Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

December 5, 2012

MARK MAYNARD: Courage defines Ashland leader

ASHLAND — We’re going with a 14-name salute today. Count along with me.

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Congratulations to Ashland city commissioner Kevin Gunderson (1) on winning the Theodore Roosevelt Police Award for courage.

It’s fitting that he’s No. 1 on the list today.

Gunderson received the prestigious award for his decades of continued public service despite being shot in the line of duty as a 24-year-old Ashland police officer. He is the first Kentuckian to be so honored. It was presented on Tuesday by state Attorney General Jack Conway (2). Dozens attended the ceremony at the city building.

Gunderson’s love of Ashland and the northeastern Kentucky community has been obvious for years. He is passionate about what he does as one of our longtime city leaders.

Gunderson, who tries to keep his finger on the pulse of the area, has the respect of the town he serves, too. He leads the voting for commissioners on a regular basis.

Despite an injury that may have sidelined many for life, Gunderson has made it his purpose to make his hometown a better place for everybody. He deserves any accolades he receives.

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Lea Ann Gollihue (3) of For Jamie’s Sake is another area community superhero and she is asking for some help with the fifth annual Special Needs Adoption Program party on Saturday.

Gollihue said sponsors are needed for several children. There is a fee of $100 per child but it can be broken down into four sponsors at $25, two at $50 or any combination that adds up to $100.

There are 30 children registered for the party with no sponsor, she said.

Call her at (606) 327-5511 if you can help.

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Dutch Greene (4), a member of the 1949 Ashland Tomcat football team, called to give further detail on the Tomcats’ shocking loss to Ludlow that season in Putnam Stadium.

As Chet Strother (5) reported earlier, the Tomcats were put through the paces so briskly that week because coach Bob Stoneburner (6) was so upset over a loss to Covington Holmes the previous week.

Greene said that was indeed the case and that Stoneburner practiced Ashland from 2:30 to nearly 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday. When it came time to play on Friday, their legs were gone.

“We didn’t have anything left,” said Greene.

The loss to Covington Holmes was the third of the season and ended any hopes of Ashland playing in the Shrine Bowl in Lexington, a prestigious high school game at the end of the season. Greene said Adolph Rupp (7), who was heavily involved in the Shrine Bowl process, was sitting on the Tomcat sideline with a Shrine Bowl contract when they played Covington Holmes. But when Ashland fell, the Shrine Bowl game went with it.

Stoneburner was so upset he took it out on the players with a week of late-night practices at Putnam Stadium (so he could use the lights). They were exhausted by Friday.

Greene said he heard Stoneburner tell an assistant coach after the loss to Ludlow that the defeat was his fault for being so physically tough during that week of practice.

The game came up recently when Buddy Waite (8), a player from the Ludlow team, called to tell me of his memories of Putnam Stadium, which is targeted for deconstruction this winter. Ludlow, a tiny school in northeastern Kentucky, “shocked the state” in 1949 with the win over the Tomcats. Cliff Loudenback (9) was the Ludlow coach.

So far there has been no movement on the stadium razing but plans are in place for it to happen. Officials are still cutting through some red tape.

Built in 1937 for $6,500 with WPA funds, Putnam Stadium turned 75 years old this season. The safety of the stadium has come into question, which is why the school board approved $1.5 million for the first phase of the $5 million renovation project.

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We’ve had much talk about the piece Fred Simpson (10) wrote for the newspaper a couple of Sundays ago on dealing with Alzheimer’s.

In the article, he discusses what it’s like to go through the early stages of the disease and also how to deal with it. It was certainly a through-provoking piece.

Simpson is a former Ashland resident who grew up here in the 1940s and 1950s where he was a basketball star at Holy Family.

Simpson makes frequent trips back to Ashland for visits and still has many friends here. He gave me permission to give out his cell number. Anyone who wants to reach out to Fred can call him at (859) 534-5329.

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A reader called about the story on Bevo Francis (11), who set an NCAA and NAIA scoring record against Ashland Junior College in 1953 by scoring 116 points.

Later, the NCAA decided that it would not recognize games played against schools that offered only two-year degrees (like AJC). He later scored 113 against a four-year institution, but that record was recently smashed by Jack Taylor (12) of Division III Grinnell with 138 points.

The reader noted that one of Bevo’s teammates was former Boyd County star Jim McKenzie (13). Another backcourt teammate was Jack Gossett (14), who played at Holy Family. McKenzie and Gossett were among the teammates who constantly fed the ball into the high-scoring Francis.

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.

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