BY MOLLY A. HAINES
Sweet Owen Editor
For years, my grandmother and I would exchange handwritten letters. When she passed away last June, I began pulling them out and rereading them — searching in earnest for some hidden nugget of wisdom or advice that perhaps I'd missed. In the days and weeks that followed her passing, I admit I felt a little shortchanged. Being the youngest of nine grandchildren had its perks, but its greatest downfall was the brevity of our time together. Outside of my parents, I can think of no more significant influence in my life than the stories and insight she shared with me, and I knew there had to be more.
I found myself jotting down things she had taught me, reminiscences that I vowed not to forget. Though heart-wrenching at times, the process served as a sort of grief therapy, and as I slogged my way down memory lane, I found the very thing I had fervently searched for was something I had done my whole life: keeping a written record of history.
My family's history, my personal history, the history of the Franklin County community my grandmother called home, and of course, the history of Owen County.
I spent an awful lot of time here during my formative years. It's the birthplace of both my father and maternal grandfather, and much of my ancestry is logged in the communities of Jonesville, New Liberty, Hesler, and Monterey. Still, I never realized the importance of this place in my life until I began reading back through articles I wrote during my time with the local newspaper and beyond.
Ironically, the magazine you now hold in your hands came about during this period of self-reflection, and I believe it shows. Sweet Owen is what I always dreamed of doing for this community but could never quite manage under the restrictions previously placed upon me. It showcases the talent, beauty, ideas, and dreams of a people I've grown to believe in, to put my faith in when everything else around me seems too cumbersome.
I could be wrong, but I think this is what my grandmother had in mind when she instilled in me a great love of home, community, and family. As long as we have a voice, it's our calling to spread the message to others so that they too might see why a rural community of 10,000 folks plays a vital role in the makeup of our Commonwealth; to see that Owen County isn't just another dot on the map. The stories inside this issue only help solidify this message, and the response to our premier issue leads me to believe many people around the region are on the same page.
We delivered 1,000 copies across Owen, Franklin, Carroll, Grant, Gallatin, Henry, Scott, and Woodford counties and had folks asking for more long after we ran out. With your continued support, our momentum will only continue to build.
As with any project, it takes a village. These past few months would not have been manageable without Owen County Tourism Director Holly Bowling and all the members of the Tourism Commission, Whitney Prather Duvall, Marlene Browning-Wainscott, Owen County Community Programs Administrator Dan Brenyo, and Owen County Judge/Executive Casey Ellis and the members of the fiscal court for creating the public information officer position. Thanks also to my fiancé, Brian Riddle, for coming to our rescue and saving this issue at the last possible second. He has a knack for that sort of thing.
And because it wouldn't be right to leave her out, thank you to my grandmother, Audrey Kemper, for keeping watch over me from above and reminding me of my purpose. You will always be my greatest inspiration.