Held within the Covenant Community Church from 7:30-9am, the event offered both a southern style breakfast and a chance to hear from several of our regional and state officials.
After everyone had finished eating, Hopkins County Judge-Executive, Donnie Carroll, started the speeches off, focusing on the idea that “unity” through both faith and public service plays a pivotal role in the community. Following Carroll, the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Dr. Joe Leonard, offered a blessing “for those in authority in our community” and explained that many of our public officials put their time and lives on the line while the rest of us go about our “normal” lives. Dr. Michael Knight, the Senior Pastor at Covenant Community Church, took to the podium next, and echoed some of the sentiments of Leonard and Carroll, saying that we should offer “praise to our elected officials and community service providers.” Next, an inspirational musical selection by the Honorable Shea Nickell of the Kentucky Court of Appeals was performed, which received a great applause from those in attendance. Following the musical piece, KY Senator Jerry Rhoads came before the audience to introduce the honorable guest speaker, KY Supreme Court Justice William Cunningham.
During the introduction, Rhoads mentioned, among other things, that Cunningham is a Lyon County native, the author of 6 books focused on regional history, and a U.S. Army veteran that has served in Vietnam, Germany, and Korea.
Once Justice Cunningham took to the stage, and after a round of applause, he added that he had over 30 years of experience serving what he noted as the “public trough.” And while Justice Cunningham offered praise to the position of elected officials, he said that simply holding the position was, and isn’t, enough.
“So, you’re a public official? So what?” asked Justice Cunningham, referring to the difference between the job title and the actual actions of the person in the position, “But what is your legacy going to be?”
To build his idea of a meaningful “legacy,” Justice Cunningham explained that a public official needed to “go the extra mile to provide the best…there is no 9 to 5 for public officials.” In addition, Justice Cunningham stated that a public official has to be courageous, regardless of what public sentiments may be on an issue, and cited several figure’s from Kentucky’s past that exemplified his idea of legacy holders, such as A.O. Stanley, Ruby Laffoon, and Kentucky’s first black Supreme Court Justice, William E. McAnulty.
“Public officials have to stand behind their decisions,” said Justice Cunningham, “because they’re the ones who are going to answer for their actions…and if we don’t leave a legacy, we don’t leave much for our children and grandchildren.”
In closing, Justice Cunningham offered a blessing to our elected officials with the hope of giving them all the courage or “gumption”—as he coined it—to make the right decisions.
After a round of applause for Justice Cunningham, Hopkins County Attorney, Todd P’Pool, came to the podium and gave a “presentation of appreciation” for all those involved with the event and also presented a framed painting by a local artist to Justice Cunningham as a gift.
Madisonville Mayor, Will Cox, offered attendants his closing remarks on the event, during which he read a passage from the Book of Kings and asked “God to continue to bless the best town on Earth.”
In finality, Reverend Weyman McGuire, a Pastor with the First United Methodist Church, thanked everyone for coming out and led the audience in a mass benediction.
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