HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. (AP) - “Apples and oranges,” he muses, turning the matter over in his mind.
Comparing his hometown of Hopkinsville to Memphis is like that, said Blaine Lynch, a Hopkinsville native who moved away in 2011, worked for an engineering firm in Memphis and returned home last year.
Four and a half years in the big city, in a foreign city, and Lynch, 30, found that he missed, not just home and family, but Hopkinsville, a corner of the world that folks boast proudly of, he said, a place where, no matter where you go, someone has a story about someone from Hoptown, a place that he loves.
“The community of Hopkinsville is what helped to raise me,” observed Lynch, who returned to his hometown to work as a transportation engineer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Highway District 2. “That old adage, ‘it takes a village . ‘ It was not just my neighbors, family and parents that raised me.
“It was Hopkinsville.”
Lynch grew up playing with Legos.
He was active in sports and recalls ringing the Salvation Army bells in his youth. Fellow bell ringer David Howell went the extra mile during those excursions and sang Christmas carols, Lynch recalls.
He was there to hear his friend.
A young Lynch attended Belmont and Millbrooke elementary schools.
With a smile on his face, he describes his “favorite teacher of all time,” Mrs. Iona Lee, his third-grade teacher at Millbrooke.
“She was just really sweet,” Lynch said. “Sweet and caring, and it just stood out to me.”
He notes that his parents, retired District Judge Arnold Lynch and wife Ruth Lynch, an employee of the Christian County Board of Education, always had high expectations for him and his sister when it came to education, and those high expectations served to shape the younger Lynch’s mind and his outlook on school.
He excelled at math and science and accepted well the challenge of classes like trigonometry, calculus, geometry and algebra at Hopkinsville High School. Lynch finished his studies and graduated in 2004, one among some 250 Tiger classmates and just barely edged out of the Top 10 by another friend, Daniel McBride.
He and McBride had a lot of classes together, and they were competitive.
But Lynch came close, probably 11th or 12th in his graduating class, he said.
He went on to attend the University of Kentucky, never straying from his plans to study civil engineering. Professors’ warnings that one out of every three students in their classes would change majors served only to motivate him more, he said.
HARD TIMES AND GOOD
Determined not to be one of the three, Lynch continued his studies through “the hard times and the good times,” completing his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2008. His master’s degree in civil engineering came two years later, and with that, Lynch also completed a focus in transportation.
He said it was his stint working as a laborer for a local bricklayer that initially piqued his interest in engineering. Beginning after his junior year in high school, he spent several summers with the company and enjoyed the whole building process. At the time, he thought that building a building was what engineering was.
“That’s kind of what drew me to want to go into civil engineering,” he explained.
Efforts to describe his chosen vocation prompted comparisons to architecture, which he defines as constructing something in the vertical, like a skyscraper. But engineering? Now that is building in the horizontal, he said, explaining that “in engineering, we build a road that goes on the horizontal plane.”
Lynch has offices in a building adjacent to Hillcrest Baptist Church off Skyline Drive.
His district oversees road projects in Christian and Caldwell counties, and he spends his days managing road construction projects, inspecting those projects and handling budgets.
It’s his office that makes sure the contractors get paid.
He and fellow engineer Craig Wyatt visit road construction sites several times a day.
They talk with inspectors and contractors and make sure the projects are on schedule. Their office also oversees maintenance projects for existing roadways and prepares all the paving jobs for major roadways and rural secondary roads in Christian and Caldwell counties.
“I do have a love of transportation,” Lynch said. “My love is for making the public’s commute as easy and as seamless as possible.
Whether it be through construction of a new road, the rehab of a road or managing traffic, it’s all about easing the commute of the traveling public.”
An advocate of all things math and science, Lynch also has an affection for problem-solving and critical thinking. He enjoys looking at a problem and thinking through what the solution to it would be, working alongside other folks in his office to “come up with the best and most economical solution,” he said.
When it comes to fixing things, Lynch has always been kind of meticulous.
His love of math and science steered him to engineering, and a grasp of those difficult classes in high school, the likes of trig, geometry and calculus, helped prepare him for college ahead.
“They were hard classes, but they proved to be valuable because the teachers were tough on us, and they expected a lot out of us,” Lynch said, looking back on those early days. “I think those teachers and classes helped prepare me to know how to study in college.”
FAMILY IN THE CITY
In college, Lynch met his wife Vanessa.
She was a student at Eastern Kentucky University while he was at UK.
They met in Lexington and got married there in 2014, moving to Memphis.
But he and Vanessa, who is from Burgin in central Kentucky, knew one day that they would want to return to Kentucky and raise their family. The job in Hopkinsville was an opportunity when it came open last year, Lynch said.
Coming back to the city, he has embraced his hometown.
He and Vanessa enjoy bike rides and camping and visiting state parks in the area. They take their Yorkshire terrier to the new dog park, and daughter Kaylyn is a student at Millbrooke, just like her dad was all those years ago.
Lynch is active once again at Virginia Street Baptist Church, where he was a member of the Sunday school and youth department as a child.
Now he serves as a Sunday school co-teacher at the church, is president of the Laymen’s League and vice president of the Youth and Young Adult Choir.
As a youth himself at Virginia Street, he formed bonds and hung out with friends.
“Now we’re having kids, and those kids are doing the same things we did,” he mused. “It’s good to see those things and have it come full circle.”
Lynch said he enjoys helping others, loves coaching his daughter’s soccer team at the Hopkinsville YMCA and strives to be a good example every day whether in private or public.
“Somebody’s always got eyes on you,” he said, adding that “I want to be a good example for my family, my daughter and my wife so I try to carry myself as a godly man, as a god-fearing man.”
He hesitates to share his personal goals for the future, preferring instead to keep them private and close.
But he offers a word of advice for the youth, encouraging them to pursue math and the sciences, which he describes as fields of discipline that he believes will do well for them in their future lives.
For his community, he wishes continued growth and good leadership.
He hopes to see activities that will attract families, keep them involved and encourage them to stay in the city.
“I envision Hopkinsville as a place where I can take my family out and see other families out enjoying themselves doing things together,” he said. “That’s what I envision as the future for Hopkinsville.”
Information from: Kentucky New Era, https://www.kentuckynewera.com
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