Highland’s Museum is a S.M.A.S.H.!

Highland’s Museum is a S.M.A.S.H.!

Pamela Hall

The Ashland Beacon

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The Highland’s Museum & Discovery Center is Ashland’s very own gem of area culture and history preservation. There are wonderful displays and exhibits that are interesting to visitors of all ages. The Museum is dedicated, not only to preserving the history and culture of our area through these displays, exhibits, and events, but also promoting and providing interactive education experiences and programs. In a step toward the fulfillment of that dedication, there is a new educational program being offered on Thursday mornings at 11:00 called the S.M.A.S.H. Club.


The S.M.A.S.H. Club, which stands for Science, Math, Arts, Social Studies, and Health, is designed for children between the ages of two to five. However, everyone in the family may participate in the fun of learning.

“We did a trial run of the program in August,” said Karen Pierzala, Education Coordinator for the Highland’s Museum & Discovery Center. “It was so successful that we decided to continue with it.”

Each week, the program explores one of the subjects that the title represents. The visitors to the S.M.A.S.H. Club will learn about a particular topic within the specified subject for that week.

For example, in August for the week on Arts, the participants learned about American artist Jackson Pollock, who was known for his technique of splashing or splattering paint onto a canvas that was placed horizontally instead of vertically. S.M.A.S.H. Club participants then had the fun and enjoyment of creating their own splash or splatter painting.

For the next five weeks, the S.M.A.S.H. Club has scheduled topics that will be both fun and interesting, which is the best way to promote and encourage education and learning. The S.M.A.S.H. Club schedule and topic agenda for the next five weeks is:

            September 7 – Science: Rain in a Jar

            September 14 – Math: Corduroy’s Button Patterns

            September 21 – Art: Pointillism Painting

            September 28 – Social Studies: Community Helpers

            October 5 – Fruits and Vegetables

The Highland’s Museum is also starting a S.M.A.S.H. Club punch card incentive. Each week that participants attend, their cards will be punched. For every five visits to the S.M.A.S.H. Club, the children will receive a special prize! What’s more fun than that?!

The cost of the S.M.A.S.H. Club events is included in the price of admission to the Museum, or Museum Membership. All S.M.A.S.H. Club activities are included at no extra charge.

The Highland’s Museum & Discovery Center is also a great resource for those who are involved in homeschooling, as well as other school groups. The Museum is currently booking tours and workshops for schools and homeschooling groups. To find out how to schedule a tour or workshop for your group, or for more information on the S.M.A.S.H. Club, contact Karen Pierzala, Education Coordinator, by calling the Museum at 606.329.8888. You may also email her at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Make sure to set aside time to attend the S.M.A.S.H. Club on Thursday mornings at 11:00 at the Highland’s Museum & Discovery Center. You just might learn something new and have fun, too!

One Young Entrepreneur’s Vision Becomes a Reality

One Young Entrepreneur’s Vision Becomes a Reality

Sasha Bush

The Ashland Beacon

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            Starting up a new business often begins with an “ah-ha moment.” During that “ah-ha moment,” an idea is born. To make one’s dreams become a reality one doesn’t need to have a 100-person company, a big empty building, or even a ton of cash. What you do need is an idea, a plan of action, and a desire to see that idea put into action. Once that idea has been put into action, you have officially entered the world of entrepreneurship.


            Often people have misconceptions about who can and cannot become an entrepreneur. Sadly, far too many people are blind to the fact that age doesn’t matter when it comes to starting up and running a small business. In fact, young entrepreneurship is at an all-time high. According to a recent study conducted by the Junior Achievement and EY, 13% of adult entrepreneurs started their businesses before the age of 18.

            There is nothing more inspiring or powerful than a young child who believes in their dreams and ideas so much that they are willing to go above and beyond to make those dreams a reality. One local young lady has accomplished just that. Riley Maynard is not your typical 11-year-old girl. She is a softball-loving powerhouse, with a heart of gold, and the mindset that if you can believe it, you can achieve it! It is because of that mindset that Maynard is now the owner of a very successful business.

            While shopping one day with her mother, Miss. Maynard had an epiphany… she was going to start up her custom glitter hair gel business and call it Simply Graces Glitter. The name Simply Graces Glitter is the brainchild of young Maynard and her mother Jackie Maynard. “We were just shopping one day, and we saw some different hair gels and then the idea just kind of came up out of the blue… I can do that!” shared Maynard.

            After sharing her business plan with her mother, they both quickly got to work on making Maynard’s vision a reality. It didn’t take long to figure out a game plan and soon began purchasing supplies. “First, we went to Etsy and looked up all the different kinds of charms and decorative items we could get to put in the hair gel. We bought a lot of fun charms. After that, we headed to the Dollar Tree and bought some different colors of hair gel,” shared Maynard.

            Maynard’s business specializes in custom-made-to-order hair gels.  Maynard explained, “You begin by choosing what size of hair gel you want to purchase. Then, you pick the color of your glitter, the scent, and any charms you want to have in it.” Simply Graces Glitter offers three size choices: Small- $6.00, Medium-$8.00, and Large-$10.00. They offer a wide variety of hair gel colors, scents, and sports-themed charms. One of Maynard’s biggest sellers is her softball-themed hair gels. If you would like to purchase your own custom hair gel, you can do so by checking out Simply Graces Glitter's Facebook page.

            Maynard shared, “The best part about owning my own business is being able to talk to all the kids and see how happy they are.” Simply Graces Glitter has now been open for a little over a year and is still going strong. Maynard hopes to continue with that momentum over the course of the next few years and plans on saving all her profits to use for college, where she plans on pursuing a degree in engineering. 

Local Comic Wes Thompson Opening for Tom Arnold

Local Comic Wes Thompson Opening for Tom Arnold

Kathy Clayton

The Ashland Beacon


                A fun evening is in store for everyone when local comic Wes Thompson opens the show for LA-based comedian and actor Tom Arnold at the Paramount Arts Center on September 8.

                “I did stand up the first time at 17 years old, at the Comedy Zone, a comedy club, in Charlotte,” Thompson recalled. “I met someone who hosted open mic night there, and he said I was funny. I had to audition and had to lie about my age – it was a bar and you had to be 18. I thought it was pretty good then, but looking back I was pretty bad.”


                Wes noted that most comedy routines come from life experiences, “so it took getting older to get better at it.” He honed his skills during six years in Los Angeles. “I went up for open mic almost every night, and I was part of a sketch comedy troupe.”

                Thompson was born here in Ashland. Then, his family moved to Rock Hill, North Carolina for a time before landing back in Kentucky where he attended Ashland Community College and then the University of Kentucky. After his stint in LA, he returned to Ashland in 2008.

                “In 2017, I was wanting to get back into it,” he continued. “Mark Satter, my buddy and creative partner, and I wanted to write an hour-long show. We produced it ourselves and made it a charity event. We rented a small space in downtown Ashland and sold out with a show that was about an hour and 20 minutes.”

                That first show turned into an annual event with shows in 2018 and 2019. The Covid pandemic put a halt to live entertainment in 2020 and 2021, but he came back with a show in 2022 at the PAC, “the biggest one yet,” he noted, raising $17,000 for the PAC.

                Thompson emphasized that all proceeds from his shows go to local non-profit organizations. “Outside of that (the PAC shows), people started asking me to do comedy for charity – Hope’s Place, CASA, the Developmental Therapy Center in Huntington.” He’s also raised money for The Neighborhood, Ashland in Motion, and Build Ashland.

                “My comedy style includes pop culture stuff and embarrassing stuff about me – I’m a nervous person, and I use that. For this show, I have a local audience, so I will be making fun of local stuff like the best Giovanni’s and Camden Park,” he said. “I started using Camden Park years ago because it is so unique to this area – it’s like a permanent county fair.”

                Thompson said he has a good relationship with the Paramount Arts Center and “when they announced the Tom Arnold show and it didn’t have an opening act, they asked me.” He will donate his proceeds back to the PAC.

                “I look forward to seeing everybody. Come out, have some laughs and enjoy an evening of good comedy.”

                “I can’t take off and do shows. I’m not a road comic; I have a family,” he explained. “Here, I get to do my comedy and help local non-profits. It’s a win-win from my perspective.”

                He estimates that since he started doing comedy here, he has helped local organizations raise over $50,000 over the past five years.

Blessed With Success

Blessed With Success

Sasha Bush

The Ashland Beacon

 Ayden Davis 2          

            Like all gifts, the gift of music is a gift from God. Music can penetrate our hearts and pull emotions we may not realize we are capable of feeling. If God grants you the gift of voice, you should use it for His glory. One Greenup County teen understood this better than most and took his God-given gift and sang his way right into an international championship. Ayden Davis, a Raceland-Worthington High School graduate of the class of 2023, attends Gateway Church of God and recently had the opportunity to represent his church in the International Teen Talent Program.


            The International Teen Talent Program emphasizes using the phrase, “Our talent for His glory,” and highlights young people from across the Church of God through the Bible, drama, art, music, and multi-media. Davis has always been drawn to performing.  Growing up, he was heavily involved in his school’s music program, a member of the mass chorale for six years, and a member of the chamber choir for four years. He also participated in several productions at the Paramount Arts Center over the years.

“I enjoy singing because it allows me to create scenes to an audience. Depending on how you articulate a song, you can convey countless different emotions and send listeners to wildly different states of mind. Music, to me, is the most important form of art; you can allow the consumer to temporarily feel a variety of different emotions and memories all while having their eyes closed. You can direct the most incredible movie ever made, but if it doesn’t have music, the emotional connection to the audience is never made,” explained Davis.

            Singing isn’t the only thing that Davis adores. “I adore going to church, not just because I get to see my friends, but because I can learn about the Lord and how to better myself as a person. When I started following Jesus, I gained an eternal friend, lifeline and mentor, and that’s something I will forever cherish,” Davis shared.

In the summer of 2019, a good friend invited Davis to attend church with her. “I obliged and enjoyed my time there, but it wasn’t until I went to Kentucky Youth Camp that I devoted myself to Christ. While there, I had an encounter, and I understood that the Lord gave me a purpose, and I needed to follow the path He set for me with the same grace, kindness, and love that He showed me,” noted Davis.

            Church became a very large part of Davis’ life. Davis shared, “Over the next four years, Gateway Church of God became my second family. So many amazing people showed their support for me in every step of my journey. I was involved in youth worship groups, but around this time last year, our praise and worship leader formally asked me to join their entourage.”

            It was because of his relationship with our Lord and Savior, his majestic voice, and his desire to serve that young Davis found himself singing for the Lord at the International Teen Talent awards program. “Earlier this year, one of my youth pastors informed me about the Church of God Teen Talent competition, and that he wanted me to enter. I had heard about the competition previously, but I didn’t know exactly what to expect. He gave me a song, ‘King of Kings,’ performed by Chandler Moore, and I fell in love with the song instantly. It reminds me of the old hymnals that my great-grandmother would sing but had a modern twist that captivated me in the best way possible. That April, we traveled to Lexington to participate in the state competition. I performed with flying colors and won first place, allowing me to advance to internationals,” Davis explained.

            Once he arrived at internationals, Davis found himself amid some fierce competition. Hundreds of teens and young adults from all over the world showed up to compete in the program's many areas of competition such as photography, sculpting, interpretive dance, music and so much more. In the category of male solos, Davis found himself going up against over 40 of the most talented voices from all over the Western Hemisphere.

Davis has developed quite a unique approach to singing. Davis elaborated on his approach, “When I sing, I think about a multitude of different things depending on where I am. If it’s in a concert setting, I’m usually fully focused on things like dynamics, vowel articulation, and overall artistry. However, in a more casual setting, I like to imagine a scene, i.e., a landscape, character, or something else that I believe conveys the feeling of the song, and I try and use my voice to put that image into other people’s minds.”

This unique approach served Davis well at the international competition. “I stepped onstage and gave it my all, focusing on conveying the mental image of Jesus on Calvary, and the sun beaming into his tomb as the stone rolled away. Later that week, awards were held, and I was announced to be the first-place winner,” Davis noted.

In addition to earning the title of International Male Vocalist, Davis was also blessed with a scholarship to his college of choice… Lee University. Davis is now in his first semester. Davis shared, “Lee University is a faith-based school with a heavy focus on their liberal arts. I was granted the opportunity to join the Voices of Lee, an extremely prestigious a cappella group with only 16 members. They travel internationally and have done some pretty incredible things, such as singing at President Obama’s inauguration. I plan on working heavily with the ensemble during my time at Lee, and I’m blessed to have the ability to sing with them. As of right now, I don’t have any concrete plans after I graduate. What I will do; however, is follow the Lord, and He will put me where I need to be.”

Catlettsburg Tradition Continues Labor Day Weekend

Catlettsburg Tradition Continues Labor Day Weekend

Pamela Hall

The Ashland Beacon

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For over 50 years, area residents have gathered each Labor Day weekend in Catlettsburg for an end-of-summer celebration.  Indeed, it has become a tradition for many families, especially for the parade on Labor Day morning and the country music concert that evening.

This year will be no different. The weekend will be packed full of fun things to do. September 2 – 5 will find the streets of Catlettsburg crowded with vendors, food trucks, entertainment, and of course the great citizens of the area.

The events actually start before the weekend on Thursday, August 31 with the Gate City 5K Walk and Run. The starting point for the 5K will be at the Boyd County Extension Office, 2420 Center Street, at 7 p.m. It is sponsored by the Ashland Breakfast Club.


Most everyone enjoys fireworks. Catlettsburg has a special fireworks show planned for Friday night, September 1. The show is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. at 26th Street and the Riverfront.

Saturday afternoon will bring a Community Walk from 1 – 3 p.m. beginning at Catlettsburg Harvest Church of God, 105 36th Street and ending at 26th Street and the Riverfront. Also, at the Riverfront at 4 p.m. is a fun event called the Kenducky Derby. Moving to the Little League Field, 3739 Park Street, is Bash in the Burg sponsored by Giovanni’s of Catlettsburg. Food trucks will be open at 6 p.m. and FTC Pro Wrestling will begin at 7 p.m.

The Thomas R. Brown/CHS Class Reunion will be at Catlettsburg Elementary School on Sunday at 3 p.m. with dinner being served at 5 p.m.  The Jay Humphreys Trio will be in concert on the Courthouse lawn at 4:30 p.m. Bring a lawn chair and enjoy the great music. In case of rain, the concert will be held at England Hill Free Will Baptist Church.

Labor Day Monday brings the events that everyone waits for! Lineup for the parade begins at 8:30 a.m. at Oakland Avenue Baptist Church. The parade starts through downtown Catlettsburg at 10 a.m. This year’s theme is “A Salute to the Volunteer” and the Grand Marshall is Natasha Gussler Kinnan. The Announcer will be Andrew Greene with the Invocation to be given by Rev. Bruce Lee from the Catlettsburg Community Church. Mike Wurts will lead the Pledge of Allegiance and Aaron Bowling, Choir Director at Boyd County High School, will sing the National Anthem and My Old Kentucky Home.

The craft and merchandise vendors who line the streets beginning at 8 a.m. are always good for those who enjoy shopping. You can often find unique items that make great gifts. Of course, the kids will enjoy the carnival rides and arcades, and everyone loves the food trucks! Can’t you just taste that delicious funnel cake and ice-cold lemonade?

The lineup of entertainment for Monday afternoon at the courthouse is stellar! She and I Band will start things off at 11 a.m., followed by Rachel Messer & Conner Dale at noon. Area favorite Shelby Lore performs at 1 p.m. with Mattox Hale closing out the afternoon at 2 p.m.

A little later that evening, you won’t want to miss the main concert event at the main stage on 26th Street and George Jones Way! Singer/Songwriter David Wills starts the evening off at 6:30. Popular duo, Dailey & Vincent, follows at 7:30 with a unique blend of country, bluegrass, and gospel music. Lonestar takes the stage at 9:15 with their award-winning country music. This free concert is sponsored by the City of Catlettsburg and Kindred Communications and promises to be a great close-out to the weekend events.

Don’t miss the fun in Catlettsburg, Labor Day weekend, August 31 – September 4. Check out the Catlettsburg Labor Day Facebook page for more information!