Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

February 1, 2014

Leaving jail with a GED

CATLETTSBURG — With obstacles ranging from math skills to money issues, some inmates at the Boyd County Detention Center said they never imagined they could ever get a GED.

“It was hard to take the time out of our busy schedules and stuff,” one man in orange jail clothes joked as nearly a dozen inmates gathered in the all-purpose room at the detention center for a ceremony honoring their achievements Friday afternoon.

Bryan Lee Coleman of Pikeville said he went to work as a coal miner at an early age and never had a need for a high school diploma or GED.

“I only needed my surface-mine card,” he said, later explaining he was in the local jail because of “bad choices on drugs.”

As she entered the room, Coleman’s mother, Barbara, made eye contact with her son and proclaimed it was the first and only time she would ever see the inside of a jail. At the end of the ceremony, Coleman couldn’t hold back the tears when his mother gave him a tear-filled hug and proclaimed she was extremely proud of him for taking advantage of the opportunity to improve his life while incarcerated.

Sitting in two rows, the GED-earning inmates said the accomplishment definitely encourages them to pursue even higher education, with career goals ranging from welding to flight school and mechanics to medicine and social service work. Davon Lee-Edward Paige, 20, said the idea of obtaining a GED while on the streets of Detroit was a far-fetched idea, and he now looks at his time in jail as an unusual sort of blessing. Each of the men credited fellow prisoner Josh Gundy of Huntington, who was tagged with the nickname “Ted” (reflecting the similarity of his last name to that of a famous serial killer), with helping them make the grade.

“Ted tutored us all,” one said, causing the rest to nod in affirmation.

Detention Center staff member Tony Daniels smiled as he added his personal regards to James Robert Pumphrey, who he said initially resisted the idea of pursuing his GED.

“He didn’t think he could do it,” Daniels said. “I think he surprised himself.”

Kevin Andrew Wilson offered his appreciation to detention center staff who encouraged him as he worked to get his GED.

“Growing up, I never had support like that,” he said, explaining his mom and dad had dropped out of school as well as his siblings, and he quit after struggling during his eighth grade year.

Adult Education Instructor Sherry Combs received a round of applause as she entered the room, causing her to blush and turn the compliment back to the captive audience.

“All I did was give them the tools to work with,” she said, adding a note of personal admiration for the mens’ perseverance and dedication. She later advised them she had found a statistic indicating 40 percent of high school graduates would be unable to pass the exam they had to take to get their GED certificates.

Before calling each man forward and presenting his GED, Jailer Joe Burchett encouraged the men to build upon the foundations they have started building.

“I’ve been watching you. When you came in here, you were in bad shape. Now, you’ve got clear eyes. You’ve overcome the odds,” Burchett said, later asking them to rejoin their own families and stay away from jail.

“Don’t come back to this place. Life is too short to be miserable in this jail.”

Those who graduated Friday inclue Brandon Bostic, Alec Burress, Bryan Coleman, Michael Crisp, Joshua Gundy, Terrance Mosley, Davon Paige, Weston Porter, James Pumphrey, Anthony Williams and Kevin Wilson.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.

Text Only
Local News
  • 0420mongol1.JPG A ride to remember

    Riding 50 miles a day is no big deal to Amy Whelan.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0418melodies.jpg Melodies & Masterpieces returns Friday

    Anyone strolling through downtown Ashland at lunchtime Friday will have a chance to enjoy the artistry of one of the area’s most-respected guitarists as Chris Kitchen kicks off the return of the Melodies & Masterpieces series on Judd Plaza.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418odell.jpg MSU professor appointed state geographer

    Dr. Gary O’Dell, a professor of physical geography at Morehead State University, was named state geographer in January.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill to benefit AK Steel

    During the 11th hour of the General Assembly, a bill extending important sustainable incentives for AK Steel’s Ashland Works was pushed through for approval Tuesday night.
    House Bill 483 was created to extend the plant's incentives provided by the Kentucky Industrial Revitalization Act in 2004.

    April 16, 2014

  • Pathways begins autism services

    Pathways has extended its community outreach in a big way by providing services for families facing autism.
    Lena Harmon, central director for the company's Kentucky Impact Youth Council, said these services can save families the trouble of being added to long queue lines in Cincinnati and Louisville.
    Harmon said she has heard some families testify having to wait up to 12 months for appointments in faraway cities.

    April 16, 2014

  • Russell academic new dean at OUS

    Nicole Pennington chose a two-year community college degree track in 1991 because she wanted to enter the nursing work force with as little delay as possible.

    April 16, 2014

  • 1936 Indian lasting wedding gift

    When it came time to present his future wife with a symbol of his undying devotion, Virgil Erskine gave her a 1936 Indian motorcycle instead of a diamond ring.
    “I’ve always called it my wedding present. It’s my diamond ring,” said Charlene Erskine, explaining she and her husband were married at Sturgis, S.D., in 1983, found the antique Indian Sport Scout in 1984 and had it restored and on the road in 1985.

    April 16, 2014

  • Boyd Democrats take floor at Elks

    Boyd County Democrats met at the Elks Lodge for a matchup between candidates for two of the hottest primary races in Boyd County: sheriff and judge-executive.
    The candidates, sponsored by the Boyd County Democratic Women’s Club, each took to the podium to face the crowd Tuesday night and discuss the candidacy and platforms for the race that is still over a month away.

    April 15, 2014

  • Shay receives 38 years for fatal shooting

    Casey R. Shay, 27, of Morehead, was sentenced Monday to 38 years in prison for the fatal shooting last year of Cassandra M. “Cassie” Owens, 21.

    April 15, 2014

  • 0416homegarden.jpg Space not problem with home garden

    Growing your own dinner is not a concept lost on Kenny Imel.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP basketball
SEC Zone