Category: Education

How to Get Involved in the Midterm Elections

How to Get Involved in the Midterm Elections

By Taylor Forns, M.D.

As inconceivable as it may seem right now, the dog days of summer will soon be drawing to a close as we inch nearer to a great autumn tradition.

No, I’m not talking about football. But if you want to learn more about the upcoming season for your Cards or Cats, I recommend you check out the great local media coverage we are privy to here in the Commonwealth.

The fall ritual I’m referring to is the fast-approaching election season.

Young people have long been unreliable voters. In 2016, Kentucky voters 34 and younger had a 47.9% turnout rate, well below the 59.1% average of all voters. In the 2014 midterm the numbers are much worse, as only 26.1% came out to the polls compared to the 45.9% total. Voting is the single most important constitutional right we have as American citizens…if we don’t like our government, we have the power to vote to change it, so use that power!

This past presidential election cycle has certainly spurred me to take a more active role in the election process outside of simply voting. If you, too, are thinking about becoming more involved in the upcoming midterm elections, I’m here to give you a few ideas of different ways to get involved.

My first piece of advice would be to register! It’s hard to affect change within a democratic system if you mute your own voice by not being a registered voter. It’s an easy and painless process here in Kentucky: all you have to do is visit the Secretary of State’s website and fill out the simple form the State Board of Elections offers.

Once you’ve registered to vote, you can really start to rev your political engine. Perhaps the most organic way to influence others during an election is to volunteer for a campaign. Be it a national election, a state primary, or even a mayoral race, any campaign adviser will say the most important thing for a campaign, other than many willing donors, is a plethora of volunteers.

There are many roles for volunteers on the campaign trail that fit the busy schedules of nearly everybody, which means you can get involved even if you work long hours. Just reach out to a candidate’s team, and they will find a way to utilize your skills.

But what if you don’t know for whom to vote? How can you even know what a candidate truly believes? This is where your own research comes into play. My biggest belief is that reading local news tells me a lot about candidates and their views. For example, if you live in Mercer County, it makes sense to read a publication local to Mercer County that explains how a candidate’s plan will affect those that live in the area instead of how it might affect people living in Lexington or Louisville.

Another great avenue to learn more about candidates is to attend campaign events. Many times, candidates will field questions, giving you a perfect opportunity to ask about the issues that matter most to you. When you are able to have a frank and honest conversation with a candidate in settings like these, you can develop an informed opinion about all the candidates.

Now that you have a few more tools to be engaged during this year’s election cycle, I challenge you to put them to use. Register if you have not already registered. Do your due diligence when researching and learning about candidates. Volunteer for a campaign, go door-to-door, make phone calls. If you want to see a change in your world, be the start of that change and do something about it.

But most importantly, vote. Maybe you’ll get a cool “I Just Voted” sticker to post on your Instagram.

Advertisements
Conservation & Preservation: State Nature Preserves

Conservation & Preservation: State Nature Preserves

Hello all!

How is everyone? Long time no see!  I want to first apologize for my absence from blog writing.  For the past couple of months, writing and finishing a dissertation has consumed my life.  But, I am back to talk to you about environmental issues and awareness.  The first blog I wrote for Friends of Limestone was on conservation and preservation.  More specifically, I discussed some ways the state of Kentucky practices conservation and preservation.  Now that I am back writing blogs for you, I want to build off that blog and discuss more practices of conservation and preservation in the state of Kentucky.  We will begin with State Nature Preserves!

State Nature Preserves are/is:

  • A geographic area preserved by the state of Kentucky.
  • Not unique to Kentucky but exist all across the U.S!
  • Preserved for natural significance, scientific/educational purposes, and/or to protect rare species/natural environment.
  • Open to the public to visit and explore
    • However, some are not open to the public

Kentucky has a total of 58 State Nature Preserves.  33 of which are open to the public.  Here’s a version of the map seen above showing the location of all State Nature Preserves in the state of Kentucky.  So, go exploring! For the purposes of this blog, I want to showcase three in Jefferson County and around the city of Louisville.  I believe sometimes we can feel detached from nature while living within urban locales.  So, I have chosen State Nature Preserves in Louisville and Jefferson County to show how we are never detached from the natural environment; it is all around us!

State Nature Preserve #1 Six Mile Island

  • Became a State Nature Preserve in 1979
  • Located in the Ohio River
  • It is an 81-acre island
  • Kentucky protected Six Mile Island, so researchers and individuals could study the ecology of river islands.
  • It is open to the public and accessible by boat
  • People use it to study and bird watch

State Nature Preserve #2 Beargrass Creek

  • Became a State Nature Preserve in 1982
  • Located close to Jo Creason Park and Louisville Zoological gardens
  • It is 41 acres
  • Kentucky protected Beargrass Creek for recreation and nature education.
  • It is open to the public and very accessible
  • People us it to study, hike, and bird watch.

State Nature Preserve #3 Blackacre

  • Became a State Nature Preserve in 1979
  • Located near Jefferstown
  • It is 175 acres
  • Kentucky protected Blackacre for environmental education
  • It is open to the public but limited
    • Weekdays 3 p.m. to dusk
    • Weekends dawn to dusk
    • So plan accordingly!

State Natural Preserves serve as just another conservation and preservation initiative the state of Kentucky is doing to protect our natural environment.  Has anyone explored the State Nature Preserves in their local area? What about others throughout the state of Kentucky? What about across the country? Let me know! What did you do? What was your experience like? I am curious because I, myself, have never been to a State Natural Preserve.  Maybe this weekend?

Until next time!

Cheers,

Dr. Adam Sizemore

Not Just Juleps: Derby Party Drinks You Need to Try

Not Just Juleps: Derby Party Drinks You Need to Try

It’s not all Juleps & Lillies ..

The best week of the year is finally here! Whether you live directly in the heart of the Derby city or are celebrating from afar, you are probably gathering your mint, sugar, and bourbon in preparation of the first Saturday of May.   Not everyone loves or appreciates a good Mint Julep so I’m going to give you three recipes that are also great for Kentucky Derby parties!

Cucumber Bourbon Cocktail:

I am a sucker for anything cucumber! Something about it is so refreshing and just screams summer!

  • A shot of a Rye whiskey (this is to even out the sweetness of the honey syrup)

  • A spoonful of honey syrup (1 cup honey, 1 cup water)

  • 3 slices of cucumber

  • Lemon wedge

  • 2 Mint leaves

  • Splash of club soda

In a mixing glass, muddle the cucumber, mint, lemon wedge, and spoonful of honey syrup.  Add in the shot of bourbon, stir. Strain this into a glass full of ice. Top with club soda.  Add a cucumber slice and mint leaf for garnish! (This is also something you could easily make a large batch of to serve in a pitcher – plus it looks pretty!)

Brown Derby Cocktail:

Prior to the Mint Julep craze there was another famous drink, the Brown Derby.  I personally had never heard of this drink until last year and highly recommend it!

  • 2 oz of Bourbon (any type would do – i do not recommend a super high rye though with the grapefruit!)

  • Half a Grapefruit squeezed

  • ½ oz Honey

  • Lemon and/or Mint for garnish

This super easy drink consists of 2 steps. First, shake the bourbon, grapefruit, honey, and ice for about 20 seconds or until frosty.  Strain and pour over a chilled glass.

Blush Lily:

This is retake on the Oak’s Lily!  I wish I could say I enjoyed a good Lily during the Derby season but vodka and I aren’t friends.  So here is a mix up for all of you non-bourbon lovers.

  • Cranberry juice

  • 1 shot Vodka

  • Lime juice

  • Splash of Triple Sec

Fill a shaker with ice, half cup of cranberry juice, shot of vodka, a good squeeze of lime juice, and a splash of Triple Sec. Shake well for 20-30 seconds.  Strain into a tall glass with fresh ice!

 

Hope you enjoy these & please drink responsibly! Happy Thurby, Oaks and most of all Derby!

 

From Snob to Stave (and Thief)

From Snob to Stave (and Thief)

Well guys, I am officially a bourbon snob! Not really, but that’s everyone probably thinks. Last month with some friends I took the first step in getting my Stave and Thief Certification!  What does this mean? Do I get anything cool? Can anyone do it? I am going to answer all of these questions and tell you about my experience, what it means to me, and what I plan to do from here.

The Stave and Thief Society course was originally set up for hospitality businesses in 2014 to help educate their staff, as bourbon tourism was becoming all the rage.  This way the staff had more than basic knowledge of bourbon and could help guide their customers on what brands, mash bills, etc. would be best for their palette. Now it is offered as a learning course for anyone that is interested. I was able to take the basic certification with the Whisky Chicks which included a 3 hour class, learning the history of bourbon, the difference between all whiskies, how to read a label, the Kentucky heritage, and what goes into building a flight.  I highly suggest taking a class instead of doing the learn from home – it really helped me listen and learn to other bourbon lovers backgrounds, what they like, and how they got into it. The most fun thing about bourbon is who you share it with! In my class, there were all levels, one couple just started drinking bourbon within the past few months, some others were brought up by their dads being into bourbon and knowing the history like the back of their hand, and others (like me) knew a good amount but still could learn a lot more!

After all the learning, then it was time to drink! We were able to try to classics such as Basil Hayden & Larceny and then I was able to try some bourbon from New York and Indiana, which is very different and interesting to try. (Kentucky is still my favorite though!)  From there we learned to make our flights, what goes into the process, and how to line them up. I can’t tell you all the secrets but it is very interesting once you start looking at different restaurant flight offers on their thought process behind it.

Test time! Once you finish the class you have to take an online test of multiple choice questions and create your own flight. Now the waiting game, it took about a week for me to get my test results back and say that I passed!! My next step is to take the executive course, which is an all day training including learning the different smells, taste, and more in depth in the bourbon making process. If you are interested in bourbon and taking your hobby / passion to the next level, I highly recommend this course. Stay tuned for my next step in bourbon love!

FOL visits Four Roses

FOL visits Four Roses

New Year – New Bourbon Tour

Hey there bourbon lovers!! I hope everyone celebrated Valentine’s Day with a little pour of their favorite drink and some roses, four roses perhaps!  Speaking of Four Roses, the Friends of Limestone squad kicked off the new year with a tour down in Lawrenceburg, KY learning all about the 10 different recipes that make up Four Roses. Currently their distillery is being remodeled and hopes to open up later this spring, it was still a good time but I will definitely be making the trip back once it is back in production!

Since the distillery is shut down, we start off the tour with a video on where Four Roses started and what makes it unique compared to all the other bourbons. Four Roses has been around for a long time, 1860 in fact! Paul Jones  who was the original owner bought the current property in 1910 and story has it that he named this wonderful bourbon after a girl who showed up to a dance wearing a corsage with four red roses. Four Roses was also one of six distilleries that were allowed to sell during the prohibition for medical reasons, you can still see some of the medical bottles that were used. Pretty neat!  Four Roses has been through a lot of rise & fall throughout the past century and currently it is rising back to the top!

That’s enough history for now, let’s talk about what goes into the bottle!  Like mentioned earlier there are 10 unique recipes put together by hand from their Master Distiller, Brent Elliott. The yellow label includes all 10 recipes, aged for 6.5 years and finished at 80 proof.  The small batch is pulled from 20 barrels and finished at 90 proof. Then the single barrel has only 1 recipe and 1 barrel finished at 100 proof after aging for 7.5 years.  All barrels are checked at 5.5 years then marked on if they will be a yellow label or move on to a small batch or single barrel.   Here is the breakdown of the 10 recipes .. it starts out with two different mash bills, mash bill E is made up of 75% corn, 20% rye, and 5% malted barley. Mash bill B is 60% corn, 35% rye, and 5% malted barley.  From there, they pick from 5 different yeast strains V for a light fruity flavor, K for a spice, O for a rich fruit, Q for a floral, and F for herbal notes. Below is a list of the 10 different recipes for you to use when you are buying your next Four Roses bottle to know what you are getting out of that bottle. O stands for that it was made in Lawrenceburg, E or B for the mash bill, S for straight whisky, and V/K/O/Q/F for your yeast strain.

So if you have ever bought a bottle or drink of Four Roses and didn’t know if it was for you, try it out again! Maybe you just weren’t a fan of that yeast. Or you can be a little crazy like me and collect all 10 recipes – did someone say bourbon tasting?!

Environmental Justice: The Story of Martin County, Kentucky

Environmental Justice: The Story of Martin County, Kentucky

Hey, everyone!

How has everyone’s 2018 been so far? Our environment continues to be a pressing importance in my life and hopefully you are making it one in yours!

That being said, let’s keep talking about Environmental Justice in Appalachia!

Last month, I mentioned that this blog would be dedicated to a specific case example. One that is personal to me and has been making some news recently, is Martin County, Kentucky.

The story of Martin County is close to me because I have spent the past year studying the environmental injustices of this county for my dissertation research. What have I been doing and what’s going on with Martin County? First let’s get a baseline of the area.

Martin County is:

  • A Central Appalachian county of Kentucky that borders West Virginia.
  • Contains around 12,000 individuals.
  • Predominantly white (94 percent of the population).
  • The 115th poorest county in Kentucky.
    • The medium household income is around $25,000
    • 35 percent fall below the poverty level.
  • Where the War on Poverty was born.
  • A coal mining community.

Since coal mining is predominant in Martin County, their risk to environmental stressors is increased. Unfortunately this risk increased too far and in the fall of 2000 a disaster struck the county. One of the coal slurry impoundments broke, releasing over 300 million gallons of slurry in two hollows of Martin County: Coldwater and Wolf Creek.

What is “coal slurry?” It is the stuff that comes off coal after it’s washed. “Washed”? Why is coal being washed? Is it dirty? Well…yes! Before it is burned for energy purposes, it must be cleaned to rid various impurities, like soil and rock. The byproduct that comes off during this process is called “slurry” and it is housed in large dams call impoundments, like the one over Martin County.

Appalachian writer, Harry Caudill once said impoundments are “like a pool of gravy in a mound of mashed potato”. I really love that analogy. I feel like it gives a vivid picture of what these things are. It also gives you a good idea of what it looked like seeping into the community. The black gravy mixture contaminated local creeks, water sources, soil and killed aquatic life. For such a small community, tucked in the Appalachian Mountains, you might not think this was a big deal, but it was actually the worst environmental disaster in the southeast, exceeding the amount released from the Exxon Valdeez Oil Spill!

It was my goal to study the recovery of this disaster for my dissertation, so I started interviewing the people impacted. I soon learned that there is another environmental issue plaguing the county.  In a nutshell, their infrastructure is poor.

I found that:

  • Water lines were breaking, allowing contaminants to enter into the water source.
  • There is an average of 60 percent water loss across the county.
  • Their water smells, is discolored, and is reported to burn their skin.
  • No one drinks the water! Their source comes from bottled water.
  • People are organizing and trying to get a new water source for their community.
  • People are concerned over their health and community future.

You will probably hear more about Martin County and their struggles in the coming weeks and months as it is gaining more media attention day after day! I am not going into the details of why individuals believe their water system is inadequate; you will have to read my dissertation for that!

Regardless of the reason, this county experiences environmental stressors. It is truly unjust. The story of Martin County is a reminder that environmental stressors are not equally shared across populations!

Until next time,

Adam

Explaining Kentucky’s Three Tier Alcohol System

Explaining Kentucky’s Three Tier Alcohol System

Happy New Year Friends!

This month I am letting you in on a not-so-known secret.

On December 5th, 1933, Kentucky’s liquor laws were written to make it pretty hard to buy any alcohol. The end of Prohibition meant that every state had to develop their own rules on selling liquor, and Kentucky’s are pretty unique.

Let me break it down to each level and how that affects you & I buying bourbon!

The Three Tier System

Tier 1 Suppliers / Producers

This tier includes anyone who makes the alcohol. They include Beam Inc, Brown-Forman, and any other liquor company you’re familiar with.

Tier 2 – Distributors / Wholesalers

This is where the laws written at end of prohibition take over. Legislators ruled that distributors must receive alcohol from the supplier and deliver it to your local liquor store, effectively making them a middle man. In most states, the distributor is a privately owned company separate from the producer or supplier, (one of the biggest distributors in Kentucky is Southern Wine & Spirits) but in some states the actual state itself buys the alcohol.

Tier 3 – Retailers

This includes anywhere you can buy liquor, from your corner store to the big name liquor stores.

Why does this matter?

This system prevents producers from selling directly to retailers which means a producer and/or the retailer can not play favorites, preventing the large producers from buying up liquor stores or bars to only sell their brands. The distributor must act like a independent unbiased middle man. The purpose of this system was to promote fair market practices, for the most part it has worked!

Now what if you try to find your favorite bourbon in another state but that local store doesn’t have it?  This is because of the biggest downside of the system, producers large or small have to make deals with a distributor in each state! If you are not one of those large producers previously mentioned it is very hard to get your brand to all 50 states. That makes it difficult to find your favorite small brand bottle in a faraway place.

How does this affect the way we buy bourbon? At each of these levels the bourbon is taxed. Before the bottle even hits the shelves, it has been taxed for every year in the barrel by the local and state government! After that the distributors are taxed by the state, then as the final sales tax that we pay with each drink at a bar or bottle from Kroger. Last year that was $825 million in taxes per the Kentucky Distillers Association. All in all nearly 60 percent of every bottle of liquor in Kentucky goes to taxes or fees, with seven different taxes on Bourbon – including a tax on barrels each and one for every year it ages.


So next time you go in to buy your bourbon of choice, that bottle went through a lot more than just the normal aging process! If you want to learn more about the three tier system or liquor laws in Kentucky, check out this site!  Cheers!