With Christmas behind us and the New Year upon us, it’s a good time for reflection and revving up.
First, a look back.
It’s been a tough year for our communities with the deaths of some influential people — some of them dear friends of mine.
We said a sad goodbye to former Independent editor Mike Reliford in February. He was not only a friend but a mentor. After working together for more than 35 years, Mike was more like family. He was also a champion of the community where he lived, choosing to work here for a lifetime and make a difference.
Mike did that with a style that was all his very own and his presence and guidance in our newsroom is still very much missed.
I thought of Mike often during the Christmas season because nobody loved that time of the year much more than he did. He was always especially jolly during December. Ask reporter Carrie Stambaugh about the Christmas prank that was played on her during her first year here as a reporter of which Mike was a prime culprit.
Four other friends of mine — some of them unbelievable friends to the area’s sports community — also left us in 2012.
Longtime attorney Bun Wilson, talented artist Dave Taylor, former Boyd County basketball coach and ex-Fairview star Brice Thornbury and longtime official Ron Dixon all died far too soon.
Bun Wilson helped a countless number of people in the community throughout his long life with his genorosity and advice. Everybody knew Bun and loved him. He was an original, that’s for sure.
Dave will be with us through his many drawings (Just come to my office sometime and I’ll show you a few).
Brice’s impact came not only as a coach but a counselor and lifelong educator who made a difference in so many lives.
Dixon did everything he could to make officiating better in the area.
We also said farewell to longtime businessman Don Korros, who put his heart and soul into Ashland.
Don was a legendary figure in the local business community for more than 60 years and operated Don’s Men’s Shop when our downtown was in its golden age. It remains a downtown staple today.
Mr. Korros was instrumental in bringing youth football to Ashland through the Optimist Club, one of many civic organizations where he was always involved.
Ashland businessman and property owner John Christie died in 2012 at a young age. While he never made a show of it, Christie also generously donated space in his buildings to a number of local nonprofit agencies.
Jim Fout, the man who started River Cities Harvest, also passed away in 2012. He was a tireless volunteer who did so much for so many throughout his “retirement” years with River Cities Harvest and his work at the Ashland Tennis Center.
Few people stayed busier than Mr. Fout, who has a legacy that will not be soon forgotten in these parts. He is another of these unreplacable people who did whatever he could to make Ashland a better place to live.
These are just a few who came to mind. There were others who were instrumental to the area’s successes that I failed to mention and, for that, accept my apologies.
But as we look ahead to 2013, I do it with much enthusiasm and optimisim.
One reason for the brighter outlook? Well, I think there are four real good reasons.
‰Bill Hannah, the new Ashland Alliance CEO.
‰Chuck Charles, the incoming mayor of Ashland.
‰Kay Adkins, the new president of ACTC.
‰Jerry Dixon, the new Ashland Area YMCA director.
Given time and patience, those four could make a difference in how we look at things a year from now. They are all four people of tremendous foresight, talent and determination that better days are ahead. Why else would they have taken on these high-profile positions?
They will have ideas that need to be looked at, discussed and considered. Change doesn’t happen overnight but it never happens if we don’t allow ourselves to be open to a different thought process every now and then. Give them a chance to succeed.
Three of these influential people — Hannah, Adkins and Dixon — are coming from outside the area with a perspective that, frankly, should be refreshing. Charles, an Ashland native, proved during his tenure as president of Summer Motion that he knows how to put the right people in place that can make things happen.
While running Summer Motion is far different than running the city of Ashland, he will use many of the same people skills that have made him successful in business and as a festival chairman.
We have these leaders and so many others who love this community enough to make 2013 a year to remember.
And we’ve already got a jump start. The opening of the new Boyd County High School next week is a reason and an example of why we should look ahead to what can be done. It should be a source of pride for all of northeastern Kentucky when those doors swing open.
As we say our final goodbyes to some community leaders who did everything they could to make this area better, let’s do what we can to make their legacy everlasting with the promise of a better northeastern Kentucky in 2013.
Who’s with me?
MARK MAYNARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2648.