The floats, fire trucks and marching band were all in place. Now time to take off, leaving to make a big circle through town, past the Courthouse where everyone would be waiting. The kids were piled in the back of the ’49 Ford pickup, my husband, Bill, keeping warm in the passenger seat, even though the truck lacked heat. I was bundled up, armed with 400 plus candy canes wrapped with my logo, ready to start off through Mayberry.
No this small town is not really THE Mayberry, of Andy Griffith fame. But rather a modern-day version of. Tight knit, you know all your neighbors, and everyone knows the pie at The Smith House is worth the calories. The Sweet Owen Country Store serves up that hearty home cookin’ and the pot-bellied stove warms all. And everyone knows it. They take pride in the quaintness and don’t want to loose it, but it sure would be nice to have more local employment so “we can keep our young people close, and our grand kids closer.”
Owenton is smack in the middle of that Kentucky treasure, the Golden Triangle — equidistant to Lexington, Louisville and Cincinnati, all just over an hour away. Rolling farmlands, the meandering Kentucky River and wide, open spaces, with the County Seat of Owenton in the center of it all. Is it thriving? Not quite. But with an undercurrent of excitement of what lies just around the corner. This community is recovering from a devastating factory shutdown less than two years ago, now intent to make sure that young people have the credentials to rebound when times get tough.
Georgetown College recently offered free tuition to students in Owen County, good over the next 10 years, to Owen County residents interested in a $160,000 scholarship.Owen County School Superintendent, Robert Stafford, said all the County wants is an opportunity, a chance for students to get a degree. And this one, he acknowledges, is a “game changer.”
“Workforce development” is not something that happens to people. It’s what the community rallies around and chooses for themselves. Not settling for the same, but for something better, the better that, once again, allows young people to dream.