Shining Bright For The Nine Years

Shining Bright For The Nine Years

Lisa Patrick

Ashland Beacon

original 2A0257CE 6AD7 4B81 8C3D BADA1CA4573B

        It was a night full of glittery dresses, sparkling shoes, suits and ties at the Our Night to Shine Special Needs Prom at the Boyd County Fairground on Saturday night as the I Believe Foundation celebrated nine years of organizing this event for the special people in our community.        

        This year’s theme was “Under the Sea,” and it could be seen everywhere-mermaid tails in the tablescapes, cookies decorated like sea creatures and as small little beachscapes, a “treasure chest,” and a dessert table draped with a fishing net and covered with little seashells. But, the decorations didn’t shine as bright as the students attending the prom.


For many of them, this is the only prom that they are able to attend. The school proms just aren’t suitable for most of them. For the Our Night to Shine prom, attendees with special needs are paired with neurotypical “dates” who make sure that they have a great time. They also have neurotypical peers who hang out on the dance floor to keep the party going.

The kids have the best time. Any of them that have been before, look forward to it all year. The ones who are new usually have such an awesome time that they start asking their parents when they can go again on the very next day. Conversations about what to wear next year will happen on the way home. Becky Roar commented, “This was my granddaughter’s first dance, and she had an absolute blast!”

The Our Night to Shine put on by the I Believe Foundation differs from other special needs proms because they only allow high school-aged students to attend. They start at age 14 and will go up to age 21 as most special needs students are allowed to stay in school until the age of 21. After that, the ones that age out usually come back as volunteers to help with any tasks assigned to them so they can help others have the great time that they had when they attended the prom.

The “dates” are expected to go above and beyond for the person that they are assigned to, so they are usually hand-picked. Not only do they escort their date into the prom, but, sometimes, they are also responsible for feeding them, cleaning them up before dancing, and then sticking around for the entire evening to dance with them. For Raeden Webb, dancing means crouching on the floor and bouncing to the music. Her date, Ty Plummer, spent the entire evening sitting on the floor beside her and dancing when she danced. He was also her date last year but, this year, he is attending college in Florida. He contacted her mother and flew in the morning of the prom just to escort her to her dance and flew back out on Sunday to go back to school.

The I Believe Foundation wants to thank all of the people and businesses that donated to give them the ability to create this event this year. Board member Cindy Kennard said, “When you snorkel, you get to observe the beauty under the sea. Last night, we witnessed the loveliness of some of God’s greatest creations as they sparkled and shined. Their dancing, laughing, and smiling brought our ‘Under the Sea’ them alive. We were truly blessed to be a witness to our ninth prom!”

Follow the I Believe Foundation on Facebook for upcoming events. The next planned event is for Sunday, August 11. They are planning a back-to-school family day at the KOA campground in Argillite from 1p.m. to 5 p.m. There will be more details to follow on their Facebook page, and there will also be information sent out to all of the local schools before they are released for the summer.

2024 Boyd County Farmers Market Season Set

2024 Boyd County Farmers Market Season Set

By: Jarrod E. Stephens

The Ashland Beacon

 farmer pic

If you know a farmer, then you know they are always looking for the next opportunity to put some seeds into the ground and put their green thumb to work. Spring is in full swing, and little by little seeds are being sown and plants are being planted by local farmers who hope to share their harvests at the Boyd County Farmers Market.

Unlike other markets that allow resale of produce, the Boyd County Farmers Market is a “growers only” market that requires all produce sold to have been grown by the farmer. There is no substitute for fresh vegetables, and the repeat customers throughout the season is evidence that the public is satisfied with what they get. It’s not only the produce that keeps customers coming back but the personal interaction makes the market a great place to be.


At their annual meeting, members of the Boyd County Farmers Market set times and days for the upcoming season. Much will remain the same with their main locations. This year’s market will begin Saturday, June 1 and will continue through October 26. The market located across the highway from Camp Landing is open each Wednesday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. or sellout. As you’ll soon discover if you arrive midmorning, the early birds get the produce.

The Central Park location will be the same as last year as well. This location is open each Tuesday and Thursday. The shade of the towering trees makes this location a perfect place on a hot summer day. The Tuesday sale begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. or sellout. The Thursday market is from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. or sellout.

This year, the group voted to add another market in Catlettsburg. The exact dates and time are not yet set in stone, so watch the Farmers Market Facebook page for updates. The Catlettsburg market will be on the second Wednesday of the month, and Boyd County Extension agent Lori Bowling feels it is a great opportunity for the community.

“This is a trial run for a Catlettsburg market, so we really want to encourage people to come out and support this market,” said Bowling. She added, “It will be another site for seniors and WIC vouchers to be used.”   

The early market has a limited supply of produce, but you can also purchase plants for your own garden. However, by mid-June you will see a gradual increase of available goods. Tomatoes, sweet corn, multiple varieties of green beans, potatoes, and many unique items such as local honey, wood crafted materials, eggs, mushrooms and flower arrangements will be sold.

For more information about the market, you can contact the Boyd County Extension Office: 606.739.5184. 

A Home Run for Inclusion Challenger League Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary

A Home Run for Inclusion

Challenger League Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary

By: Sasha Bush

The Ashland Beacon

CL by Sasha

In the world of sports, few things capture the imagination and inspire hope quite like the game of baseball. From the crack of the bat to the roar of the crowd, baseball is a sport that embodies the true essence of the American dream… a dream that ALL children should have the opportunity to experience. Every child should have the chance to step onto the field, feel the grass beneath their feet, and know what it feels like to swing for the fences. For the last 25 years, children have been doing exactly that thanks to the dream of one man with a grand plan. Mike Gregory has been a big part of the Ashland American Little League for many years serving as a volunteer in various ways over the years. Gregory has always had a special place in his heart for the game of baseball and the need to share that love of the game with others.


In 1999, Gregory set out on a mission to make sure that every child regardless of his/her abilities had the opportunity to play the game of baseball. It was then he started Kentucky’s first Challenger League Baseball team. The Challenger League is a special needs baseball league that offers children with special abilities the opportunity to step up to the plate and experience the joy of America's favorite pastime just like everyone else. The Challenger League is all about embracing children of all abilities, providing a safe and supportive environment where every player can thrive. This year marks the Challenger League’s 25th season. For a quarter-century, the Challenger League has been more than just a baseball league; it's been a field of dreams for children of all abilities to grow and flourish. Unlike other leagues, the Challenger League isn't about strikeouts and home runs; it isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about celebrating every step, every swing and every smile. From the moment players step onto the field, they're met with cheers, encouragement and unwavering support from family, friends and supports. It's a community, a family, and most importantly it’s a place where every child feels a sense of belonging.

Over the past 25 seasons, the Challenger League has witnessed countless moments of triumph and resilience. From players hitting their first ball to fielding their first grounder, each milestone is met with anticipation and celebration. Each game is looked forward to for weeks to come and remembered long after they leave the dugout. In a world that often focuses on differences, the Challenger League sets the bar high and is a leading example for celebrating one’s differences. Programs such as this are such a blessing to have in this community because it provides an opportunity to make lifetime memories all involved from the kids and their families to the volunteers and fans. If you have never been to a Challenger League baseball game, I highly recommend that you go check them out. The Challenger League meets every Saturday until June 6 starting at 6:00 p.m. Games are held at the National Little League fields located at 263 West Central Ave. Contact Taylor Stumbo at 606.232.7132 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like additional information or want your child to get involved in the Challenger League.

The Oak Ridge Boys 50 Years of Music and Friendship

The Oak Ridge Boys

50 Years of Music and Friendship

Ellen Keaton

Ashland Beacon

2024 Farewell Tour

The words “Giddy up, um-poppa-um-poppa, mow, mow” is possibly one of the most recognized phrases in all of country music. It is synonymous with the Grammy award winning Oak Ridge Boys and their most recognizable song, Elvira. The group will be bringing their Farewell Tour to the Paramount Arts Center Saturday, April 27. 

The group has a long and interesting history. They originally began in the early1940s as the Georgia Claudehoppers. They would sing regularly at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for workers and families who were restricted to the property during WWII. They soon took on the name of the town and became known as the Oak Ridge Quartet and in coming years…the Oak Ridge Boys. 


In the beginning, they were strictly a gospel music group and continued as such until the 1970s as they began to gradually transition to the country genre. Richard Sterban, the group’s bass singer was traveling with Elvis in 1972. Richard said, “One day I got a phone from William Lee Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys. He asked me to join the group as their new bass singer. Here I was apparently on the top of the world traveling with the King of Rock and Roll, and suddenly I have to make a decision that would change my life forever.” There were probably many who questioned that decision but Richard continued, “Now over 50 years later, I can look back at the great career we have had…we’ve been blessed really, we have…and I think I made a pretty good decision.”

The final piece of the group fell into place when Joe Bonsall was added almost a year to the day after Sterban became a part of the group. The group consisting of Duane Allen, William Lee Golden, Richard Sterban, and Joe Bonsall has now spent more than 50 years together bringing their music to fans across the country. 

In Jan.  of this year, Joe Bonsall announced his retirement from the group. He has suffered from a neuromuscular disease for years. In announcing his retirement, he stated that it had become impossible to walk and being on the road was just too difficult. Ben James, formerly of Daily and Vincent, will finish the tour with the group. According to Sterban, “Ben has brought a lot of youth and a lot of talent to our group. We are not asking him to be Joe. He is not trying to be Joe; no one will ever be able to replace Joe. We are just a little different sounding Oak Ridge Boys now.” 

Of the Farewell Tour, Sterban said the group just wants to go all over the country and to as many places as possible and say “thank you to our fans for allowing us to have such a great career.” One unique fact about the tour is there has been no ending day set at this point. “The reason for that is that we don’t know ourselves when it will end. We have not said that we are retiring just yet…we feel like the good Lord above will tell us it’s time to go home for good, but we don’t feel like He has said that just yet. We do have to be realistic, and retirement is inevitable.” 

There have been so many hit songs for the group through the years—"Elvira,” “American Made,” “Dream On,” “Y’all Come Back Saloon” to a name a few. When pushed to choose just ONE song that was his favorite out of those 50 years Richard replied, “If you nailed me down to just one, I would have to say William Lee Golden when he sings ‘Thank God for Kids.’ That is a special moment in an Oak Ridge Boys show.” 

A new project is in the works for the Oak Ridge Boys. There will be two releases coming later this year. One will be a rerelease of a previous project that will be a 50th Anniversary Celebration album. Approximately a month ago, the group just completed a brand-new project that included Ben James singing the tenor part. It is slated for a fall release.

Sterban summed up his final thoughts for the area fans: “Thank you, thank you, thank you!  We have been so fortunate and blessed over the last 50 years, and it would not have been possible without the help and support of our fans.”

The Farewell tour may not have an ending date yet, but one day there will be one final concert, one last “Giddy up, um-poppa-um-poppa, mow, mow,” and one final bow for the legendary Oak Ridge Boys. Thank you for the songs, the laughter and the legacy you will be leaving behind. 

The Oak Ridge Boys tickets can be purchased at the Doors for the concert April 27 open at 7 p.m. and concert at 8 p.m.

Setting the Stage for Success: Paramount Arts Center Understands Importance the Performing Arts are for Youth Development

Setting the Stage for Success

Paramount Arts Center Understands Importance the Performing Arts are for Youth Development

By: Sasha Bush

The Ashland Beacon

 Paramount Players copy

Theatre, with its ability to captivate, inspire and provoke thought, plays a vital role in helping to shape our youth into thriving adults. Beyond mere entertainment, engagement with the performing arts offers a great deal of benefits that contribute to the holistic growth and development of all those who experience it.

By participating in theatrical productions or attending performances, young people are being exposed to diverse narratives and perspectives, fostering empathy, understanding, and appreciation for the world around them. Through the exploration of different characters and scenarios, our children can develop their capacity for empathy, learn to see the world through the eyes of others and recognize the shared humanity that binds us all together. Oscar Wilde said it best, “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”


Being involved in theatre provides the perfect opportunity for kids to express themselves and explore their love of acting, singing, dancing and other performing arts. Introducing your kids to theatre can also be an important step in your child’s overall development, as well as an enriching way for children to become part of an amazing community.

From acting and directing to set design and costume creation, every aspect of theatre production offers opportunities for personal growth and skill development. Whether onstage or behind the scenes, participation in theatrical productions encourages creativity, problem-solving and collaboration, as individuals work together to bring a shared vision to life.

Stepping onto a stage in front of an audience requires courage and vulnerability, as performers expose themselves to the possible scrutiny of others and risk failure. Through this process, our children are able to learn resilience, perseverance, and the importance of taking pride in their accomplishments, no matter how small, all aid them in all aspects of life both onstage and off the stage.

No one understands just how big of an impact that the performing arts can have on our children better than the Paramount Arts Center’s (PAC) Paramount Players. Led by Artistic Director Rick Payne and Education Director Matt Hammond, the Paramount Players help to create a safe and artistic environment for local artists to thrive. From standing center stage to building sets, PAC’s Paramount Players help create both a phenomenal, professional quality show and a creative working environment for people of all ages.

PAC is no stranger to producing high caliber shows with high caliber talent. Join the Paramount Players April 19 and 20 at the iconic Paramount Arts Center for their highly anticipated performance of The Little Mermaid. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at or at the box office during regular business hours. Artistic Director Rick Payne shared, “This show is going to be AMAZING!”