I’m having a hard time understanding Powell County today.
I grew up there. I played baseball there. I went to school there. I attended church there. I met many wonderful friends there.
It is, by and large, a nice, small county, not quite in Central Kentucky, not quite in Eastern Kentucky. It’s nestled somewhere in between, resting quietly at the foothills of the mountains.
But, for reasons I can’t explain, for reasons I can’t even begin to fathom, bad things, tragic things, happen too often to too many good people.
Powell County has slightly more than 13,000 people in it, according to the 2000 Census.
Consider, then, the astronomical odds that such a small county would have experienced all of this in my lifetime (keeping in mind that I’m just 31 years old):
• In 1980, Todd Ice was sentenced to death following an earlier conviction for murdering a 7-year-old girl. He was 15 years old at the time. (The conviction was later reversed, he was tried again and was sentenced to 20 years on a manslaughter verdict).
• On Jan. 15, 1992, Ralph Baze shot and killed the Powell County sheriff and a deputy as they served a warrant on him from another state. Baze was convicted and sentenced to death, where he awaits as he challenges the legality of the state’s death penalty.
• On Aug. 27, 2006, ComAir Flight 5191 crashed shortly after takeoff in Lexington, killing 49 people, including a Powell County native.
• Today, June 13, 2007, Clay City’s police chief was shot and killed after arresting a man.
Any one of these incidents would have rocked a town of similar size for years, but for some reason, Powell County gets hit with these things more than any other place I know.
Why? I can’t tell you.
What I do know, though, is that this small community will unite and help pull everyone through yet another dark time.
We always do.
And we always will.