1959 Middlesboro and a few more memories

Published 10:54 am Friday, August 16, 2019

By Dr. William H. Baker

Contributing Writer

A story in the Middlesboro Daily News this week suggested one more column on 1959 Middlesboro and the dedication of the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.

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The headline “Golf4Grants awards grant to Middlesboro teacher Gilley” was focused on a fundraising golf scramble held at Middlesboro Golf Course last Saturday.

In a sense, this story appears to have nothing to do with the dedication of the park 60 years ago. And I might agree except for the name of Scott Ballard, Middlesboro native, who directed the event and who was assisted by Middlesboro Alumni and Friends.

Ballard is a graduate of Middlesboro High School, Class of 1982. His parents, Jim and Kay Ballard, owned and operated WMIK Radio for several years. His grandparents, Maurice and Helen Henry, published the Middlesboro Daily News, and his great-grandfather was Dr. Robert L. Kincaid, an early editor of the Daily News and president of Lincoln Memorial University in the 1940s and 1950s.

So, the Golf4Grants scramble sent me scrambling for some more memories of the leaders in the efforts to establish a national park at Cumberland Gap.

Few of the volunteers, and there were many, could match the Kincaid-Henry families in that movement.

Dr. Kincaid, whose history of The Wilderness Road has become a classic, advocated the park as early as the 1920s and 1930s when he was editor of the Daily News. He continued his volunteer work leading up to the Congressional approval of the park in 1940 and well beyond.

Now, 60 years after the dedication, Scott Ballard reminds us of the importance of giving back to the communities we love. By following in the footsteps of family members, he is in the fourth generation to provide leadership and direction to efforts that benefit a new generation.

He is quoted in this week’s newspaper, saying “We have a ton of people that sponsor us, and community support is through the roof. Without the interest, support and sponsorship we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.” Echoing a family tradition of service, he goes on to say, “We want to leave a legacy of positive influence and tradition in the area.”

This year, Middlesboro High School teacher Luke Gilley and his students in Aerospace and Engineering classes are the immediate beneficiaries of Golf4Grants. Other teachers and students reap the rewards from an annual golf tournament at Wasioto Winds in addition to the golf scramble at the Middlesboro Golf Course.

And, all who live and work in the Middlesboro area can share in a sense of pride in the innovative classroom teachers and the dedication of Scott Ballard who comes home to a place and a program that he says “…means the world to me.”

William H. Baker is a native of Claiborne County and former resident of Middlesboro. Email: wbaker@limestone.edu