Saturday, September 24, 2016

Local Song Leader Ministers in Africa

According to a map and a mileage meter it's roughly 8,768 miles from
Cedar Springs Kentucky to Zimbabwe Africa. That was a  long trip for
Donald McCombs and his longtime friend and Preacher Brian Gilbreth to
take recently to preach the Gospel.

 Donald is a native of Edmonson County, has been with Cedar Springs United Baptist Church for41 years where he is the song leader and in charge of church music. WhenDonald received the phone call from Brian to come to Africa with him it was more than answering a call, it was a commitment to be away from friends,family and fried chicken for ten days. 

He says "We were answering a call
from God and I wanted to see what the rest of the world is like and to
worship". Zimbabwe which is on the east coast of what used to be called
"The dark continent", has welcomed Christianity going back for centuries.
A plane will get you there in about 17 hours. This is a Country of a kind and
proud people that drive on the left hand side of the road, eat lots of
rice,getting an education means paying for it yourself and running water
and air conditioning is not a given. Local Pastors that have a church usually
get paid $40 a month with a donated food bonus given to them from church
members at week 4. Donald and Brian were gone for ten days and as
Donald will tell you "The trip was a real eye opener ".

Donald may be reached at Cedar Springs United Baptist Church or at
270-784-1213, Brian at Greenhill Methodist Church in Bowling Green.
Jimbob Baird Edmonson News

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Not far from Bowling Green

Not far from Bowling Green life is good at the Porky Pig Diner
The Picture Man up shifted as he hit a flat stretch on highway 31 headed toward Edmonson County and away from Bowling Green. He had noticed earlier that it was a picture perfect blue sky, light breezes and up above, ice crystals of a few wispy cirrus clouds were floating around.

It was the rest day of the week and he wanted to do a little shooting, maybe catch a freight train rolling by, a red-tailed hawk eyeballing a farmer’s field or pretty much whatever would come along. Having checked out the map beforehand just like any good old Boy Scout would, he had decided on the Porky Pig for a cup of coffee and a pause for the cause. Who know, he might get lucky and  even run across a good story or two.

Sunday morning at 7:30 is slow time at the Porky Pig Diner in Pig, a quick
head count showed 16 Diners. This would change as soon as the churches
let out when in a matter of three hours one hundred to one hundred fifty
people would come for the Sunday Buffet.
As soon as the here comes a stranger head snaps were done with, talk,
conversation and gossip returned back to normal. According to one of the regulars, Joe Daugherty, anyone sitting at the big round table was considered to be"Sitting at the story table or at the table of knowledge.”
Joe and grandson
A little
eavesdropping reassured me that the group was doing a fine job of solving
the problems of the world. Owner of the Pig for 21 years, Ramona Durham
flashes smiles and if she has time will tell you that the Diner has been
featured in several national publications. This place is neat, clean, has a
great menu and Ethan and Ramona's cooking makes it smell like
grandma's kitchen.
Breakfast Buffet

The buffet menu usually has four meats including their
famous fried catfish, fried chicken, ham, smoked pulled pork, side dishes
and dessert. The community of Pig got its name when in order to have a
Post Office it needed a name. The townsfolk had a meeting about the
name and basically squabbled about whose last name it should carry until
one farmer saw a hog crossing the road and said "Hey, let's name the town
Pig". Ah, life was good and sometimes easy.

Jimbob Baird for The Edmonson News

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Picture Man goes to the Woodshed

Surrounded by Sycamore trees the Picture Man stood next to the only Beech tree visible in Bill Reek's back yard. He thought to himself that the gray bark of the lone Beech matched the color of the sky almost to a t. Bill Reek's homestead and wood lot are located on 231 on the edge of Butler about a two by four's throw away from Ohio County. What had brought the Picture Man here were rumors of a sawmill cobbled together out of leftovers, spare parts and ingenuity.

After meeting Bill next to his woodshed the two men moved inside. Talking at the dining table in Bill's kitchen several parts of the conversation stood out. Bill spoke in a friendly but direct way someone talks that has been around a while and occasionally needs a little prodding to get at the story. Bill said to the Picture Man "In my day there was no recycling, we called it make dowith what you've got." 
"My Granddaddy was a blacksmith, my daddy was a woodworker and I was born with sawdust in my veins so I just had to follow the way."
He went on to say "I was a carpenter in Illinois until I retired in 1984 and moved here, one daywe had a straight winds that blew down trees in a swath about two hundred feet wide. I couldn't see all that good wood going to waste and not having the money to buy lumbering equipment, I built my own. My first band saw cost me $93.40. I used a chain from a washing machine, bought the pipes and pulley at an auction, the angle iron came from a boat trailer and the engine is from an old Roto Tiller. The wheels for the band saw came from a Rambler American." Hearing all this got the Picture Man excited about the possibility of a real picture story and asked Bill if they could go out back and look over this unusual contraption squirreled away out in the woodshed.
The path to the band saw took the men past an old rusty Rambler American, a few Chevy
Suburbans saved for spare parts and some other mechanical pieces of what used to be
something else. When Bill opened the door to the shed the men were greeted with an wide
assortment of markers from a handyman's history. With parts of trees stacked against the walls and the corners hiding old bicycles, pipes, buckets, tubing, pieces of metal and a blacksmith's anvil the shed was a true handyman's paradise.

 The smell of oil and scorched wood surrounded the masterpiece of ingenuity, the hand built recycled parts Yellow-Jack-It band saw with its smaller electric Thriftwood behind it.. The Yellow-Jack-It Band Sawmill is powered by a 10 h.p.gas operated engine, uses a custom ordered saw blade, is one person operated and can cutlogs up to 36" in diameter. 

With a smile on his face and practiced hands Bill fired up the Yellow-
Jack-It and gave a quick demonstration of what a precision band saw can do to a Sycamore log.
Quicker than a person could say "Those are some sharp teeth," Bill had sliced a quarter inch
piece of veneer from the fat log. He could just as easily cut out a 4x4 timber. Bill still hauls a log or two but his
main order of business is to sell plans for the band saws so anybody can have a band saw mill.

He has customers from all over North America and at least 13 countries. For conversation, a
cup of coffee or to order one of the plans call Bill at 270-5268782 or 270-274-3361.

Jim Baird Beechtree News

Bringing in the Harvest

The picture Man loved to take pictures and write stories almost as much as he enjoyed hearing
a good tale. Once again he was on a mission in search of the perfect picture story.
He was traveling in Butler County on Caneyville Road headed towards Possum Hollow Road
which was in the heart of the County.

 Looking to his left as he traveled he saw what seemed like
countless rows of corn, looking to his right seemed like a repeat of the left side. An occasional
fence post and a Beech tree would break up the monotony. He had once read that if you would
carve a wish on a piece of Beech wood and bury it, the wish would come true as the wood
aged. He also noticed as he drove along that the Fall colors were starting to come in which
meant harvest time was here. Today he would be visiting long time Butler County farmer Pat
Daugherty and observe corn harvesting. Corn or Maize has been used as a food for centuries
and in more recent times was starting to come into its own as biofuel.
Pat Daugherty and his family have been farming the land, or as his wife LeAnn says, “The soil” for five generations, Pat himself for 34 years. The 1400 or so acres that he farms is not part of a giant Company but a family farm.

Pat's dad Chelsey who is 90 years old started his farming days with a mule before he got called to spend time with the Marines in World War Two. Chelsey still gets around the farm to stay on top of what is going on, As Pat will tell you "Once a Marine, always a Marine". The Picture Man realized while riding up high in the six row modern combine that picks 300 bushels every fifteen minutes, is equipped with a computer and a satellite link that there is more to farming than he thought. 

Everyone knows that the weather affects farmers but when Pat started telling him
about moisture content, cover crops, crop rotation, fertilizer, pesticide and soil samples things
seemed to get quite involved. Let there be no doubt that as Pat states "I'm a farmer but I'm also a Business man". Pat’s corn which will be replaced with soybeans, will wind up being feed for beef or chicken stock with a small percentage used as ethanol which is added to gasoline.
When the Picture Man left Pat's field corn operation he took a look back and saw bright
sunshine lots of corn stalks and the men and machines taking care of business. It was a good
day to be bringing in the Harvest.

Jim Baird Beechtree News

Butler County Honey

Butler County Honey

Will be Ready Soon

A recent visit to Bobby McKee’s Butler beehives resulted in me meeting a large number of Italians. Italian bees that is. There are about as many different types of bees as there are cows. As I stepped out of my car to meet Bobby, I could hear thousand of them not more than thirty yards away from me. Bobby and his partner Kenny Kemp maintain 27 hives in different locations. The sound they made reminded me a little bit like the 2 cycle chain saw my dad had running at medium low.I had come to talk to Bobby about Butler bees and he cheerfully complied with an invitation to visit the hives. While Bobby put on his protective gear and fired up the smoker I stood by in my shorts and t-shirt and reminded myself that the best thing to do around bees is to stay calm.

Bobby shot one of the hives full of smoke from his Beekeeper’s bee hive smoker and proceeded to take it apart to educate me.  He explains that “A good healthy hive will produce an average of 120 pounds of honey a year”. I took his word for it, after all he was the one with the suit and bee knowledge going back to his High School years. Bees are social and will live in colonies. Each bee has a job, it might be to fan the hive to keep it cool, feed the Queen, rummage pollen from the countryside or to be a Mortician bee. As Bobby kept working and talking one thing I noticed right away was that these girls are busy! (The worker bees are all girls)  He pointed out to me different areas of the comb filled with pollen, stored honey, baby bees and we even saw her majesty the Queen. The hive will send out scouts in the morning to find where nectar is and they will come back to the hive to let the workers know to come out and get to work. Queens live for years but workers live only for only about a month or so in the summertime. Bees have so much hair that it’s also in their eyes, they can see in color and can flap their wings as fast as 11,000 times a second. Bees are not aggressive by nature and are essential for the pollination of fruits and vegetables. Lighter colored honey probably came from clover while the darker from trees like Tulip or Poplar. Bobby and Kenny belong to the Butler County - Green River Swarm Catchers Association and will sell their honey at local Markets. For more information contact Greg Drake II County Extension Agent at (270) 526-3767

Jim Baird  Beech Tree News

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The County Linemen

Last weekend I kept hearing Glen Campbell’s song ” Wichita Lineman” in my head even though my feet were planted in Bowling Green at the Warren County RECC facility.
The Electrical Co-operative was singled out among many others to host the 17th  Annual Tennessee Valley Public Power Association’s Lineman Rodeo. My head wasn’t in an overload, I just had the opportunity to witness a Contest of learning and skillmanship bysome of the most dedicated workers you can find, the electrical lineman, and the Butler County Linemen are right up there among the best.
There were no horses at this Rodeo, but there were plenty of spurs, harnesses and electric poles sticking up out of the ground.

The Rodeo allows for written testing and features several individual and team contests where the participants are scored on accuracy and amount of time it takes to complete a given task. There were 183 registered Power Company Linemen from Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, 117 actually were there on Friday evening because the Huntsville Alabama team had to make a return trip of 14 hours to go back and fix power outages.
That team made another overnight trip back so they could participate. What I heard many times from different people throughout the Event was “We work for each other” and “We come here to learn.”The tasks at the Rodeo are designed to be both a measure of their skill
and a learning experience. Warren RECC consisted of five team members: Ben Perriman, Andrew DeWeese, Paul Filburn, Chad Cox all from Butler. The fifth team member was Cody Sullivan from Bowling Green. The team took part in several team contests ranging from Capacitor grounding to the Hurtman Rescue. The team was awarded second place in the Hurtman Rescue and third place in Capacitor Grounding.
They also had the honor of leading off the opening ceremonies. Helping to judge the Contest from Butler County was David Hatcher and his official wife, official Clerk Reaunetta. For more information the Event web site is at

the local office of Warren RECC in Morgantown can be reached at (270) 526-3384

Jim Baird

BeechTree News

Mountain Gateway

Come with us to Cumberland Gap National Historic Park where you can enjoy autumn in three states all at once. Located in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky’s Bell County just past the town of Middlesboro with parts of it in the states of Tennessee and Virginia, it’s 26 miles long, covers 24,000 acres and is from 1 to 4 miles in width. The Cumberland Gap is exactly what it says it is, a gap in the mountain range known as the Cumberland Mountains. This is the route that native Americans took to hunt the bison on their winter grazing grounds, Daniel Boone blazed his Wilderness Road and early settlers used it to head out west to seek their fame and fortune. In the Civil War both the North and the South viewed the gap as valuable property and both sides occupied Cumberland Gap twice.

The Gap area has a rich history and a down home culture, but it’s the fall season that really sets it apart with a kaleidoscope of colors.

Just inside the park’s winding entrance road is  the visitor center. This well maintained two story building itself hosts an information center with a museum, interactive displays, a gift shop with items crafted by local artisans and a movie theater. Aptly put by ranger Pam Eddy “The film Daniel Boone and the westward movement is not to be missed”.

Leaving the visitor center on the four-mile long Skyland Road  you will arrive at the  next feature of the park, the Pinnacle Overlook which is at an elevation of almost one half of a mile. Standing on the guard-railed edge you will be able to see Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. Looking out towards Kentucky you can still see the outline of the meteorite crater that the city of Middlesboro was built on.  Sumac bushes, maple, poplar, oak and sourwood trees surround you with all the colors and smells of autumn that your senses can handle.

A few miles northeast of the visitor center is Hensley Settlement. Hiking to the Settlement is possible but it’s best to take the scheduled tour bus from the visitor center, the guided tours last approximately four hours. Set on a plateau and surrounded by chestnut rail fence this Appalachian historic scattering of buildings date back to 1903 when Sherman Hensley decided he and his family would have an entirely self sufficient life. The settlement grew and was prosperous for many years and at one time had a population of close to one hundred inhabitants. Your first look at  Hensley Settlement will make you think, whoa, this was one tough bunch to build all this in the middle of wilderness. You immediately get a real  sense of the word isolation. Many of the buildings still stand today including several cabins, the one room schoolhouse, blacksmith shop and spring house and the cemetery. What you see before you was all built by hand.

There are twenty six known entrances to limestone caves in the park. The most obvious ones have names like gap cave, skylight cave and sand cave. Of these caves Gap cave is the most popular and guided tours will take through these underground caverns. The gap cave has had several names including King Solomon’s cave, soldier’s cave and Cudjo’s cavern .It has been rumored that gap cave in the past was used by highwaymen, runaway slaves and moonshiners. In reality when traveling settlers saw the cave they knew that they were almost through the gap. Later on it was used by civil war soldiers and some of their writing is still visible on the walls. Guide and ranger Scott Teodorsk explains that “The cave is exquisite”The tour lasts approximately two hours and you

 will see drip stone and rock formations with names like Cleopatra’s pool and Hercules Stalagmite”.

Southeast of the visitor center is the town of Cumberland Gap which looks like someone picked up a small town and set it carefully in between some mountains. This is where situated in a small valley and next to running brooks is the iron furnace. This historic landmark is where charcoal, limestone and iron ore were mixed together to make iron in the 1800's.

The park has miles of hiking and horse trails,a fitness trail and  both front country and back country camping. The Wilderness Road campground is located approximately 3 miles from the park visitor center off of Highway 58 in Virginia. There are over 85 miles of hiking trails in the park ranging from short, easy 1/4 mile hikes to the 21 mile ridge trail where you can rent a cabin at Martins Fork. Many re enactments take place here.
As locals Donnie and Sandy Vaughn will tell you “The park is a place we just keep wanting to come back to” and it surely is worth the trip.


By Jim Baird

Kentucky Living Magazine

Photos by Harold Jerrell

and Jim Baird