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Awards & Recognition​


Horse Park mounted police demonstrate prowess

The Kentucky Horse Park Mounted Police presented a memorable equine demonstration at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, held at the Kentucky Horse Park at the end of April. Here, the officers are practicing defensive tactics, teaching the horse not to be afraid of a crowd of unruly people pushing against him. Sgt. Dan Haun, riding Samson, a beautiful Percheron/Thoroughbred mounted police horse, with Officer David Johnson.



Chasidy Hawkins takes the reins

Labor Cabinet employee serves as example for personal motivation

In the winter of 2007, Chasidy Hawkins hit a patch of ice while driving on Versailles Road. It was sudden and horrifying, and with no control she found herself spinning into oncoming traffic. In a car crash, a strange thing often happens: Time slows down. What happens in seconds seems like minutes. Fear makes the heart race, and the brain’s defense mechanisms kick into gear.

Even as a little girl, Chasidy knew the feeling of an adrenaline rush. She was 12 years old and sitting on a big, powerful Quarter Horse in the starting gate before a barrel race. She held the reins with one hand and tugged on her hat with the other. Then she was set. The butterflies were racing inside her, and then it was time. Her horse was named Sugar. She had bought her for $1,000 with her own money she had saved up taking care of calves and selling them each year. For a 12-year-old, it was a fortune. Think of all the toys or candy that could buy! But Chasidy wanted a horse. She had grown up around horses, with her mom, dad, grandparents, aunts and cousins all riding. In fact, she had been on a horse before she was born. Her mother didn’t let pregnancy stop her from riding. Then the race started. It was her and Sugar against time. With hundreds of people watching, they bolted across a dirt ring with barrels scattered around, and they flowed in a clover-leaf pattern, careful not to hit the barrels or knock them over. Barrel racing was in her blood. 

Now she’s married with children, and her family owns and takes care of four horses. She’s a member of the International Barrel Racing Association and competes in races just about every weekend.

“When I get into that gate, I still get butterflies,” she says. Her current horse is Roxy, who stands 15 hands high, and is a sorrel with white stripe on her nose and a white sock over her front right hoof, which stands out beautifully against her dark copper chestnut coat.

Hawkins’ favorite thing to do is go camping and riding. “It’s my therapy,” she says. “Just being in the barn is calming and soothing for the soul.”

She gets up every morning before the sunrise, and she heads to the barn to feed and water her horses. Then she gets her two boys off to school and comes to work at the Labor Cabinet, where she has worked since 2006 and is an administrative specialist. She takes care of the education and training health staff, making sure they have their assignments, training records and proper supplies so they can help companies and workers across Kentucky stay safe and healthy on the job.

When her vehicle slid into oncoming traffic on Versailles Road, another car hit hers and split the frame in two. The jarring impact knocked her hips out of place. Pain rushed in and everything stopped.

Fast forward two months, and Chasidy had a crucial question for her doctor. “Can I start riding again?”

The doctor wasn’t too sure. Chasidy was. Her grandmother is 77 and still rides. “I’m not going to stop riding,” she told the doctor. She rides as much as she can. The pain is still there, eight years later, but she doesn’t let it stop her from competing in barrel races.

For five years, Chasidy has served as an officer of the Mt. Eden Saddle Club, where she organizes monthly horse shows. Hundreds of people come to the shows and bring their horses to compete.

Horses always had a healing power for Chasidy. They brought her joy, excitement and mental rehabilitation. But she never realized how much they could do for a little 9-year-old boy named Blake Hundley. Blake’s parents are friends of Chasidy’s. Blake was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was six.

“He is always smiling. He has been an inspiration,” she says. “He knows he has cancer, but they haven’t explained to him it is terminal… there is no cure.”

Blake’s family takes him to frequent treatments. He is on chemotherapy and uses a feeding tube because he has no appetite. He needs constant medication. The medical bills piled up, and time away from work cost his father his job. All the time, the cancer keeps growing in his brain and has travelled into his spine.

Chasidy organized two special horse shows. She spread the word throughout the horse-loving community that concessions, entry fees and donations would go to help Blake’s family. One show raised $8,000, and another made $12,000. Blake’s mom couldn’t believe it. Then the chemotherapy started working, and the cancer disappeared from his spine. It’s still the same in his brain, but his attitude remains positive.

He wanted a tree house to play in outside, and early this year Chasidy started a Facebook page called A Treehouse Come True. Within 24 hours the page had 800 likes. People pitched in with donations of money, time and labor. Now, the treehouse is almost finished. Other dreams are coming true for Blake. He got to meet Willie Cauley-Stein of the University of Kentucky Wildcats. He was able to take a tour of the UK locker room. Then, thanks to a state lawmaker and a crowd-funding website, Blake and his parents were able to go to the Final Four to see WCS and the Cats in action. He rode in a limousine from his hotel to the stadium.

“I call him my superstar,” says Chasidy.

Blake died peacefully May 15.

No matter the obstacle, whether it is a car crash, or a lack of money for the family of a little boy with cancer, Chasidy is ready to take the reins.


Workers’ memorial day

Transportation Cabinet honors fallen employees KYTC workers mem.jpg

In observance of National Workers’ Memorial Day, April 28, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) honored employees who lost their lives while on the job.

Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock and Assistant State Highway Engineer Bob Lewis joined KYTC Employee Safety and Health Branch Manager Rob Hecker and KYTC graphic designer Shannon Martin to hang a memorial print in the KYTC Central Office lobby in Frankfort. Martin designed the print. Lewis’ father, Herbert S. Lewis, a KYTC construction engineer, was struck by a vehicle and killed in a highway work zone on Aug. 29, 1968.

“The hanging of this print serves two purposes,” Hancock said. “It honors those we lost, and serves as a reminder to our current employees to be safe and alert while working to improve our roads.”

The print lists 91 names, with dates ranging from 1963 to 2011.

“On behalf of those who lost a loved one, we appreciate the cabinet recognizing their sacrifice,” Lewis said. “I encourage everyone driving through a work zone to slow down and pay attention to our workers. We don’t want to add more names to this list.”

Framed memorial prints also were made for each of the 12 KYTC district offices.

Workers’ Memorial Day was established by the U.S. Department of Labor. It honors workers who have died on the job, acknowledges the grievous suffering experienced by families and communities, and recommits the state and federal governments to the fight for safe and healthful workplaces. Learn more at https://www.osha.gov/as/opa/worker_memorial_2015.html.


Four Kentucky teachers named 2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators

Four Kentucky teachers were among  100 educators selected nationwide to participate in the 2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators program. The program, which is in its third year, recognizes tech-savvy K-12 educators who serve as leaders in the use of educational technology and incorporating digital media into their classrooms.

Educators were selected based on submission of videos and written essays that addressed how they are creatively using digital technology and tools in the classroom to drive student achievement.

Kentucky’s 2015 PBS Learning Media Digital Innovators are:
Susan Cintra, Madison Central High School, Berea (Lead PBS Digital Innovator)
James Allen, Oldham County High School, Goshen (Local PBS Digital Innovator)
Jennifer Montgomery, Eminence Independent Schools, Eminence (Local PBS Digital Innovator)
Kate Wintuska, Jody Richards Elementary School, Bowling Green (Local PBS Digital Innovator)

The top 30 applicants among the 100 educators selected to the program have the added honor of being named “Lead” innovators. Lead innovators receive an all-expense paid trip to Philadelphia to participate in the 2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital summit. All PBS Digital Innovators receive year-long professional development opportunities, including virtual training and professional development courses on digital media best practices, which they can share with their schools and incorporate into curricula.

Madison Central High School sophomore English teacher Susan Cintra, who was named to the select group of 30 innovators, teaches in a paperless environment, using iPads to allow her students to explore ideas through their own digital creations.
Jennifer Montgomery, an English and Spanish teacher with Eminence Independent Schools, said she encourages her students to feel empowered to take the lead in introducing new technology to her classroom. “I encourage my students to teach the class – and me – about new technology tools they’ve discovered and use on their own, so that we can always use the best digital tool that fits our task,” Montgomery said.

The full list of 2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators is available at the PBS website.

KET is Kentucky’s largest classroom, serving more than one million people each week via television, online and mobile. Learn more about Kentucky’s preeminent public media organization on Twitter @KET and facebook.com/KET and at KET.org.


Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control recognized

The Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control was honored by the Bluegrass Prevention Center at the May 8 meeting of the Bluegrass Law Enforcement Regional Task Force for their dedication to keeping youth safe by enforcing underage drinking laws.

M.E. Kobes, Director of Bluegrass Prevention Center, presented the KY ABC with an Outstanding Service Award that recognizes the entire department for their commitment to the task force’s mission to reduce underage drinking. Three Outstanding Service Awards were also presented to individuals from the KY ABC; including, Assistant Director of Enforcement Josh Crain, Investigator Steve Newell, and Education Branch Manager Tiffany Quarles from the KY ABC in appreciation of their exceptional leadership and support of the Bluegrass Law Enforcement Regional Task Force.