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February 7, 1978 Around Adair with Ed Waggener

The column below first appeared in the February 7, 1978 issue of the Adair County News. Topics included a new TV station, a big farm sale, boom times in Porland, and an accidental downtown lake. --Pen

By Ed Waggener

New TV Station in Adair
Sue and Marshall Rowe of Miami Route think that Adair County already has a TV station on the air. Sunday night, just as it was getting dark and colder, Marshall called for Sue to come watch Channel 6. There was no picture, but WAIN was coming in as clear as noon.

Farm sells despite snow
The 300-acre farm of Don Mitchell, located just over the Adair-Green County line in Green County, on the west side of Highway 61, sold Saturday for $140,700 to Mr. B.J. Montgomery of Greensburg. There was a good crowd from several counties, despite the snow. A large number of Adair Countians were there. The farm is one of the prettiest in South Central Kentucky. The sale was handled by Buck Watson, Richard Walker, Opal Watson and Charles Barnes of Watson & Walker Real Estate, Columbia.

There's action at Portland
After the auction Saturday, my partner, Tom Waggener and I drove over to beautiful downtown Portland. There was only one place in the whole city where it was possible for the car to get hung in the snow, and I found it. Fortunately Mayor Garnett Baker came over and helped me out.

Baker is all over the city seeing that things run right, going from Garnett Kessler's Portland Store to the new D&H Stop 'n Shop, to the Portland Recreation Center.

There is good trade at all three establishments. Several cars were in front of the Portland Store, and out front, a group of farmers were listening to the American Agricultural Movement tape.

The Portland Recreation Center is one of the most unusual businesses in the county. From the outside, it looks like a new gambrel-roofed dairy barn. Inside, it is divided into two main areas. There's the pool, ping-pong, Rook, fooz-ball, pinball and snack bar end, toward town; and on the other end, there's space for a new restaurant. In the warm days, the softball field next over brings Portland's greatest activity.

Brothers Larry and James Rodgers own the place. They are Coakley Rodgers' sons.

The restaurant isn't open yet. They're still waiting on the wiring and for the weather to break.

But the recreation room is open, and it's busy.
Mayer Baker showed Tom and me around the place, and I volunteered to shoot pool with him. However, he is handier with a cue than I am, and, as everybody knows, hospitality ends when two gentlemen chalk up. He won, three games to zip.

Squaredeal not around
Over at the D&H Stop 'n Shop, operators Brenda Hatcher and Doris Downey were on the premises, but the big shot of the place, Mayor Squaredeal Downey of Columbia, was nowhere to be seen. I think that may explain why the ladies were doing such a good job running the place. Mrs. Downey runs the fabric shop; Brenda hatcher runs the restaurant. They serve mighty fine hamburgers. Tom agreed with me.

More for the town
I don't look for Portland to ever overtake Edmonton or Greensburg, or Columbia, but it does appear to have a pretty thing going. It's nine to fifteen miles from the next big town, and it serves as convenient gathering place for the farm families on the western side of Adair County, the southern part of Green, and the eastern side of Metcalfe.

Everybody out there may go down the tube one day, but it won't be for lack of trying. There's every reason why a recreation room out in the country should fail, but the Rodgers brothers have as much business as any like establishment around. They're bound to succeed.

If civic pride is an indication of success or failure, though, look for Portland to continue to thrive.

There are ample precedents for why Portland should work, even though the last quarter century has seen many of Adair County's smaller communities shrink and some go away entirely.

The little one-street farm town is the rule, rather than the exception in the agricultural Midwest. And I've seen many places where the most famous restaurant in the area might be at a town no bigger than Portland.

Evanston, Indiana, is an example
I remember stopping in Tell City, Indiana, a few years ago. We stayed at a motel there. We asked the motel owner where a good restaurant could be found. He actually said there wasn't a good one in Tell City. "But if you drive out to Evanston to Das Dutchman, you'll find one of the best restaurants in Indiana." When we drove to the place, that's what we found. Cars were there from everywhere. (It was Saturday night.) And the little town was scarcely bigger than Portland. It was actually more remote than Portland, buried deep out in the Southern Indiana hills.

Other counties have similar successes
There are similar success stories in neighboring counties. Center, in Metcalfe County, has been growing since Edmonton State Bank added a Bank of Center branch and since the Center Jamboree, a country music center, got underway.

Also in Metcalfe County, the ham-dinner capitol, Kathleen Porter's restaurant has drawn thousands from the South Central counties and has added to the prosperity of that once-famous resort town.

In Russell County, there's Eli, a little town which has grown with lake-trade and a community-minded bunch of citizens.

In Casey County, Dunnville, the gate capitol, has actually held the way in economic health for the whole county, although it is only slightly larger than Portland.

Expect anything from Portlanders
I'd expect anything to happen in Portland. Right now Columbians are talking of opening up a Picture Show. But if they don't hurry, the next thing we'll be writing about is a new Cinema at Portland.

And who knows, they may have a shopping mall before Columbia does. Portland is on the move.

Want to fish in town? Try Fortune Lake
Columbia may have a tourist attraction it's not touting. Fortune Lake, a man- made body of water, is situated in the middle of Fortune Street between the Municipal Parking Lot and Flowers Ford.

It's deep enough for a good fish pond, if the city would just stock it. And in winter, it makes a better ice rink than the Belvedere in Louisville.

The lake is actually an accident, the result of some strange engineering when the parking lot was built. If the city is not going to develop its recreational potential, I hope that it is re-engineered to make it disappear. If it isn't drained, the city may find itself paying for a Datsun someday. One of those low things could drown in Fortune Lake.

This story was posted on 2019-12-15 12:47:51
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