pleasure and benefit of slow reading, which simply means to read text from left to right without the option of clicking electronically to another page or an entirely different topic before completing the first piece of writing.

One woman interviewed for the story said, “When I realized I read Twitter more than a book, I knew it was time for action.”

Reading at least 30 minutes a day has been shown to increase intelligence, reduce stress, improve analytical thinking and heighten memory and writing skills. No student succeeds in any subject without a strong foundation in reading. Few adults achieve the benefits of lifelong learning without an appreciation for reading.

This is why we are enthusiastic supporters of Christian County’s Community Reader Day, which sends about 275 volunteers to read to thousands of children in local elementary schools, day cares, Head Start and preschools.

The Christian County Literacy Council organizes the reader day every fall with help from Christian County Public Schools. This year volunteers will be reading in preschools and day cares Nov. 5 and 6. Readers will go to the elementary schools Nov. 7. Anyone who is interested in reading to a class may contact Beverly Whitfield, the literacy council’s executive director, at 270-962-7114.

Community Reader Day shows students that local leaders value reading and learning. It also gives dozens of adults a chance to connect with local educators and to see firsthand why it is important to support the work done every day in local schools.



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