Author Archives: Christian Watson

SIRA 2017 Installation of Officers & Awards Ceremony

Southern Indiana Realtors Association (SIRA) hosted its 2017 Installation of Officers & Awards Ceremony Dec. 8 at Horseshoe Southern Indiana. The evening included a welcome by SIRA CEO Glenda Gasparine, the swearing in of the 2018 SIRA Board of Directors, including Incoming-President Vince Hopper, as well as several awards, including to 2017 Realtor of the Year Kathi Combs Byrd of Schuler Bauer. Juice Box Heroes finished the night with a performance that kept those in attendance on the dance floor.


Exit | December 2017

screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-2-15-23-amPhoto by Angie Fenton

At 6 a.m. Nov. 16, Q103.1 Morning Host Dingo Crank and Mike Benson of A1 Porta Potty ascended their respective scissor lifts – Dingo at Buffalo Wild Wings on Westport Road in Louisville and Mike at Coyle Chevrolet in Clarksville – where they both committed to reside for the next 103 hours to compel the community to donate new bikes for kids. Despite the wild weather over the next several days, which ranged from 65+ degrees to rain to a hard frost, Mike and Dingo persisted. So, too, did the Kentuckiana community. Early morning on Nov. 20, just before sunrise and with the end of the event in sight, we checked in with Mike, who said he was ready, understandably, for a hot shower but also was emotional about the outpouring of love and donations. Dingo, in his Facebook posts, echoed the same sentiments. (FYI: Dingo did this solo in 2016.) As of press time, 2025 bikes had been collected on both sides of the river with many more expected to be purchased with the monetary donations Mike and Dingo also received. “When I look out, I see each (bike) as a kid on Christmas,” Mike said, choking up as he surveyed the hundreds of new bikes. “We’re just characters up here. This is for the kids.”



German American Bank’s Oktoberfest

Oct. 25 • German American Sellersburg branch

German American Bank hosted Oktoberfest Oct. 25 at the Sellersburg branch. The invitation-only event featured live music, German food, fellowship and more.

Photos by Christian Watson


Women’s Empowerment Weekend

Nov. 17 & 18 • 300 Spring in Jeffersonville

Miguel Hampton of F5 Enterprises, LLC Creative Marketing & Photography, Frances Lewis of Ann De Evelyn Clothing Company and Yamilca Rodriguez of Louisville Bespoke hosted the Women’s Empowerment Weekend Nov. 17 and 18. The two-day event kicked off with Fusion: A Fall Fashion Experience on Friday followed by a Saturday morning breakfast seminar.


49th annual New Albany Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast

Nov. 11 • New Albany High School Cafeteria

Photos by Christian Watson

Mayor Jeff Gahan hosted the New Albany Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast Nov. 11 at New Albany High School Cafeteria. Lee Kelly served as master of ceremonies, Steve Crews provided the music, Father Eric Johnson of Our Lady of Perpetual Help gave the blessing and the New Albany High School NJROTC delivered the presentation of colors and pledge. Breakfast was catered by Terri Lynn’s Catering by Design. The group It’s All Relative performed. Rev. John Manzo – of St. Marks United Church of Christ – and Oneita Phillips gave the scripture readings. Sandy Boofter led the Thanksgiving Prayer. Extol Editor in Chief Angie Fenton was the guest speaker. Warren Nash gave the benediction to end the 49th annual event.


SIRA Monte Carlo Night

Sept. 22 • The Grand in New Albany

Photos by Christian Watson

Southern Indiana Realtor Association hosted Monte Carlo Night Sept. 22 at The Grand. Guests were asked to wear flapper- and gangster-style apparel and come out for a night of food, fun and entertainment.


Give Back This Holiday Season

screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-2-11-08-amBy Farrah Alexander 

AS I’VE EXPLAINED to my two small children, different households celebrate different holidays during winter. Many households welcome Christmas and our home welcomes Hanukkah. I grew up in a house that celebrated Christmas, but as I became an adult I found myself on the path to Judaism.

Because I don’t come from a Jewish family with generations of deeply held holiday traditions, it’s up to me as a parent to make my own.

This has been really fun.

Every night of Hanukkah, (which is eight nights, just like the Adam Sandler song), I light the candles on the menorah along with my children, and they put the little felt candles on the menorah we display on a wall in our living room. Then, the moment they really get excited about – presents!

Each night, the kids get a small gift after we light the menorah and it officially becomes the next night of Hanukkah. It may be a book, a set of new pajamas or maybe even a toy they have been asking for every single time we go to Target.

screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-2-11-19-amOne night of Hanukkah always falls on Shabbat, which is the Sabbath or Jewish day of rest on Friday night. This is a particularly special day during Hanukkah. Although Hanukkah is a holiday that comes around once a year, Shabbat is a holiday we celebrate every week.

So, on this night I bring out a gift, show it to my son and explain that it’s not for him.

My children, like so many of ours, are very fortunate and blessed. They live in a safe, climate-controlled home with a loving family. They have access to food whenever they’re hungry. They have clothes and puffy coats to keep them warm when the weather gets chilly. They’re so blessed that they even get gifts that they want for Hanukkah!

On Shabbat during the days of Hanukkah, I remind them of this. I teach them the uncomfortable truth that there are many people, including children like them, that are less fortunate and have significant needs.

This is my way of incorporating the fundamental concept of tzedakah in our holiday traditions. Tzedakah is a Hebrew word that basically means charity in English but is actually derived from a Hebrew root meaning righteousness, justice or fairness. So it’s not simply an act of the more fortunate generously giving to the less fortunate. It’s a duty.

I do this on Shabbat because tzedakah is a fundamental part of Shabbat and this is the perfect time to reinforce this value that shapes our religious and world view. After all, Hanukkah, like Christmas, is a religious holiday. So it’s perfectly appropriate to take this opportunity to teach some of our most basic religious values.

Everyone in my family – my husband and two little ones – receive gifts on each night of Hanukkah excluding Shabbat. In the past, I’ve chosen charities and causes that seem appropriate for each member. For example, when my daughter was just a baby, I donated to a local shelter for women and families. My husband is a veteran who is very committed to issues affecting veterans so I chose to give to a charity benefitting veterans in his name. My son, like most kids, loves toys so I donated a toy a child his age in need would enjoy.

Each year is a little different. I don’t always donate to the same charities. As the kids get older and they become more accustomed to the tradition of tzedakah, I expect and hope they’ll be more involved. Maybe they can choose their own charity or cause to support. Maybe we can donate our time to support those in need together as a family. I hope it’s a tradition they’ll welcome and embrace even if it means they don’t get a special treat that night.

While you’re making your lists of things to get for the holiday season and shopping for your family this year, I encourage you to find some way to give back. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice or nothing at all, the season is perfect for expressing gratitude for your blessings and helping those not as fortunate.

If you’re looking to support a national or international non-profit, Charity Navigator is a fantastic resource for finding highly-rated charities that use their donations wisely and operate efficiently. If you or someone you love is passionate about civil rights, humanitarian relief, animal welfare or a multitude of other causes, I’m confident there’s a great organization you can find and support. You can browse non-profits and check ratings of those you’re interested in on

There are many reputable local charities you can easily support online such as My Dog Eats First, Jill’s Wish Foundation, Family Scholar House, St. Vincent de Paul, Blessings in a Backpack and Kentucky Refugee Ministries.

Many charities cater specifically to local families in need and provide them with a memorable holiday, such as the Center for Women and Families, the Salvation Army Angel Tree and Marine Toys for Tots.

But monetary donations are not the only way to give back. You can donate your time or much needed items to an organization like Exit 0, which benefits the homeless community in Jeffersonville and surrounding area.

Before the holidays is the perfect time to prepare for the influx of new toys and clothes your kids may receive. You can purge the well-loved but still usable items and donate them to a local thrift store or charity for someone else to love.

There are countless opportunities to give back and support our community in need this season. Imagine what an impact we all have the opportunity to make by supporting the wonderful organizations helping our community as well as the values we can instill in our children as we’re spoiling them rotten. I hope you all find a fun way to give back this season and I hope whatever holiday you celebrate is a happy one.


How Thomas Jefferson and King Kong Led to the End of My Child’s Innocence

screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-2-10-54-amBy Ray Lucas 

THIS SUMMER, my 5-year-old son peed on the president’s barn.

We were on vacation and had stopped for the day at Monticello, the home of President Thomas Jefferson. While touring the historic Virginian plantation, we stepped into the presidential stable where my wife and I read about what an avid horse rider Jefferson had been during his lifetime.

I was leaving the barn toward the fenced-in pasture, where TJ’s horses once grazed, when I heard fellow tourists giggling and clicking their camera. Curious, I turned toward the scene that held their attention and discovered my son, shorts and underwear completely around his ankles, peeing on the side of the white-washed barn so dear to Mr. Jefferson. Bare cheeks in the wind, he showed no modesty nor shame.

Containing my smile, it occurred to me in that moment that I was far overdue for a conversation with him about when a boy can and cannot pee in the yard. Walking the grounds toward the Jeffersonian mansion featured on the back of the nickel, we began our talk about being discreet while our fellow tourists were probably posting photos of his transgressions with “Ha-ha” emoji’s on Facebook.

The experience led me to the question, “What other conversations in my life have I been putting off?”

I made a mental list of a few that were seriously overdue.

• “The birds and the bees” part one with the 10-year old son and “the birds and the bees” part two with 17-year-old son.

• “I’m not as crazy about the movie White Christmas as I led you to believe while dating” with wife (I think she already suspected).

• “I’m not so sure Simba really escaped to the woods with all of the other bunnies” explaining the untimely demise of her childhood rabbit, with now 19-year-old daughter. (Sorry, honey!)


A few weeks ago, another conversation came to mind. My wife and I allowed our 5-year-old to watch a movie he had seen the previews for and begged us to watch – King Kong. At the end of the story, our young filmgoer had grown attached to King Kong and was jumping up and down on the couch cheering each time the great ape swatted an attacking biplane out of the sky atop the Empire State Building. Even while his hero took bullets and grew weak, our boy felt certain that Kong would prevail.

Finally, as King Kong slipped from the building and fell to his death our son became sad and confused. He looked at me as if he had been betrayed. His voice quivered: “That’s not supposed to happen.” He couldn’t help himself as he began to weep. He was embarrassed and crying and mad. “Why did the bad boys kill him?” he sobbed. He cried for a solid five minutes as we consoled him. We were both unprepared at how upset the ending had made him.

Obviously, this was another conversation that was overdue – the good guy doesn’t always win. It’s hard to tell your child that there are bad people in the world and sometimes they overpower the good in those around them. One needs only to look at the headlines of the past few months to know this truth.

So why are these conversations hard to have? Sometimes it’s the fear of hurting feelings or bringing up a subject that we find uneasy about ourselves. But these experiences have led me to understand more often than not the hardest conversations to have with our children are the ones that mark the end of a certain innocence that we aren’t ready to see pass.

Most recently I have wrestled with another conversation with our 5-year-old that is long past due: “It’s time for you to sleep all night in your own bed.” We never let his older siblings sleep with us, but as the baby, we would occasionally allow him to slip into our bed in the middle of the night. As a toddler, it was sometimes cramped, but he would snuggle up, put his arms around your neck and smile in his sleep. How could we resist?

Today, he takes up more bed space than I do, kicks the covers off each night and his cold feet usually end up in my wife’s back. We agree that he needs to stay in his own bed, but because we have grown used to the arrangement or because we are typically too tired to get up and lead him to bed, we have not had that final conversation that is way past due. Or perhaps we both fear that this, too, will mark a passing of innocence that we are not ready to see end.

It’s true – our kindergarten son still sleeps with an innocent smile in our bed. Judge me if you like, but at least he no longer pees on presidential barns.


Teaching Love

Clark County Youth Shelter, Top Dog Training and The Arrow Fund teach empathy and compassion


ON A RECENT FRIDAY morning, the youth residents at the Clark County Youth Shelter in Jeffersonville received a special visitor: John Imler, owner of Top Dog Training, brought in an adoptable foster dog named Eclipse.

Over the course of an hour or so, Imler demonstrated to the kids simple training techniques to teach Eclipse easy commands, and then let those interested try for themselves.

The morning was part of a new program that is a collaboration between the Clark County Youth Shelter, Top Dog Training and The Arrow Fund that will hopefully teach the children not only practical life skills but also empathy and compassion awareness.

The program is the brainchild of Imler, who worked at the youth shelter in the past. He brought the idea to Clark County Youth Shelter Executive Director and CEO Laura Fleming-Balmer, who was instantly on board. “There was an immediate interest because I knew from him working here that he fully understood what we do here,” Fleming-Balmer said. “I knew he had thought that out and it would be a good fit. I knew he had thought out the intricacies of doing a program inside this building.”

screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-2-10-34-amIt works like this: The Arrow Fund provides an animal for a youth shelter employee to foster, and Imler comes in once a week to demonstrate training techniques. The hope is the youths will absorb what Imler is doing and then be able to leave the shelter equipped with useful life skills. But there is also the aspiration that caring for the dog – whom they are able to interact with outside of Imler’s training sessions – will help them practice empathy and compassion.

At the session, several young people looked on as Imler showed them how to get Eclipse to walk alongside a human and how the dog could play safely. The Arrow Fund Foster and Adoption Coordinator Kelley Luckett also showed a video that chronicled the troubled history of another dog she has worked with named Zeke. The youths watched Zeke go from neglected and unable to walk to healthy, happy and full of hope. The idea, of course, is to promote a sense of hopefulness and to illustrate that triumph can emerge even in the grimmest of circumstances, a sentiment that is reflected in the training.

“When Eclipse was biting people, I really didn’t get upset; I kind of let him work through it,” Imler said. “Let the dog think and take some time to work through a problem. And if (the youths) can see the dog doing that, maybe someday they’ll be in the same situation where they can stop, think for a few minutes and work it out.”

Luckett also appreciates how far-reaching the program is expected be, how it teaches others to teach kindness. “I have a major interest in this program from the kids’ perspective as far as empathy awareness and empathy building, but it’s two-fold with The Arrow Fund because one of the things that we want to do is prevent animal abuse,” she emphasized. “So, if we can plant the seeds that there are other ways to train animals and ways to work with animals other than hitting them – and if we can touch them and they then touch somebody else – we’re just exponentially growing the impact.”

This has already been seen, in fact, by Clark County Youth Shelter Residential Coordinator Samantha Vaughn, who fosters Eclipse.

screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-2-10-40-amWhen Imler isn’t instructing, she brings the dog in and lets the kids play with him and work on his training, which she points out is evidence of how the program is already having an impact.

“The kids who didn’t really participate today, whenever I bring Eclipse out, they’re playing with him and teaching him things,” she said. “I actually saw one of the kids who hadn’t been here for the first training tap the dog on the nose because he was biting, and then one of the kids who had been here said, ‘No, you don’t do that. Here’s how you can train him.’ So, he was teaching what he’d learned.”

Meanwhile, those who were actively engaged during Imler’s session maintain that they’re thrilled the dog is part of life at the youth shelter.

“Having him here helps with the anxiety,” one youth said. “I would love to take him home with me.” screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-2-10-21-am

Another youngster had the same feeling, though also a touch of sadness: “It was fun. He was so cute, and if I could adopt him, I probably would. … But it brought back a memory of me and my other dog. His name was Boo. He was a mix of Yorkie and Pekingese, and I had to give (him) up to animal control. … I had to give him up and I never saw him again.”

Though this is the first program of its kind at the youth shelter, everything is pointing to it already being a great success.

Eclipse is learning new things and becoming more adoptable at The Arrow Fund, and the youths are showing active interest in the training aspect while also exhibiting genuine compassion.

“Everything we do – I say it at least once a week probably – we’re planting seeds,” Fleming-Balmer said. “Everything that we do here 24-7 is planting seeds for them to take out of here and grow.”


Sock Snowmen

By Morgan Sprigler

Happy Holiday’s Extol Readers! I am about to give you the best gift you will receive all season long, a purpose for all of your random onesie socks! Aren’t you excited?!

My oldest daughter has been asking for a pet for months and she found this craft to be the cuteness equivalent of a Christmas morning puppy. At least, she hasn’t asked about a little fur-ball in over 48 hours (a much needed break for this momma).

The best part about this craft is that you will most likely have all of the items you need right under your roof. So, keep this on your radar for the next snow day!


• White crew cut socks of any size

• Colored socks from your mismatched sock pile (we all have one, right?)

• Rice (lentils or dried beans will work, too)

• Rubber bands (hair ties will also do the job)

• Buttons and embellishment

• Scissors

• Hot glue gun

• Hot glue sticks

screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-2-09-39-amSTEP ONE

Cut the sock in half at the heel, so that you have two sections. One should be ribbed, while the other is solid cotton. I found that the ribbed section, or the ankle of the sock,is best for making a “child” snowman. The solid cotton section, or the foot of the sock, is best for an “adult” snowman. One sock should equal two snowpeople (one child and one adult). Are you following? I hope so.

screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-2-09-53-amSTEP TWO

Tie a rubber band around the side of the ribbed section that you cut from the solid section and then turn inside out. This will allow the sock to hold the rice. The solid section is already closed at the toe, so there is no need for this step for your “adult” snowman.

screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-2-09-58-amSTEP THREE

Fill as far up to the top of each section as you can with your rice, leaving enough space at the top to be able to wrap with another rubber band.

screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-2-10-03-amSTEP FOUR

Using another rubber band, wrap just above the middle of the sock to create the head.

screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-2-09-43-amSTEP FIVE

Because I have two toddlers, I have quite the extensive collection of itty bitty mismatched socks. These worked perfectly to create hats for my snow-people. I just rolled up the opening of the sock a bit and stretched over the head. If you don’t have little socks, that’s OK. You can achieve the same result from a regular sized sock with a little cutting, folding and rolling. You can also use scraps from an old sweater, t-shirt, blanket, etc.

screen-shot-2017-12-05-at-2-10-09-amSTEP SIX

Now the fun part! Find some things around your home you can use for embellishment. I raided my craft-stash for flowers and buttons. If you don’t have a craft-stash (aka Hobby Lobby trinkets and trash) rummage through some of your old clothing. I guarantee you can find something interesting for your little snow guy or gal to show off. Get out your glue gun and go crazy! I actually found them to be sweet without eyes, but my children both disagreed. So, we added some little black dots so their “babies” could see.

Once my girls decide to stop carrying around their snow creatures like baby-dolls, I hope to display them somewhere in our home to enjoy throughout the holidays. They would look precious on top of a mantle, or incorporated into a tablescape. If you have a ton of mismatched socks, you could even do an entire Christmas tree of sock-snowmen. The world is your oyster, people.

Wishing you and your families a blessed Holiday season.