The Boys of Fall: September 20, 2022

James Collier

Ashland Beacon



   Ashland and West Jessamine decided to play some basketball Friday night in Nicholasville,

at least that is what the final score might have indicated. 

   Combining for 132 total points—91 by halftime—the Tomcats and the Colts offenses showed off with Ashland getting the final say in a 69-63 shootout. 

   Terell Jordan provided one of few defensive plays in the contest, but his pick-6 gave Ashland the lead for good. Braxton Jennings rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns and LaBryant Strader added 142 yards on the ground and a pair of scores. Strader went 15 of 21 through the air for 222 yards and 3TDs. Brandon Houston hauled in four balls for 140 yards and a pair of touchdowns. 

   Altogether, Ashland tallied 576 total yards of offense in the win. 

   Ashland heads to Hazard Friday night. 



   Mason County tried running Boyd County out of its own stadium after taking a 13-0 lead to the locker room Friday night. 

   But the Lions had other plans as they found pay dirt twice in the second half while holding the visiting Royals out of the end zone the rest of the way. Trailing 13-12 after a Josh Thornton 18-yard touchdown pass from Rhett Holbrook with 7:13 to play, all the Lions needed was an extra point to even the affair.

   The attempt never made it to the Cole Thompson’s foot as a botched snapped force Boyd County into a 2-point conversion try that failed, allowing Mason County to escape with a 13-12 win. Boyd County failed to convert on both extra point attempts with the first being blocked. 

   Dakota Thompson got the Lions on the board with nine minutes to play in the third on a 1-yard TD plunge. A pair of Malachi Wheeler runs set up the scoring play for the first Lions points of the night. Wheeler led the Lions with 100 yards on 14 carries. 

   Rhett Holbrook threw for 230 yards with Thornton hauling in 94 yards on nine balls. 

   Boyd County welcomes Harrison County to begin district play Friday night. 



   Raceland showed Friday night it's not how long you have the ball but what you do with it when you possess it. 

   Raceland totaled eight drives when it welcomed West Carter for Homecoming to Rams Stadium and the result was nothing less than dominant. The Rams visited the end zone seven of its eight offensive series with the eighth being the final snap in victory formation for a 67-7 win over the Comets. 

   After forcing a three-and-out by the Comets to start the contest, Raceland marched 67 yards on six plays with Parker Fannin taking care of the final 55 for a 7-0 lead. Logan Lundy found Fannin over the middle and the shifty receiver found a seam to the endzone for his longest catch of the season. 

   The drive was the first of many to come, including three one-play drives of 36, 27 and 43 yards. Lundy threw for 236 yards and four touchdowns before handing the ball off to the backup quarterback midway through the second quarter after the Rams put the running clock in motion with 5:02 to play in the frame. Fannin led the Rams with five catches for 135 yards and a pair of scores. Conner Hughes had two grabs for 46, both landing in the end zone. Brayden Webb secured his first touchdown on the season on a 36-yard hook up with Lundy to close out the points from the air raid attack. 

   Lundy added a rushing TD to his total with a 3-yard dive. Isaac Browning’s 27-yard trip to pay dirt capped off a 28-point first quarter for Raceland and Isaiah Dinger’s 27-yard scamper closed the book on the Rams offensive point production. But the defense got in on the scoring frenzy in the second half after Bryson Rowsey’s 80-yard scoop-and-score and a Parker Ison 30-yard Pick-6. 

   Raceland visits Greenup County Friday night in the Backyard Brawl. 



   Greenup County found itself in a tight contest at Rowan County Friday night leading 13-6 at the break. But a 21-point second half explosion by the Musketeers rushing attack propelled them to a 34-6 win over the Vikings. 

   Tyson Sammons accounted for both Greenup County scores in the opening half after falling behind 6-0 to open the contest. Sammons dashed 14 yards to paydirt to give the Musketeers a 7-6 lead after Carson Wireman’s PAT split the uprights. Sammons second, a 3-yard plunge just before halftime gave Greenup County a 13-6 edge at the break. 

   The Musketeers signal caller gave his squad some breathing room midway through the third with his third score of the night, a 12-yard run and a 20-6 lead. Rushing scores by Ike Henderson and Waylon Perkins of one and six yards, respectively in the fourth quarter closed out the scoring in the contest. 

   Henderson led the Greenup County ground game with 159 yards on 29 carries. Sammons added 147 on 13 totes. 

   Greenup County welcomes Raceland Friday night at 7:30 p.m. for Homecoming. 



   An early lead fell to the wayside for Russell when the Devils visited Montgomery County Friday night. 

   The lead, however, would not hold up as the Devils fell, 21-17. 

   Ethan Pack threw for 222 yards, Carson Patrick caught five passes for 115 yards and Andre Richardson-Crews ran for 140 yards and a touchdown in the losing effort. Ethan Oborne provided the other Russell touchdown and caught five passes for 94 yards. Nathan Totten tacked on a field goal. 

   Russell welcomes Paul Lawrence Dunbar Friday night. 



   A week after snapping a winless streak that stretched nearly two years, Fairview was hungry for its second victory on the year when Green, OH visited Westwood.

   The Bobcats had other plans. 

   The Eagles found themselves on the mat and a standing eight count against them when the visiting Bobcats blitzed the Eagles for 28 first half points and a 28-7 lead before the half. Trailing 28-12 at the half, Fairview could not find an answer to slow down Green’s Nathaniel Brannigan who tap danced to pay dirt four times and tallied 216 rushing yards in the Bobcats 43-18 win. 

   Austin Miller provided Fairview with a pair of rushing touchdowns in the second and third quarter. His first went for 24 yards and added a 3-yard score late in the third. Cade Thomas hauled in a 30-yard touchdown pass from Miller just before the half.

   Miller threw for 167 yards while rushing for a team-high 86 yards. 

   Fairview visits Leslie County Friday night.  

Harvesting Faith, Family and Farming

Deidra Bowling-Meade

The Ashland Beacon


   “The BlackHorse Farm is the place to be.  Farm livin’ is the life for me.  Land spreadin’ out so far and wide.  Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.”  You might be singing this little tune once you visit the authentic horse farm located in Rush, Kentucky known as the BlackHorse Farm.  This farm has the most breathtaking atmosphere with friendly owners who make you feel like family.  

   Farm Day at the BlackHorse Farm will be September 24 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  This day coincides with the Heritage Harvest Tour sponsored by the Boyd and Lawrence County Extension Offices.  This will be the second year the BlackHorse Farm has been a part of the tour.  Jessica Adkins, who owns the farm with her husband, discussed the importance of participating:  “Rural Appalachia is making big moves, and we love all of the stops on the tour and the farmers; we want to promote rural Eastern Kentucky as much as possible. It's a great way to allow people who have never experienced a rural way of life- to come out and experience it.”  

   Admission to BlackHorse Farm is only $5 per person to come to the farm. Admission is sold at the gate, and children 12 and under are free.  Activities include bluegrass music by the legendary band Hammertowne, barn tours, horse/pony rides (one ride is included in admission), carriage rides (additional fee), farrier/teeth floater demonstrations and trackless train rides (additional fee). You can even get up close with their farm animals and a camel!  

   In addition to the Farm Day events at the BlackHorse Farm, people can stop by Buddy’s Clubhouse Grill, which is also owned by Adkins.  Supper and picnic boxes will be available for people to bring a blanket to sit on the lawn or dine in the climate controlled indoor area.  Picnic box menu items include: chili, pork barbeque sandwich, grilled cheese sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chicken salad sandwiches, pimento cheese sandwiches, hot dogs and desserts. The regular menu is also available, in addition to delivery services.  Adkins said, “We deliver to ‘my people’ who are sometimes left out of delivery ranges in larger businesses.” Adkins makes sure to treat her customers like family.  

   Participating in Farm Day is a wonderful way to build back communication and grow more as a community since the pandemic. “Now, more than ever, we want to allow families and children the opportunity to be exposed to our way of farm life; the focus is on faith, family and farming,” shared Adkins. Since 2015 when the BlackHorse Farm was established, the Adkins family has maintained their focus.  Each year they have served Boyd County with several events such as the Bethlehem Experience, open farm days and egg hunts.  Weddings, receptions, and special events for parties can also be held at the Blackhorse Farm. 

   The Adkins family is involved with several business opportunities in Boyd County.  Adkins’ love for her community shines through her daily living.  Adkins spoke proudly of the connection she has with the area saying, “My husband built and designed our entire farm. I grew up two roads over from my place now. It was called Long Branch Road. My grandparents are buried in a cemetery on that road. Rush is my home. I am so blessed to have three businesses in Boyd County. The BlackHorse Farm (established 2015), Diamond Links (we bought in 2017) and we started Buddy's Clubhouse Grill in 2019.”  For Adkins, this is more than just a business and lifestyle, it’s worth preserving for generations to come.  

   The BlackHorse Farm is located at 18517 State Route 854 in Rush, Kentucky.  Buddy’s Clubhouse Grill at Diamond Links Golf Course is located at 200 Fairway Drive in Catlettsburg, Kentucky.  Make sure to support these local businesses in Boyd County, and come enjoy Farm Day on September 24 where faith, family and farming are harvested in abundance.

Marty Conley Forges New Path to Boost Tourism in the Tri-State

Emily C. Roush

The Ashland Beacon


   In 2017, Russell resident Marty Conley found himself at a crossroads.  After 10 years of working at AK Steel, the plant closed, and he was laid off.  One option was to move elsewhere to find work, but he was determined to find a way to stay.   He recalled, “we could have moved very easily.  My daughters were in high school, and my wife is a teacher.  We could have moved to Michigan, but this is home.”  Conley had been working in manufacturing and industry for almost three decades.  The prospect of changing direction was daunting and something he described as a “pivotal point.”  He explained, “I had worked in manufacturing type work for 27 years.  That’s what I knew, but I wanted to try something new.  Was it a scary decision to make?  Absolutely.”  Instead of immediately seeking a full-time job, Conley chose to go back to college.  “I didn’t work for two years.  I just buckled down and went back to school.  [It was the] scariest thing I have ever done in my life.  I relied on my family and had great support.” 

   While completing a bachelor’s degree in applied management from Ohio University Southern, an internship at the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce in South Point led to a new career path as the Director of the Lawrence County Convention and Visitors Bureau (  “I was [at the Chamber of Commerce] and got to know the staff.  They did not have that position full and asked me to apply. I kind of thought, ‘this is what I want, but am I ready?’”  At this point, Conley had already honed one skillset that would serve him well in the position:  photography.  

   Over that last several years, Conley has become known as a prolific photographer across the region documenting sporting events, festivals, and concerts.  It all started 17 years ago when he coached his now adult sons’ little league baseball team.  He used some of the photos he had taken of them to create personalized posters for their bedroom.  During one of the games, he noticed his wife, Amber, showing the posters to other parents.  “I blame this all on her,” Conley joked.  He continued, “by the end of the season I had made several posters.  [Amber] told me, ‘you really need to do this.’”  

   The pair ran a studio in Flatwoods for several years, but live action has always been Conley’s favorite style of photography.  He jumped at the chance to photograph events.  “I just pounded the pavement.  Sports was something that I knew, and then I got into music.  Music was something that I loved.  I tried to build a strong portfolio and network.”  When he first began photography work, he set two goals that at the time felt out of reach.  “I wanted to shoot a Kentucky basketball game and a KISS concert just to say that I’d done it.  I thought, ‘I’m not going to be able to do that.  I’m just learning.’ Six years later, I had already done both.  Anything else is just a bonus,” he said with a smile.  Conley’s sports photography has included everything from little league to collegiate and professional teams, and he has been featured in numerous publications including The Greater Ashland Beacon.  He has covered events like Summer Motion and is currently the venue photographer for Mountain Health Arena in Huntington and the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.  “I have been really fortunate over the years.  [Photography] has led me to doing some cool things at the University of Kentucky, Marshall University, and the Cincinnati Reds.  I have gotten to see my sports heroes.  I love all genres of music.  To see some of those artists, get to meet them, and still have contact with them has been amazing.  How cool is that?”

   Through photographing sporting events, concerts, and festivals, Conley has seen firsthand their economic impact and how they can draw tourists to the region.  It has also helped him build a network of colleagues in the industry.  “My media list and contacts are folks that I have probably worked with or know through [photography].  I am a people person and love working with the public.”  Conley’s collaborative nature drives his work at the Convention and Visitors Bureau.  “Tourism is huge for the local economy.  The great thing about me working here is it that this is also our Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development office.  With all three of us, it’s amazing because I will tap into those assets too.  When a new business comes, they will ask me ‘what is there for our employees to do?’  We all work together.”  

   Since becoming the Convention and Visitors Bureau Director in 2019, Conley has spearheaded several notable programs that have ripple effects beyond Lawrence County.  One of his first undertakings was a passion project that had an unexpected tie to Russell.  “I came across the fact that 2019 was the 100th anniversary of the Ironton Tanks [football team].  I’m a sports guy.  What I found interesting was the history and grassroots efforts of how [the team came to be].  I followed the history from Ironton to Portsmouth and then to the present-day Detroit Lions.  There was a constant in between all those teams, Mr. Glenn Presnell.  He played for all three, and he gave the Detroit Lions the colors they wear today.  Every year the Lions play in a Thanksgiving game.  That started in Ironton as well.  These little tidbits in history are fascinating.  Another thing that linked me to the history is that Mr. Presnell coached Russell High School football in 1928 and ’29.  Digging up that kind of stuff has been great.”

   Conley contacted the Detroit Lions to see if they would participate in a commemoration of the Ironton Tanks centennial.  “I go big from the get-go,” he laughed.  When they did not immediately respond, he reached out to the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, OH.  They had an Ironton Tanks jersey in their collections that they agreed to loan for an event.  Eventually, the Lions called Conley; he was so surprised to see “Detroit Lions” on the caller ID that he took a photo of it.  They were receptive to the event and sent one of their players to Ironton to speak at a special luncheon with local football coaches and players in attendance.  Later that evening there was an additional recognition of the Tanks at the Ironton High School football game.  

   The Convention and Visitors Bureau recently announced the inclusion of Lawrence County in the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities (RERC) program.  This special initiative from the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Forestry Service helps small towns and counties across the country identify strategies to grow their outdoor recreation and tourism economies.  Conley explained, “recreation is huge nationwide right now, and we really need to expand on that.  Recreation tourism was almost like low-hanging fruit for us because we have the only national forest in Ohio right here.  Wayne National Forest takes up almost two-thirds of Lawrence County.”  

   Conley started the application for RERC last year.  Only 10 communities across the country would be chosen, but he thought it was still worth a shot.  After an initial rejection, Conley received a call from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).  They had seen Lawrence County’s application and wanted to help.  ARC’s involvement led the RERC program to expand to 25 communities.  Lawrence County was one of 12 chosen from the Appalachian region.  Conley is thrilled to work with a steering committee next year on programs to build recreation tourism both in Wayne National Forrest and the rest of the county.  “The forest is nice, and so is the Ohio River.  The river is an untapped resource that we have in our broader area.  I am going for opportunities that we can do along the river.  I would love to have opportunities where people with boats could stop here.”

   Another untapped resource Conley plans to explore is history tourism.  “I love local history, and I think it is something that that can be grown upon.”  For six months, he began working on a large collaborative grant application that involved counties from across the Tri-State.  “We applied in April of this year for an ARC Power Grant.  [This is] a $1.5 million dollar grant for heritage tourism and history. There are nine counties connected here in Ohio along with Boyd and Greenup Counties in Kentucky and Cabell and Wayne Counties in West Virginia.  Our plan is to have a historical trail that emphasizes the Underground Railroad.  Historical tourism is amazing,” he said.  

   He continued, “I met some of the folks in Brown County in Ohio.  One of their biggest tourism stops is the Rankin House in Ripley.  It’s very significant, and people come just to see and tour the house.”  The John Rankin House is a historical house museum that was the home to abolitionist John Rankin and was an original stop on the Underground Railroad.  Rankin later moved to Ironton and passed away in what is now the Lawrence County Museum.  Some of his personal items are now artifacts in the museum’s collections.  This inspired Conley.  “I was telling the folks at the Rankin House about this [Ironton connection] and thinking ‘why do we not have this taught or known?’”  According to Conley, the goal if chosen for the grant is to mark 27 Underground Railroad sites over a three-year period in all the participating counties and states.  The Convention and Visitors Bureau is working with historians from Marshall, Shawnee State University, Ohio University, and Ashland Community and Technical College.  “We are getting the colleges involved for proper research.  We do not want to have anything that is not factual.  This is a big project that we are working on,” he emphasized.  

   Projects like this have furthered Conley’s mission of collaborating and building relationships with organizations across state borders.  “When you drive to work in the morning, you see people crossing the bridges and license plates from all three states.  We need each other.  I will help promote other [counties and states].  I want Lawrence County to flourish but we all need to work together.”  

   Conley’s ultimate objectives with all his projects both in photography and at the Convention and Visitors Bureau are to highlight the positives in the region to attract tourists as well potential employers, thus helping to build the region’s economy.  “There are a lot of moving parts.  It’s not going to happen overnight,” he asserted.  Conley hopes his contributions create conditions and opportunities for people to build their lives here.  “We’ve got hard working folks here.  My goal with all of this, going back to school and working [at the Convention and Visitors Burea], is the fact that I don’t want another family faced with the decisions that we had to make.  If I can keep one family here from having to move, I have done my job.  I know what I went through to make that happen.  This is home for me.  Will my kids stay here?  I don’t know.  I would love for them to, but I want to stay.  That is very important to me.”

Carving a Delicious Path

Deidra Bowling-Meade

The Ashland Beacon


   Mothers always say, “Don’t play with your food.”  Fortunately, 17-year-old Liam Ferguson was encouraged by his mother to create whatever he envisioned, including the presentation of food.  Ferguson’s mother, Amber Ferguson, who is a blogger and music teacher, was trying to find inspiration for a gluten, dairy, and egg free recipe to feature in a blog.  Little did Ferguson’s mother know the hidden talent her son possessed until he showed her his strawberry masterpiece.  Ferguson came to his mother’s rescue and ended up being featured for his culinary genius in the June/July publicized magazine Cottages & Bungalows, where he created a rose-shaped bouquet out of strawberries.  

   Using a paring knife, Ferguson made a small diagonal slit at the base of the strawberry.  He continued making slits around the bottom of the strawberry until the cut pieces resembled petals.  It took approximately five slits for a medium strawberry.  Ferguson noted that the petals were fragile and must not be overhandled.  Holding the tip of the strawberry helped Ferguson to use the knife to gently open the petals downward.  Once the petals were made out of the strawberries, Ferguson placed each strawberry on the pointed end of a wooden skewer to arrange as a bouquet.  Ferguson says, “Presentation makes a difference.  There’s no point in having food that doesn’t look and taste good.”  

   Ferguson’s interest with culinary arts started the spring of 2020 when he started working in the commercial kitchen at Bellefonte Country Club.  Ferguson stated, “I began with basic food prep, such as salads and appetizers and then moved to working parties and banquets. I have several dietary restrictions and wanted to create food that looks appealing.  I don’t want to even try foods if they don’t look good.”  This led Ferguson to study on his own the science of taste.  Ferguson’s passion was evident as he explained molecular gastronomy in layman terms, “It’s why we like certain foods. The more appealing the food is, it draws us in.”  Unusual presentation techniques are part of molecular gastronomy, whether it’s carving strawberries into an eloquent bouquet of flowers or adding gas such as CO2 to pureed foods to produce foams.  

   When asked why learning the culinary arts is so important for this generation, Ferguson discussed the importance of “food tradition being passed on to family” and “changing the food culture from that of eating fast food to sitting at the table with family.”  Ferguson continued, “Food culture can tell a lot about where you’re from.”  Ferguson is proud of his roots and growing up in a family dedicated to the arts.  Ferguson will undoubtedly put Ashland on the map for his artistic talents, and also his passion and appreciation for quality food. Ferguson dreams of working in New York one day or even getting to try his hand at creating edible balloons from Alinea Restaurant in Chicago.  As a senior at Paul Blazer High School, Ferguson plans on applying to a culinary arts school and carving his own path. 

On a Wing and a Prayer: Salyers Delivers More Than Invocation at Fairview

Gary Newman

The Ashland Beacon


   Friday night, just prior to the Fairview Eagles victory over Morgan County, the homecoming crowd fell silent and stood as the echo of the invocation spread across the entire valley.  The impact of the invocation and the man offering it covered much more ground across a much greater space of time.

    Since 2014, Fairview sports and graduations have had one common theme, and that would be the sincere, heartfelt prayers of local Pastor Jack Salyers.  Year after year, game after game, class after class he’s been a consistently reassuring presence offering more than a simple pre-game tradition.  He was reaching out to heaven for all those participating and all those who could hear the petition he makes before each home game and every graduation.  

   Salyers is in his second stint as Pastor of Ironville Enterprise Church on Donta Road and has been Pastor since 2001, which followed an initial pastorate from 1985-1989.  He first became associated with Fairview Independent Schools in 1998 as a member of the maintenance staff, where he worked for 19 years until his retirement in 2017.  “Being an employee, being associated with the student body, we went to a lot of the ball games,” he shared, continuing, “I went to many of the graduations.”  

   He recalled folks knew that he was a minister, so one night, whoever had been doing the prayer was not able to be there, and they asked him.  He gladly accepted.  “I love these people. I’ve been associated with them for years,” Salyers recounted, “and the people have been encouraging in regards to the prayers.  I’ll hear from folks who tell me they enjoy and appreciate the words I’ve prayed.”  

   The longtime Pastor has no intention of stopping.  “As long as they want me,” Salyers described his dedication to praying at Fairview events, “I consider it an honor anytime you give out a prayer for someone.  As a minister or a Christian, it is our duty and our privilege.” He conveyed, “I’ve forgotten, for a moment, the impact of the prayer but I’m reminded, and when I hear that voice echoing across that field, we remember how small we are and how big God is.” 

   Salyers is just fine where he is, too.  Pastor. Prayer leader. Encourager.  It’s like he’s in the place he was always supposed to be.  He sums it up in a few simple words, “It’s where God places you. It’s a calling.”