Stephens Plans to Soar Into the Next Chapter

Stephens Plans to Soar Into the Next Chapter

Gwen Akers

Ashland Beacon

0526 Brennan 002

Bred in the Bluegrass and rooted in his heritage, Brennan Stephens is ready to soar to new heights after graduating high school.

A Rose Hill native and graduate, Stephens has spent his high school career focusing on bettering himself and finding his limits. From becoming Beta club president, to an honored athlete in both archery and baseball, Stephens has always pushed himself to be a person who has a very diverse skill set.


“I don’t want to be focused on one thing, I want to be a jack of all trades, I can do pretty much anything kind of person,” said Stephens.

Stephens joined the archery team in fifth grade, and was one of the original members of the Rose Hill team. He has also been on the varsity baseball team for six years.

“I really love competing and trying to be the best I can be. I guess that's one thing I really like about archery–archery is an individual sport. It's me competing against myself. I also like the person to person competition, like in baseball, and I guess I just enjoy trying to get a little bit better–trying to find limits,” remarked Stephens.

Stephens is also heavily involved in music, raised on the bluegrass and country music of his home; Stephens has been playing the mandolin for over a year now.

Inspired by his family and teachers, Stephens stated that he owes his motivation to his hardworking family and those around him. 

Stephens plans to join the United States Air Force and attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He hopes to possibly pursue a major in mechanical engineering and attend pilot school after his graduation.

“I want to work for something bigger than myself, be involved and be a part of something that serves the greater good. I love this nation and I don’t want my freedoms just to be given to me.  I want to feel like I have played a part in helping to keep those,” commented Stephens.

Danna Powers, a high school English teacher at Rose Hill, has known Stephens since he came to Rose Hill in the first grade. She could not be prouder of his accomplishments and his ambition.

“Ever since he was an elementary student, he has wanted to be in one of the military academies,” stated Powers. “He’s driven. He wanted to do this, and he did it.”

Stephens is set to graduate as part of Rose Hill’s class of 2023, both highly praised and decorated by his school and his community.

18 and Counting: Raceland High School Boys Track Team Adds to Region Title Count

18 and Counting: Raceland High School Boys Track Team Adds to Region Title Count

 Jarrod E. Stephens

The Ashland Beacon

Jarrod Raceland Article


As it is with any sport, Raceland’s track season began with specific goals in mind. Seeing seniors excel and bringing up younger runners to capture a Region 7 title were goals that were all checked off Raceland track coach Randy Helton’s list. However, the evening of the event didn’t look too promising as spring rains pelted the track and severe weather warnings were issued.


After the rain subsided, the gun began each race as eighteen teams vied for the Region 7 Title. While the weather conditions were not ideal, many of the final results were exceptional for the Raceland team. With emotions running high and competition at its peak, you never know who is going to step up and surprise themselves and even the coaches. Some athletes and teams earned individual praise from Helton.

“Senior Drew Conley finishing 5th in the 110 High Hurdles (projected 6th), & Sean Short finishing 5th in the 800 Meter Dash (Unranked going into the meet) really surprised me. Our 4 x 800 Relay shaved off 15 seconds and set a new P.R. time of 9:26. Their previous best time was 9:41.  Also, Xander Jenkins set a new P.R. in the pole vault, clearing 11'0. Sean Short set a new P.R. in the 800 Meter Dash with a time of 2:18. His previous best time was 2:33.”

The following members of Raceland’s track team qualified individually for the State Class A meet which will be held on June 1st, 2023 at the University of Kentucky’s track and field complex. Jules Farrow - Long Jump (1st Place), Mason Lykins - High Jump (2nd Place), Xander Jenkins - Pole Vault (1st Place), Cole Conlon - 110 High Hurdles (2nd Place), 4 x 200 Relay - 2nd Place (Mason Lykins, Brody Austin, Cam Bell & Ty Tyson), 4 x 100 Relay - 1st Place (Christian Waugh, Cam Bell, Brody Austin & Ty Tyson), Christian Waugh - 400 Meter Dash (2nd Place), Max Burton - 300 Meter Low Hurdles (2nd Place), Ty Tyson - 200 Meter Dash (2nd Place), & Evan Burroughs - Discus (1st Place), Riley Lewis & Cam Bryan (Unified 2 x 50 Relay) - 2nd Place.

The team may have other At-Large qualifiers for the state meet, but won't know until the other regional meets are finished.

Coach Helton’s teams have had a lot of success throughout the years. When asked about his years as head coach, he is never at a loss for words. “This is my 15th year as the Boys Head Track Coach. 14 full seasons if you subtract the Covid-19 Season, which was cancelled. We now have won 18 Regional Championships in school history. This is the eighth regional title since I have been the head coach.”

Coaches John Wilburn, Travis Bell, Travis Burton, Malcolm Byrd and Nate Webb also stayed busy keeping the runner loose and making sure that each one checked in to each event.

After the Region 7 trophy was firmly secured in Helton’s hands, he knew this title was special. “They're all special, but this one is special because it's our first title since 2018. Normally, we've been fortunate enough not to go more than three years without winning a title.”

The season isn’t over yet, and Coach Helton has a few more items to check off his list. “As always, our ultimate goal is to win a state championship (as a team & in individual events). We also want the kids to enjoy & experience the magnitude State Meet so they will want to work hard to make it back in 2024.”

The Rams will compete on June 1st for their first State Class A title since 2003.

Rock on Ice Expands to Ashland

Rock on Ice Expands to Ashland

Pamela Hall

 The Ashland Beacon

FB IMG 1683832515372

If you have had the opportunity to attend a formal function, whether in a social setting or corporate setting, you have probably seen beautiful ice sculptures at the buffet table. If not, most of us have at least seen them on television or in movies.

Rock On Ice is a Columbus/Cincinnati-based company that produces such ice sculptures, and they are expanding into the Ashland area! Jon Maggard, Director of Sales for the company, who also has the ability to make the sculptures, grew up in Ashland and currently makes his home here.



Just how did a guy from Boyd County get into ice sculpting? Maggard has had an interesting life, in that he has worked in several different occupations. In 1999, he attended culinary arts school which resulted in employment as a chef in Columbus. While a culinary student, he was required to take a class in ice sculpting where he met someone that would become an important part of his life.

“My instructor was Greg Butauski,” Maggard said, “who is a world champion ice sculptor. He started Rock On Ice in 1993 and has clients such as the Cincinnati Reds and Columbus Blue Jackets, to name a few.”

Did you know ice sculpting is an Olympic sport? Butauski was captain of the USA ice sculpting team at the 2002 Winter Olympics and is a gold medalist. Among his numerous awards, he is also a Certified Master Carver, of which there are only a few in the entire world. He is certainly well qualified as an instructor.

Maggard learned the tools of the trade, you might say, with Butauski. Those tools include chainsaws, handsaws, chisels, angle grinders, and die grinders. Those are not really tools you would associate with a chef!

Maggard eventually left the restaurant where he was chef and moved back to Ashland in 2009. He gained a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and currently works at Cabell Huntington Hospital. During the pandemic, he decided to further his education and completed his Master’s degree in Business Administration.

“When I completed my Master’s degree,” Maggard explained, “Butauski asked me to come on board with Rock On Ice as Director of Sales. I still work as a nurse as well.”

Rock On Ice not only produces sculptures but also makes specialty cocktail ice cubes. These may have a company logo, a sports or holiday theme, letters, or have various shapes. They can be great for corporate events, weddings, or even reunions. The cubes and ice spheres are available for home use at Ashland Foodfair.

Ice is only one aspect of the business. In addition, Rock On Ice does pumpkin carving, sand sculptures, and ice sculpting demonstrations and speed carving shows at various festivals.

“We actually opened for Willie Nelson once at the Columbus Polaris Amphitheater,” Maggard said with a laugh.

Whether you need an ice sculpture for your event, specialty ice cubes, or a carving or sculpting demonstration, Rock On Ice can do it all! They also deliver anywhere in the Tri-State.

“We are very excited to be expanding into the Tri-State,” Maggard said. “We offer something unique that will make your event extra special.”

For inquiries or more information, feel free to email Jon Maggard at You can follow Rock On Ice on all social media platforms or visit their website,

Local Veterinarian Encourages Gifted and Talented Students

Local Veterinarian Encourages Gifted and Talented Students

Pamela Hall

Ashland Beacon

 image0 10

Fifth grade students in the gifted and talented education program in the Ashland Independent Schools system were recently rewarded with an end-of-year field trip to Guardian Animal Medical Center in Flatwoods. Dr. M.J. Wixsom, the veterinarian who owns the facility, has volunteered time each Wednesday throughout the school year to meet with the students and teach them, not only about animal care but on a variety of subjects.

Jeff Kennard, a teacher in the gifted and talented program in Ashland for the past two school years, invited Dr. Wixsom to be a part of the program after numerous discussions they had regarding education for those students who are academically and artistically talented. Since both Dr. Wixsom and Mr. Kennard were both gifted students, it was a subject that was near and dear to both of them.


The CATS Academy, which stands for Creative and Artistically Talented Scholars, services students from grades three through seven. It has been in place for many years but known as CATS Academy for the past several years. Students are chosen based on various tests and teacher recommendations. They are provided with enrichment classes in academics, drama, music, creativity, and artistic elements.   

The seventh grade students end the year by taking the ACT test, for which the school district pays the testing fee. Once students begin eighth grade, they phase into advanced education classes, known as AP classes, in order to continue in the gifted program through the end of high school.

Michelle Graham is also one of the teachers in the program and Barbara Shivel serves as an assistant.

“Sean Howard, our Superintendent, is very supportive of the gifted and talented program,” Mr. Kennard acknowledged. “He’s done a lot for these kids in terms of providing what they need to be successful.”

“When I was raising my child,” Dr. Wixsom said, “I was active in the school gifted program at Verity. I enjoyed it, but … it was a lot of work and my enthusiasm waned. Time passed and Mr. Kennard asked me if I would visit his classes. We talked a bit, and I agreed if I could teach whatever I wanted. I had free reign of topics to teach.”

Dr. Wixsom brought various animals for the students to see, such as guinea pigs, kittens, and hawks.  In addition, Dr. Wixsom taught about the Incas, various places such as Iditarod and Galapagos, microloans, the U.S. Coast Guard (of which she is a veteran), falconry, animal habitats, and other topics. She ended the year teaching about being kind to others and the effects of not being nice as opposed to what it feels like to be nice.

“Some people don't understand that highly gifted children and teens are at a higher risk of suicide than their age peers,” Dr. Wixsom explained. “It’s somewhat because they don't feel that they really fit in. I wanted to teach them that while it may not be fun to be profoundly gifted as a child, it rocks as an adult.”

On the tour of Guardian Animal Medical Center, the students were able to see various animals that were there for either treatment or boarding purposes. They also got to bathe dogs, view x-rays of broken bones and unborn puppies, see how ultrasounds are taken, and even scrub up as though doing surgery.

“This is a culminating activity to come here and get to tour the facility,” Mr. Kennard said. “Dr. Wixsom’s teaching has been a great experience for the kids. This was a great bonus field trip for them.”

For more information about Kentucky’s gifted and talented program across the state, visit the Kentucky education website at:

Eastern Kentucky Guitar Show Returns to Boyd County

Eastern Kentucky Guitar Show Returns to Boyd County

Sasha Bush

The Ashland Beacon

IMG 0873

Someone once said that behind every good guitarist is a woman saying, “Do you really need another guitar?” The answer is an unequivocal YES! One can never have too many guitars in one’s possession and that’s why guitar enthusiasts from all around are eagerly awaiting the return of what many consider to be the best guitar show. The Eastern Kentucky Guitar Show was founded seven years ago and has been growing steadily ever since. In the beginning, this annual event was held at what was then known as Kyova Mall and started out with around 25 to 30 vendors. Over the years, the EKGS has grown in popularity and size.


From humble beginnings, this event has become a favorite among the area’s avid guitarists and musicians alike. Jeff Ware, one of the founders of the EKGS shared the reason behind how it all got started some seven years ago, “You always heard about the guitar shows being held in places like Cincinnati (Ohio), Cleveland (Ohio), and other big cities. So, my friends and I started thinking and decided that we wanted to bring a guitar show to this area. You know a little closer to home. We also wanted to make sure that our guitar show was accessible to all, so we wanted to keep our admission prices lower than most.”

The first Eastern Kentucky Guitar Show was a huge success and has only continued to grow from year to year. Ware shared that this year’s show was already sold out as far as vendor space was concerned. “We have a total of 54 vendors that have rented out space for this upcoming show,” shared Ware. This year, the Eastern Kentucky Guitar Show will be held at the Boyd County Community Center, located at 15605 KY- 180, Catlettsburg KY, on May 7, 2023. The time of the show is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and admission is five dollars. You are welcome to bring in your own instruments for a little wheeling and dealing. All general admission guitars and instruments will be tagged.

Included with the general five-dollar admission, you will also have your ticket included for a drawing for a unique door prize. This year’s door prize is a Dean Z Select Bass from The Bassment, owned by Tom Olsen. The beautiful mahogany neck and body, ebony fingerboard, active/passive fishman fluence Humbucker pickups, Grover turners, and black satin finish is sure to strike a chord in any guitar collector’s heart. The value of this door prize is $1219.99, and it could be yours for the very low price of a five-dollar admission ticket should your ticket number be called. There will be something for everyone’s musical taste at this year’s Eastern Kentucky Guitar Show. This is one event you don’t want to miss because you never know what you might find.