Skip to main content

Nearly 1,000 excited fourth-grade students in Pulaski County got to personally meet Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear and take home a free children’s book at the second annual “Read Pulaski County” event on Wednesday at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset.

Beshear joined students and teachers from the Pulaski County School District, Somerset and Science Hill Independent School Districts, and Somerset Christian School at the literacy event and book presentation to encourage students to build critical reading skills at an early age.

“Read Pulaski County,” hosted by The Center and Forward in the Fifth in partnership with Somerset businessman Chuck Coldiron and other local sponsors, drew fourth-grade students from Pulaski County’s three public school districts and Somerset Christian School.

Each child present received a complimentary copy of the children’s book, “Matilda,” or the beloved children’s classic, “Charlotte’s Web.”

“Reading and increased literacy is the foundation to a quality education. I want to thank Mr. Coldiron for his generous book donation to inspire and encourage reading in Pulaski County.”

Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear

This is the second year Colidron has presented “Read Pulaski County” as a way to get students excited about reading.

“First Lady Jane Beshear is passionate about education, and it could be that her presence is the inspiration for some of these young people to strive for greatness,” Coldiron said. “If a book and a pizza lunch can inspire some of these students to read more, it’s a very small investment to make in the long-term future of Pulaski County.”

The Center and Forward in the Fifth support “Read Pulaski County” through their continuous efforts to advance education in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.

Lonnie Lawson, president and CEO of The Center for Rural Development

“There is no greater gift that a community can give its young people than the love of reading,” said Lonnie Lawson, president and CEO of The Center. “Exploring the world through a book opens the mind like nothing else.”

“Mr. Coldiron should be commended for his generosity and vision for Pulaski County,” Jim Tackett, executive director of Forward in the Fifth, added. “Forward in the Fifth challenges others in this community and region to join us in prioritizing education with words and actions. Our future is too important to leave literacy to chance.”

Forward in the Fifth, a nonprofit organization and affiliate of The Center, was formed in 1986 by U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers and other leaders to work to reserve low educational attainment levels in the Fifth Congressional District.

Prior to the book presentation, Beshear met privately with school superintendents and community leaders upstairs in The Center’s boardroom for a roundtable discussion about educational issues.

Later, she talked to students gathered in the Exhibit Hall about the importance of developing good reading skills and challenged fourth-graders to continue reading during summer break.

During the program, fourth-grade students talked one-on-one with published author Nan Marino in a live Skype broadcast presented by Carol Sexton, children’s librarian at Pulaski County Public Library.

Marino, a public librarian from New Jersey and author of the children’s book, “Neil Armstrong is My Uncle & Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me,” read an excerpt from the book and participated in a question-and-answer session with the students.

Additionally, Clear Channel Lake Cumberland was at The Center from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. for live remote and on-air interviews with Mrs. Beshear and other “Read Pulaski County” participants.

“Read Pulaski County” was presented in partnership with The Center, Forward in the Fifth, Hyundai of Somerset, Donatos of Somerset, Clear Channel Lake Cumberland, and Pulaski County Public Library.

For more information about Forward in the Fifth, contact executive director Jim Tackett at 606-677-6000 or email

[flickrset id=”72157629795240161″ thumbnail=”square” photos=”” overlay=”true” size=”square”]