Making a Difference: Helping Kentucky Communities
Many of the problems Kentucky has can be related back to education, to literacy. KET is the answer to most of those problems. To me, it’s just as important as our school system. We must maintain KET and its independence.
attorney, community leader
Putting down deep roots in a community are more than just words to Jim Crawford and Ruth Baxter. The seeds they’ve sown have helped the Ohio River town of Carrollton grow and thrive—and along the way, the KET members have utilized the statewide resource of KET and nourished the fruit it bears.
“From an economic development standpoint, some of the information and ideas KET has featured about what other communities are doing to attract new industry as well as promote the expansion of existing industry has given us ideas of what our community can do,” said Baxter, a founder of the Carroll County Community Development Corp. “They’ve even led to community visits to check out first-hand what other communities are doing.”
Carrollton, like many other rural communities, faces challenges like moving from a tobacco-based farm economy into other enterprises, such as agri-tourism or vineyards. Community leaders like Baxter, a former Chamber of Commerce president, look toward KET to provide a forum to explore ideas such as these.
“Having the programs like Kentucky Tonight and Comment on Kentucky you get people who really debate the pros and cons of the issue—and, to the extent that you can have viewer participation, you also draw in opinions from around the state. KET provides the only forum for that opportunity.”
Avowed news junkies, the couple, who have their own law practice, step up their viewing when the Kentucky General Assembly meets and KET offers daily programming from Frankfort along with nightly wrap-up programs. And every evening finds them devouring The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
“From my perspective the most important thing KET offers is the unbiased news reporting,” said Baxter. “And during the session it’s about your only daily news source for that information.”
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“KET provides, and it’s becoming even more so, the outlet for basic news,” adds Crawford, who also serves as commonwealth’s attorney for the region. “And it’s important to get some good commentary about what’s going on and what they think about it.”
Crawford is particularly cognizant of KET’s value to the schools, having served as attorney for the Carroll County Board of Education for nearly 30 years and representing the Gallatin and Owen schools today as well.
“The partnership between KET and schools has been there for years and continues to be very significant,” he said. “The educational programming is important and it’s important to keep KET alive and well,” he continued.
“Many of the problems Kentucky has can be related back to education, to literacy. KET is the answer to most of those problems. To me, it’s just as important as our school system. We must maintain KET and its independence.”
While education and economic development are never far from the couple’s minds, they also support KET because it provides citizens cultural enrichment.
“KET programming is part of the library programming,” Baxter said. A community book club as well as the annual Carroll County Reads program coordinates its selections with bookclub@ket and Kentucky Author Forum Presents.
“Last year as a community we read Three Cups of Tea, about how Greg Mortenson went to Afghanistan and set up the schools for girls,” she said. As part of the project, the community viewed the Kentucky Author Forum program featuring Mortenson. Later, high-school students who participated in the project collected pennies to help fund the schools, just as Mortenson did to launch humanitarian campaigns promoting education and literacy in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“So you see, you don’t realize all these ways KET reaches out to communities, touching them, giving them all these ideas,” Baxter said.
“It’s all interrelated,” her husband noted, “and it’s all related to KET.”