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Great day for Wayside Exhibits dedication

A dozen or so photographs accompany this article

By Ed Waggener

It was a great day for for the dedication of the Wayside Exhibits at Gradyville on Saturday, August 13, 2007.

The weather was pleasant, for a change, after the withering heat earlier in the week, for the 50 or so people who gathered to dedicate the Wayside Exhibits at Gradyville commemorating the Gradyville Flood and Adair County native E.A. Diddle.

Columbia-Adair County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sue Stivers presided, opening the event with a moment of silent prayer to remember the victims of the Gradyville Flood of June 7, 2007, and to remember a very special citizen who loved the Gradyville community so very much, Hooty Gist.


Adair County Judge Ann Melton gave greetings on the occasion, and shared a moving story from her knowledge of the tragic events of one hundred years ago about an eye-witness who had seen people fighting for their lives while being washed away in the flood waters in one flash of lightning. In the next the next, she recalled, "They were gone, not to be seen until their bodies were found much later."

Two featured speakers were former Western Kentucky University Coach Jim Richards, an Adair County native who played baseball under Coach Diddle; and J.W. Keltner, who shared memories of the Gradyville Flood told to him when he was a child.

Several individuals and groups were recognized by Sue Stivers, including the following:
  • Vonnie Kolbenschlag, who did the research and wrote the narratives for both the Ed Diddle exhibit and the Gradyville Flood exhibit.

  • George Kolbenschlag, whose photographs illustrate the exhibits.

  • Daril and Frances Salyers, the owners of the property on which the Wayside Exhibits are located.

  • Speakers Jim Richards and J.W. Keltner for agreeing to share memories of Coach Diddle and the Gradyville Flood.

  • Paul Hayes, editor of the Adair Progress who grew up in the Gradyville Community, for newspaper publicity and time given to research the location of the exhibits.

  • ColumbiaMagazine.com and editor Ed Waggener: for publicity about the exhibit and the archives of the extensive history of The Gradyville Flood and whose editors first presented the idea of the commemorative markers and the event.

  • Adair County Judge Executive Ann Melton, Columbia Mayor Pat Bell, and Adair County Fourth District Magistrate Perry Reeder, for their outstanding support of the project, and for the their support of tourism in Adair County. "Tourism is now the number three industry in Adair County," Stivers said.

  • The Columbia-Adair County Tourism Commission and the Columbia Landscape and Garden Center for the beautiful landscaping of the wayside exhibits.

  • Vicki Kidd, President and CEO of Southern and Eastern Kentucky Tourism Development Association (SEKTDA); Jeff Crowe, Scenic Byways Director and U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers for securing Federal funding for tourism projects in the 47 counties of southern and eastern Kentucky, and a second thanks to Congressman Hall Rogers for making funding available for the exhibits.


This story was posted on 2007-08-13 06:21:45
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Before dedication: Wayside Markers at Gradyville, KY



2007-08-12 - Gradyville, KY - Photo By Ed Waggener.
Frances Salyers, at an Adair County scene which gets prettier and prettier. Salyers is co-proprietor with husband Daril Salyers of D & F Grocery & Deli, the hub of modern day Gradyville, at the newly landscaped wayside markers on the store's campus. The photo was taken before the dedication of the markers yesterday, Saturday, August 11, 2007. Since the Salyers' took over the store, a voting house has been placed on the grounds, community games have been encouraged, a residence has been added, and the brush has been cleared on the west end to make entrances and exits safer. The Wayside exhibits honor Gradyville native E.A. Diddle and commemorate the June 7, 2007 Gradyville Flood. Inscriptions on the markers were researched and written by Vonnie Kolbenschlag, accompanied by beautiful photographs by George Koblenschlag.

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Gradyville Wayside Exhibits dedication: Sue Stivers speaks



2007-08-13 - Gradyville, KY - Photo By Ed Waggener, at the direction of J.A. Moore.
Columbia-Adair County Tourism Director Sue Stivers spoke to the gathering Saturday, August 11, 2007, at Gradyville. Behind her, in the orange shirt, is Fourth District Magistrate Perry Reeder, Paul Hayes, who had helped research the location of the exhibit; Columbia Mayor Pat Bell: Jim Richards, who shared memories of Coach Diddle; Campbellsville Attorney Barry Bertram, whose father had taught school in Gradyville; Don Shaw, Campbellsville, KY; Willard Smith, Campbellsville, KY.

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Gradyville Wayside Exhibits dedication: Jim Richards



2007-08-13 - Gradyville, KY - Photo By Ed Waggener, at the direction of J.A. Moore.
Jim Richards, one of Kentucky's most spellbinding motivators, told the story of Coach E.A. Diddle as he remembered him: A great man who was a master psychologist.

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Gradyville Wayside Exhibits dedication: Coy England



2007-08-13 - Gradyville, KY - Photo By Ed Waggener.
Coy England, Gradyville, KY, is a favorite member at D&F Grocery & Deli, in Gradyville, KY, was at the store during the dedication of the Wayside Markers, Saturday.

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Gradyville Wayside Exhibits dedication: Dr. Hugh Smith



2007-08-13 - Gradyville, KY - Photo By Frances Salyers.
Dr. Hugh Smith, Russell Springs, KY was busy taking pictures of the Wayside Exhibits dedication on Saturday, August 11, 2007. Dr. Smith is a member of the community, attending every major event at D&F Deli & Grocery. He had encouraged organizers to commemorate the Gradyville Flood on its 100th anniversary.He has an extensive collection of wonderful Gradyville pictures, collected over many years. Dr. Smith is a retired after a successful career in dentistry in Russell County.

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Gradyville Wayside Exhibits dedication: Reunion



2007-08-13 - Gradyville, KY - Photo By Ed Waggener.
Sharing memories:: From left, Jimmy Harper, Columbia, KY; Don Shaw, Willard Smith, and Barry Bertram (straw hat, hidden), all of Campbellsville, KY, and Jim Richards, Bowling Green. Richards recalled the serious moments when Shaw was a dreaded competitor when he played for a powerful Campbellsville High School team against hometown Columbia High School during the 1950s. The fertilizer trucks in the background are at Janes Fertilizer Company, a leading Gradyville employer and farm supply store serving Adair, Green, and Metcalfe Counties.

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Gradyville Wayside Exhibits dedication: Remembering victims



2007-08-13 - Gradyville, KY - Photo By Frances Salyers, co-proprietor, D&F Grocery.
Adair County Judge-Executive Ann Melton shares a story she'd read in old accounts of the Gradyville Flood about the terrible tragedy of June 7, 1907, when 21 people perished. From left, above, are Sue Stivers, (Melton), Columbia Mayor Patrick R. Bell, and Jim Richards. Later, Gradyville historian J.W. Keltner would explain that the the count of 21 people included an unborn child.

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Gradyville Wayside Exhibits dedication: Observers



2007-08-13 - Gradyville, KY - Photo By Frances Salyers.
Observers with the coolest spot on the grounds, in the shade by the little branch, were left, Ed Waggener, and right, Tommy Hardison.

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Gradyville Wayside Exhibits dedication: Bro. Bill



2007-08-13 - Gradyville, KY - Photo By Ed Waggener.
Bro. Bill Davenport is now an important part of the Gradyviille scene. He is now the proprietor of Sparks Mill, in Gradvyille. It says so on the sign of the restored Gradyville landmark. He opens the mill on special occasions for social functions, checker and chess games, and recollecting. Bro. Bill was on hand for the dedication of the Wayside Exhibits Saturday, August 11, 2007. The reflection in the door pane is that of Adair County Tourism Executive Director Sue Stivers.

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Gradyville Wayside Exhibits dedication: Dignitaries



2007-08-13 - Gradyville, KY - Photo By Ed Waggener.
On a day when everybody in town was a dignitary, these three were still accorded the special deference due them: From left, Joseph Parnell, educator; still All-Kentucky basketball player Ralph Shearer, and Jim Richards, retired Western Kentucky University basketball coach, motivational speaker, and noted grandfather. Richards was a featured speaker, along with Gradyville historian J.W. Keltner.

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Gradyville Wayside Exhibits dedication: Remembering victims



2007-08-13 - Gradyville, KY - Photo By Ed Waggener.
In deep thought before speaking Gradyville historian J.W. Keltner carrying the bible of the day, Volume I of Michael Watson's "Hisotry of Adair County, KY." Mr. Keltner recalled stories he'd heard as a child from his parents, the late Marvin and Daisy Keltner, about the events of the terrible day in 1907 when 21 Gradyvillians were lost when Big Creek flooded its valley.

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Gradyville Wayside Exhibits dedication: J.W.Keltner



2007-08-13 - Gradyville, KY - Photo By Ed Waggener.
A scene from the dedication Left, J.W. Keltner. Standing, with camera, Dr. Hugh Smith, then Bob Moss. In lower right hand corner is George Kolbenschlag, the photographer whose works adorn the exhibits.

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Gradyville Wayside Exhibits dedication: Listening



2007-08-13 - Gradyville, KY - Photo By Ed Waggener.
Listening to J.W. Keltner recall stories his parents told him, from the shade of the Gradyville-Nell voting house on the D&F Grocery & Deli grounds at Gradyville, was this group.

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Gradyville Wayside Exhibits dedication: Ann



2007-08-13 - Gradyville, KY - Photo By Ed Waggener.
Before the dedication: Ann with husband Gary Melton, right, and left, Fourth District Magistrate Perry Reeder, in whose district the exhibit is located.

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Gradyville Wayside Exhibits dedication: A leaving scene



2007-08-13 - Gradyville, Adair County, KY - Photo By Ed Waggener.
A scene from the Saturday, August 11, 2007, dedication of the Wayside Exhibits commemorating the Gradyville Flood and Gradyville native E.A. Diddle. The view is to the north side of KY 80.

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