LKY 2017 in Hopkinsville

Posted on: October 31, 2017
Tags: Leadership Kentucky

By: Erica Radhakrishnan, Hospital Administrator, Bluegrass Veterinary Specialists + Animal Emergency

The class of Leadership Kentucky visited the Western Coalfield region of the state this month.  This session explored some of the region's extremes, history, and opportunities.  We met with the best-of-the-best 101st Army Airborne Division and 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment  - "The Night Stalkers" - at Fort Campbell and toured the stone-laden halls of the "Castle on the Cumberland" – the Kentucky State Penitentiary.   Common threads woven between these two extremes were a total dedication to their respective missions and examples of inspiring leadership.  We visited Ebonite International's headquarters, observed bowling ball manufacturing, and learned about the company's committed, 50-year history in Hopkinsville – a testament to our state's hard-working labor force and desire to grow both domestically and internationally.   These three entities employee a large number of this region's residents, but there is room for further opportunity and growth. 

Fort Campbell straddles the state border between Kentucky and Tennessee.  While it is a city unto itself, many soldiers and their families live off base.  A quick glance at license plate tags made it apparent that most elect to live across the border.  While disheartening, it is an opportunity for our state.  When asked why a soldier would move their family to Tennessee versus Kentucky, the answers were unanimous - access to a greater variety of shopping, dining, and entertainment in Clarksville.  However, beyond the short-term, every month hundreds of excellent soldiers retire from their service creating an unparalleled economic opportunity for Kentucky's businesses and industries.  An employer could not ask for a better employee than that of a veteran.  Fort Campbell hosts monthly job fairs, and it has only been under the current administration that our state has attended.  Competing states, as far away as Michigan send representatives from major corporations to recruit retirees.  We are losing a vital resource from our state – skilled workers.  Additionally, when deciding to retire in Kentucky versus Tennessee, we can turn a threat into a great opportunity.  Most veterans elect to retire across the border, not only for better shopping and dining but because there is no state income tax.  This is a logical decision and a point to consider when writing policy. 

 

When we look at the other half of the coin, we see that KSP also regularly releases long-term inmates back into society.  Warden Randy White and his staff lead the nation in research for evidence-based programming for the inmate population.  In June of 2016, the penitentiary passed their thirteenth American Correctional Association Audit with an impressive score of 99.1.  Most importantly, they added 200% more evidence-based programming.  Their mission is to not only manage a maximum security penitentiary to keep Kentucky's citizens safe but to "offer an array of programs to engage the inmates in productive activity that will better their chances of returning to the community as a responsible tax-paying citizen."  They know that many of their inmates will return to the streets and they want nothing more than their re-entry to be successful.  Their Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) program is a cognitive-behavioral treatment used in conjunction with prison-based drug treatment that addresses antisocial thinking and attitudes.  The inmates receiving this therapeutic modality show significant improvement.  Warden White and his staff are collecting data and creating a formal curriculum with the goal to share with other correctional facilities throughout the nation. 

This session was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness sectors of our state typically unavailable to most Kentucky citizens.  It was important for the class of Leadership Kentucky to hear from those on the frontlines and to have these experiences so that we as leaders can share our knowledge and better influence our local communities and state. 

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