Leadership Kentucky 2021 in Somerset

Posted on: September 17, 2021
Tags: Session Review, Leadership Kentucky
LKY 2021 Somerset Houseboat

Written by: John Brothers, Division VP, Mission Integration, CHI Saint Joseph Health, Leadership Kentucky Class of 2021


The skies were dark with the impending threat of rain as the Leadership Kentucky Class of 2021 boarded the bus in Somerset to begin their agritourism visits to Bear Wallow Farm and Haney’s Appledale Farm in the quaint community of Nancy, Kentucky.  While on the bus, classmates took the time to visit and catch up on all that had occurred since we last met.  

Upon arriving at Bear Wallow Farm, we were greeted by owner Wesley Logson as we walked through the former barn with pumpkins and gifts for purchase for those who visit during normal working hours.  He explained that he and his wife purchased the farm and invested many man hours to create an experience for visitors that included animals and farm produce.  People of all ages learn about the production of agricultural products while having fun, including the popular  pumpkin launcher.  After Wesley spoke of the work that had been done to create an agritourism  destination for education and fun, many of the class members braved the intermittent rain and explored the farm and its animal residents.

After boarding the bus and taking a short ride to Appledale Farm, we were welcomed with a downpour as we exited the bus to sit under the canopy and hear from one of the Haney family members who is in the process of inheriting the management of the farm.  He discussed the types of apples that were produced on the farm and the year long process from grafting trees to harvesting apples.  The Haney family wanted to create a destination for visitors to learn about the farm while experiencing some of the products that were produced.  We were then treated to a warm Haney’s famous fried apple pie, which seemed to make the rain disappear as we savored the delicious treat provided by Teresa Hail, class of 2008 and past chair of the Leadership Kentucky board.  After we visited the store and made our purchases, we boarded the bus back to Somerset.

We ended our first day at the Farmer’s Market in downtown Somerset and listened to a panel of leaders moderated by Michael Keck (class of 2018) with participants Mayor Alan Keck (class of 2017), County Judge Steve Kelley and Chris Girdler, President and CEO of the Somerset Pulaski Economic Development Authority.  The jovial panel discussed the activities undertaken to enhance tourism in the area and secure Somerset as a major destination point in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  After the panel discussion, we were treated to a reception which included great food, drinks, and conversation.

Many classmates remained downtown and visited Charred Oak restaurant next door for a drink or two... but who was counting?

 Day two began with Chick-fil-A biscuits at The Center for Rural Development situated next door to the hotel where we were welcomed by the facility’s  President and CEO, Lonnie Lawson (class of 2006).  This morning, we heard from a panel of two regarding regional tourism and the Chamber of Commerce.  Our classmate and Somerset resident, Amy Doane moderated the panel which included Michelle Allen, Somerset-Pulaski County CVB Executive Director (class of 2020) and Bobby Clue, Somerset Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director.  They informed us of the great collaborative work taking place to increase tourism in the area.

We then boarded our bus to travel to Trifecta Houseboats, where we learned that this area is known as the “Houseboat Capital of the World”.  As we began our tour with CEO Jason Stockton, we were hopeful the skies would clear for our afternoon Lake Cumberland houseboat cruise.  Jason began with a tour with how they build the base and rudimentary walls of the houseboat before looking in on the cabinet makers.  We learned how you determine if the boat is airtight and wont sink by filling up the base with water and observing for any leaks.  Jason also informed us that their boats are delivered domestically and globally including China and Dubai.  We were able to walk on a couple of the houseboats in production to see the finishing touches that make it comparable to a nice home.

From Trifecta, and finally under beautiful blue skies, we boarded the bus for lunch at Mellow Mushroom where we were treated to excellent salads and sandwiches.  After lunch, we left for our Lake Cumberland houseboat cruise departing from Lee’s Ford Marina. What a treat we experienced with the beautiful serenity of the lake and wonderful food and drink.  Some of our classmates chose to “captain” the boat as others enjoyed conversing and enjoying the scenery.  After we returned to dock, we began our laborious trek up the hill to the marina restaurant where we caught our breath while sitting on the deck overlooking the marina.  Our classmates, Sharon, James, Alyssa, Debbie and Zach educated and entertained us with a discussion around community engagement as we sipped water and salivated for something more satisfying from the temptatious bar immediately behind our panelists.  After an informative session, we were treated to heavy hors d'oeuvres and reflections on our experiences during the session thus far.  We then headed back to the hotel and said goodbye to our comedic bus driver, while we were ever so disappointed that no one pressed the red button in the bathroom!

Our third day began with biscuits at the Somerset Energy Center where we heard from our classmates regarding law enforcement perceptions.  Kentucky Police Chief of the year for 2020, William Hunt and United States Attorneys Rob Duncan and Russell Coleman (we must have the most impressive classmates than any previous LKY class!) led this discussion on challenges and opportunities facing law enforcement in our current environment.  After this discussion, the chief impressed us with his “t.i.” skills as he set up short videos for us to watch of the Horse Soldiers.  Chief William arranged for us to participate in a couple police training activities including pulling someone over for a traffic violation and addressing virtual situations in which police officers utilize the skills of de-escalation. 

Our last session began at the airport, slightly delayed because half the class was on one side of the airport while the other half was in the correct location.  Sometimes Waze just isn’t reliable!  We heard from Kelli Baker, Airport Manager and David Morris, long time airport board member and current president.  They discussed the history of the airport and their desire to bring commercial service back in the near future to enhance tourism in the area.  We also heard about the aviation maintenance technology program offered by Somerset Community College before ending our day with thank you letters, goodbyes and well wishes until our next session.

Norton Healthcare
Pikeville Medical Center
Kentucky Power
US Bank
RunSwitch PR
Stites & Harbison, PLLC
Republic Bank
Whitaker Bank
Putting Kentuckians First and Reentry with the Kentucky Office Of Adult Education and the Education and Labor Cabinet
CHI St Joseph Healthcare
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
University of Louisville
Delta Dental
Kentucky Association of Health Plans
Whitaker Bank Foundation
St. Elizabeth Healthcare
Tennessee Valley Authority
Appalachian Regional Healthcare