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History Professor Receives State Media Award

Berry Craigs admiration for the works of American writer and Kentucky Poet Laureate Jesse Stuart began many years ago. A history professor at West Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC), Craig first read Stuarts short stories, poetry and novels about the Kentucky mountains in grade school and as a graduate student, he worked to catalog Stuarts works in the campus library at Murray State University (MSU) in 1972.

Nearly 40 years later, things have come full circle. Craig, a veteran journalist and author, was recently honored by the Kentucky School Media Association with the 2011 Jesse Stuart Award at a conference in Louisville. The annual award recognizes individuals and/or organizations that have made major contributions to the development of media relating to Kentucky. I feel very honored that the KSMA feels my books are worthy of this award, Craig said.

Former KSMA President and Lone High School Librarian Brenda Metzger agreed saying, we are so proud to recognize Berry both as a representative of WKCTC and Western Kentucky.

Craig isnt the only one in his family with a connection to Jesse Stuart. His wife, Melinda received the Jesse Stuart Fellowship from MSU in 1978 as a graduate student in English. Its neat that both Melinda and I have had a connection to Stuart since our college days, Craig said. MSU currently awards the annual fellowship to full-time entering or first-time graduate students in mass communications.

One of the reasons Berry was chosen for this years Jesse Stuart Award was for the wonderful contribution his books have made to WKCTC student scholarships, said Joyce Adams, KSMA nominating committee chair and Paducah Tilghman High School librarian.

Craigs first three books, True Tales of Old-Time Kentucky Politics: Bombast, Bourbon amp; Burgoo, Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War and Hidden History of Kentucky Soldiers have raised nearly $3,500 for WKCTC student scholarships. His fourth book, Hidden History of Western Kentucky, which was just released, will continue the tradition.

Selling my books to raise money for scholarships is my way of thanking those special students who keep me coming back year after year, said Craig.
His new book penetrates "the depths of the region's lesser-known history and brings to light the people, places and events that have shaped Kentucky's west."

Each of Craigs four books cost $21.20, tax included. Books can be purchased in the PJC Foundation office in Carson Hall on the WKCTC campus or through the mail. The cost for a mailed copy is $23.70, which includes postage and handling. Books can be purchased with cash or check. Checks should be made out to the PJC foundation. The mailing address for book orders is Kay Travis, WKCTC, P.O. Box 2380, Paducah, KY. 42002. For more information, contact Travis at (270) 543-3084 or kay.travis@kctcs.edu .

Craig, who lives in Mayfield, has been on the WKCTC faculty since 1989. He earned a bachelors degree in history at Murray State University, where he added master of arts degrees in history and journalism. He was a feature writer and columnist for the Sun-Democrat and Paducah Sun for many years.