Community is the heart of Russell, Kentucky

Everyone wants to live in a community that is beautiful, safe, and friendly. We want low crime rates, privacy, and quiet neighborhoods, but with plenty of entertainment, dining, and recreation opportunities nearby. We want things to do and pretty things to look at. We want paved roads and smooth sidewalks; good schools and quick emergency response times, all while having low tax rates and minimal regulations. Nobody wants to live in world of blight.

But no one wants to do that at the risk of the underprivileged, elderly, and disabled.

Sometimes, though, interests collide and government leaders are forced to make some difficult decisions.

Such is the case in Russell, Kentucky, part of the tri-state region between Ohio, West Virginia and the bluegrass state.

I’m author Gwen Alyce Clayton. My husband and I moved here last week and found it to be a wonderful community filled with friendly, helpful people who care deeply about their neighbors.

Our first morning waking up in the new home, I joined a Facebook group called Visit Ashland, KY (Ashland is the big city in this neck of the woods). I posted an introduction, saying I was looking forward to meeting new people and getting to know the area.

Over the next four days, I received 47 comments from folks welcoming me to town, many of them suggesting places to check out. The first suggestion was a bakery called Princess Pastry in downtown Russell. It turned out to be great advice. Eddie and I went there and greatly enjoyed the cranberry orange muffins.

While we were eating, Eddie met a Navy veteran named Todd. The two of them started talking military shop (Eddie’s retired Army and served four years in the Marine Corps). At one point, Todd mentioned that he was involved in a project called Revitalize Russell.

That’s when my ears perked up, since I am a professional business writer and getting my master’s degree in economic development. This project sounded totally up my alley.

Economic development is a critical component to any region. It drives growth to our local coffers, creating high-wage jobs and facilitating an improved quality of life. With money circulating in the local economy, government officials have funds to improve public services, and private citizens have more disposable income. Nice looking neighborhoods give residents a sense of pride in their communities, as well as a sense of safety.

After we got home, I hopped online and did my highly academic Google search on Revitalize Russell. The first hit in my Google search was an article in The Daily Independent, the newspaper covering Ashland, Kentucky and surrounding areas. According to an article dated May 6 by reporter Charles Romans, the City of Russell has pulled eminent domain on the property currently used as the Russell Convalescent Home at 407 Ferry Street in Russell, Kentucky.

As I read on, I learned the facility is home to 27 patients who have no family to care for them. These residents have all suffered an illness, injury or operation requiring the help of someone else to resume their day-to-day activities. There are also 12 employees who work there.

Dreama Hedge, the Med Supervisor for Russell Convalescent Home, told The Daily Independent. “Most of my residents don’t have family. So, the only family they know is us.”

Russell Mayor Samuel R. “Ron” Simpson posted a Facebook message dated Aug. 21 saying, “The property will be redeveloped as an open air pavilion so that we can have a farmer’s market and vendor space and also a play area for children and families with some additional parking for that space.”

He included an artist’s rendering of the planned use.

Now, I didn’t talk to anyone about this. And I’m not going to, even though the journalist in me wants to dig deep into the issue. But, for the purpose of this video, all I want to say is Russell, Kentucky is great little city. I’m happy to be here and I understand the need to revitalize the downtown area. No one wants to live in a town rife with urban decay. If we don’t create a vibrant community, we can’t generate tax revenue, which means we won’t have money to spend on public services.

The demolition of the rehabilitation facility is going to happen, and in my opinion, it’s a waste of time fighting it. However, it’s on us as individuals to come to the aid of the residents of the Russell Convalescent Home. If you want to help them, you can donate to their GoFundMe account.


The Daily Independent “50-year facility may have to close” by Charles Romans

The Daily Independent “Fate of RCH in hot debate” by Charles Romans

Press Release from the Mayor’s Office, Russell Kentucky, August 21, 2021

Russell Convalescent Home

My Books

Fermata Cellars

Zinfandel’s Grimoire



Published by Gwen Clayton

Gwen Clayton is a freelance writer living in Ashland, Kentucky. She is the former editor of the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly, and has written for numerous other publications since 1986. Her first book, the paranormal thriller "Fermata Cellars," was published in 2016, and her Bible-inspired short story, "Purr: A story of love, lions and a Hebrew named Daniel," was released in 2019. She recently finished writing, "Zinfandel’s Grimoire," which is the sequel to 'Fermata;' that book is in the editing and design phase of publication. Her current works in progress include the third book in the Rivervine Trilogy, tentatively titled, "Comatis Unveiled," and the nonfiction, "Dragon's Poker Table: A rocker chick's breast cancer journey." Her books are independently published under the imprint, Rivervine LLC. In addition to writing books, Clayton contracts as a copywriter for local, small businesses.

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