A new year has come and gone in Vinton County.

     I was sad to hear about the loss of well-known citizen Kathy Caudill. She had a 48-year career at the Vinton County National Bank and was a well-respected person. The bank extended its condolences to her family on their Facebook page. They reprinted a story written about Caudill when she retired in 2014. 

     Her contributions to the bank also were recalled to The Telegram by Chief Fiscal Officer Kim Ward, who says her character had a big impact on him.

     "Kathy was one of the 'bank ladies' who took me under her wing and taught me the Vinton County Bank culture,” Ward said. "I have always been grateful for her willingness to pass along her knowledge of the bank to me and many others.”   And Kathy is still doing just that through her daughters, Aimee and Andee. 

     I have had a professional relationship over the years with both daughters. I worked with Aimee at both The Times-Journal and The Vinton County Courier. She was a talented writer and professional paginator (page designer). She played a big part. I especially remember, for our special section, “A Day in the Life,” depicting a typical 24 hours of Jackson and Vinton County life – how she laid out many picture pages. She also made me a better writer and person and I thank her. Aimee eventually left the media and has long been employed at Knox Insurance. Andee is the Vinton County High School Librarian and former Boost After-School Director, and always a student favorite. Both she and Aimee were active in the Athletic Boosters and became community leaders as well. Kathy's daughter, Courtney, who preceded her mother in passing, was a business owner. She owned a home-based bakery and was once a contestant on the nationally-televised Jeopardy Game Show. We at Total Media extend our wishes to the entire family of this fine Vinton County citizen. Thank you, Kathy; we’ll miss you.

***

     The Village of Hamden has made some improvements with the COVID-19 CARES Act money it has received through the federal government, on a couple of important projects. According to Fiscal Officer Kathy Keeney, the council used part of the money to remove the carpet from the historic village hall, complete with a safe when the building was the Citizens Bank; and has put in laminate flooring that can be disinfected. They also made some improvements at the sewer plant as purity issues are important in fighting the spread of COVID. They gave $10,000 to the Hamden United Methodist Church for its food bank. The Fire Department received new helmets, masks, shields and special thermometers; and the employees received hazard pay. Good work by the Hamden Village Council, Fiscal Officer, and Mayor Terry Wiseman.

***

     Many country music fans in Vinton County will be saddened by the loss of Ed Bruce who died Saturday at age 81. He was the writer of the all-time classic, “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.” The best known recorded version is by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. Bruce had the number-one hit, “You’re the Best Break This Ole Heart Ever Had,” “My First Taste of Texas,” and many others. I saw him once on the floating stage on the Ohio River at Huntington, West Virginia, and he put on a fine show.

***

     The Hall of Fame Committee for Vinton County High School has announced there will not be a Hall of Fame Induction Night at one of the basketball games. In a release from the committee, the memo stated the committee is planning to honor the Class of 2020’s Kristin (Collins) Emmert, Jay Palmer and Coach Debra West, along with the yet-to-be-named 2021 Class members. The committee has chosen both athletes and service nominees that have made contributions to Viking sports. A feature on the 2020 class is coming soon in The Telegram.

***

     What a start for the 2020 Lady Vikings basketball team, with a 10-0 record and being state-ranked at number 6. Coach Rod Bentley and the Lady Vikings are setting their sights on the post-season. The Vikings too are doing well as Matt Combs has them winning six of their last seven games. What a night for Braylon Dameron Friday night, with nine three-pointers. Of course, both teams would love to have packed houses as they did before COVID times. Most of the Vikings and Lady Vikings games can be heard on WRYO (98.7 FM) and streamed on yourtotalmedia/radio.

***

     One last shout-out goes to Vinton County Engineer Roy Depue, Highway Superintendent Jason Walker, and the entire crew for the work they did over the Christmas holiday blizzard. It is tough to be away from family members on Christmas morning but there was a job to do and the bell was answered. I am sure their indoor wash basin they inherited when they moved into the former State Highway Garage came in handy. Good work, and I am sure the travelers appreciated it.

***

    A hearty “Tip of the Hat” to all!