3 Tigers selected for the Governor’s Scholar

Governor’s Scholar

Congratulations to these three members of the Class of 2024- Brett Gibson, Om Patel, Maisie Ward. These students have been selected to participate in the 2023 Governor’s Scholars Program!

Each of these students represent well-rounded students both athletically and academically who are also active members in their community.


Paintsville breaks ground on football field turf project

Paintsville breaks ground on football field turf project

Paintsville alumni and community members gathered at the Paintsville High School football field April 11 to break ground and mark the beginning of a project to install a turf surface.

The ceremony began at 1 p.m., featuring speeches from Paintsville Superintendent David Gibson, Mayor Bill Mike Runyon and others.

“It’s something to be able to leave our school system and say you graduated from Paintsville,” Gibson said. “I would argue that it’s the highest honor we can bestow on our students. It means something. But also to be a part of a team, the Tiger family, I am honored to be a part of the Tiger family.”

Gibson noted that the new field brings new energy and excitement in anticipation of the first home game, scheduled for Aug. 18.

“Honestly, it’s humbling,” said Gibson. “There’s 130-plus years of tradition here, and the progress that we’ve made and continue to make is incredible. We have a really good board that has the foresight to look towards the future. Our tradition is rich, and it’s the excellence that we represent that is at the heart of our traditions. I’m humbled to be a part of this, and hopefully kids across the region will see the field we have and see the commitment we have academically and encourage them to become a Tiger. Go Tigers.”

The ceremony also included a time capsule, in which students and alumni were encouraged to participate, leaving something behind for future generations of Paintsville Tigers.

“This makes me feel so proud of our school system,” Runyon said. “That we’ve elected to show a lot of progress. There were a lot of people against removing the natural grass, but if you look around you, every school up and down this river is going to turf. We had two choices: we could lag behind, or move forward. We’re choosing to move forward with this new field.”

By Justin Begley Staff Writer

Harris Phelps signs with Centre

Harris Phelps signs with Centre

PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) – One of the best running backs in Paintsville history is on to the next level.

Harris Phelps made it official on Friday, signing his letter of intent with Centre College. The Tiger running back exploded last season with 1,527 rushing yards and 23 all-purpose touchdowns.

Phelps helped lead the Tigers in 2020 to their first-ever state championship, earning MVP of the championship game against Kentucky Country Day.

Copyright 2023 WYMT. All rights reserved.
by John Lowe (WYMT)

Paintsville Food Baskets

‘Small school, big impact’: Paintsville students to have fruitful Christmas break

PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) – Students in Paintsville packed their pantries with produce Thursday, each taking home a bag of fruit as a district Christmas gift.

”Our Board of Education has been adamant that we start helping our kids, because of what’s going on with inflation and stuff,” said superintendent David Gibson. “So, this is one way that we can give back to our community- to give back to our students, who we think are some of the best kids in the world.”

The district used some of its excess funds to buy enough fruit for more than 800 gift bags, then the seniors and juniors at the high school helped divide them up and personalize the bags for their peers.

“This is a small school so it feels more like a family and a community,” said senior Camryn Helton.

The idea to make the district-wide gift something sustainable and substantial was important to administrators. Culinary teacher Melissa Castle said the students were able to take part in giving back in a way that could have a true impact on someone who will be home without school meals in the two weeks to come.

”It’s a gift that they can eat and it’s also a gift that they may not have in their house households every day,” she said. ”We take for granted that everybody has fresh fruits and vegetables in their home and they don’t. So, to be able to offer them something that’s fresh to eat during these next two weeks? I think it’s just a gift that will keep on giving.”

Board member Joe Porter said it was important to the Board of Education to see the students take home the provisions, since they do so much to make the district proud.

“Students appreciate what we do for them, but they do much more for us than we do for them,” he said.

Paintsville High School Principal Tiffany Austin said the project is a drop in the bucket of the outpouring of love her students are always willing to give.

”We may be a small school, but we’re making a big impact,” she said.

Copyright 2022 WYMT. All rights reserved.


BOE Recognizes Volleyball Team

BOE Recognizes Paintsville Volleyball Team

The Paintsville Board of Education took time to recognize the Paintsville volleyball team at their latest regular meeting. “We’ve had a remarkable season,” said Superintendent David Gibson.

Gibson along with Kay Hall said the team won 38 games this season which is a school and region record.

“They won the All “A” State Championship and it was something to behold, we had our backs against the wall and the grit that came through brought us back to win the state championship,” said Gibson.

The Lady Tigers led by Coach Dawn Kinner who took over the program in 2010, went undefeated in the 15th region this year while also winning their 11th district championship and becoming All “A” champions.

“We are only the second public school in the state to get that accomplishment of becoming All “A” champions,” said Hall.

According to Hall, no public school has ever won the All “A” tournament.

Hall said along with the standout season this year, the team also received other accolades including player of the year and coach of the year in the 15th region.

“What you accomplish this year you will remember for the rest of your life,” Gibson said. “It’s something that is very remarkable, so be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Coach Kinner has done a phenomenal job building this program up.”


Paintsville scores playoff road win

Paintsville went on the road to Bishop Brossart and the Tigers turned in a dominating performance, rolling to a 42-16 second round win on Friday night.
Running back Harris Phelps had a big game, rushing for 155 yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries. Grayson Peters added a rushing score.
Quarterback AJ James passed for 172 yards and one touchdown. He completed 11-of-14 passes.
Receiver Austin Allen hauled in the TD pass.
Paintsville, now, 6-5, will play at Pikeville (9-2) in the regional championship game on Friday. Kickoff is 7:30 pm.


Paintsville’s Steam Academy

Paintsville’s Steam Academy

PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) – A $2.5 million investment in education is popping up in Paintsville, with plans to provide career pathways to students in the area.

The STEAM Career Center, opening in the Paintsville Independent Schools office building on Main Street, is embarking on a new era of education for Johnson County’s youth.

“A student success hub, which will bring in some of the latest technology, latest job trainings, latest partnerships- in an individualized way- so our students will have access to what the job market is actually looking for,” said Paintsville Superintendent David Gibson.

The STEAM center will create programs with innovative subjects: Biomedical, engineering, advanced manufacturing, aerospace, robotics, and more. Including partnerships with entities like Awesome, Inc., opening entrepreneurial incubators to build more small businesses across the region.

“A learning center that’s going to really focus down into what the child wants, what the student wants,” said Gibson. “What do they want to do? How do they want to build a career?”

The programs, while rooted in the school’s tradition, seek to expand the minds of the students by letting them carve out a space of their own in the future in the workforce.

“Being able to take a child’s dreams and help them reach those dreams- as far as their career- that’s what education is about,” said Gibson.

The programs will reach out to potential employers and industry, using their input on how to train the next generation, and will allow potential employers to submit ideas for programs that would train students for their specific needs.

The building process is expected to take around three years, remodeling 30,000 square ft. of the current building on Main Street, but Gibson hopes to see small steps begin next year.

He said it is about more than just growing the school district.

“This is about our region. It’s about Appalachia. How can Paintsville Independent- Paintsville, the city of Paintsville- give something back to our region that maybe stops the bleeding a little bit,” he said. “Maybe stop the out-migration. Maybe saves us for a few more years. We want to be part of the solution.”

Copyright 2022 WYMT. All rights reserved.


Tigers volleyball takes the spotlight

ZACK KLEMME: Tigers take their turn in volleyball spotlight

PAINTSVILLE Paintsville High School’s gym turns 70 in December, and its patrons know a big moment when they see one.

The girls basketball state career scoring record was set here on the 2016 night Jenkins’s Whitney Creech poured in 71 points in an overtime triumph over the homestanding Tigers.

The 1996 boys hoops state champions held forth on the court now named after their coach, Bill Mike Runyon. So did two Mr. Basketballs — John Pelphrey (1987) and J.R. VanHoose (1998).

And many roundball 15th Region Tournaments took place here before that event moved to what was then called the East Kentucky Expo Center in 2006.

Never before Monday, though, were the temporary bleachers used to augment seating capacity for big basketball games erected on the gym’s stage for a volleyball match.

The occasion seemed fitting. Nine-time state champion Notre Dame was in town for the first round of the state tournament.

And, as Paintsville made a last-ditch third-set run, the atmosphere was appropriate for such a moment.

Hailey Little delivered a block for a point. Kylie Kinner scored at the net. Kat Baldwin chipped in an ace. Kinner added another scoring block. Blair Ratliff produced a kill.

The blue-clad crowd roared.

The Tigers were going toe-to-toe with a bona fide blueblood.

“Then you’re thinking, here we go,” Paintsville coach Dawn Kinner said. “We’re a team of runs. When we get on runs like that, and to have our fans behind us, those girls feed off of that energy.

“It was a great moment, and something that I know all these girls will remember when they look back on their volleyball careers.”

The Tigers ultimately couldn’t extend that spurt, which gave them a lead at one point of 15-12 in Set 3, into a full-fledged comeback. Peyton Mast’s lefty spike lifted the Pandas to a 25-21 third-set victory that completed a Notre Dame sweep.

But the Pandas left with a respect for their opponent, and at least one Notre Dame backer got a kick out of the venue, taking a cell-phone photo of Tigers favorite son Kash Daniel’s headshot proudly displayed in the lobby.

If the Pandas, who hail from tony Cincinnati suburb Park Hills, thought their tradition and high achievement warranted a break from the KHSAA from the three-hour-plus drive to the mountains, co-coach Jenna Leistner didn’t say so to a reporter —even if the length of the trip meant fellow co-coach Leslie Litmer, nearing full term on her pregnancy, deemed it best to stay home.

Notre Dame, after all, was winning state championships in volleyball before, in all likelihood, most residents of Paintsville had ever even seen one point in a volleyball match. The Pandas claimed the first KHSAA-sanctioned crown in 1979 and collected five more before the 1980s were out.

The Tigers, meanwhile, started their volleyball program in 1999, said Jason Kinner. Now the coach’s husband, he was a junior at Paintsville at the time.

The Tigers are up-and-coming. They won their first All “A” Classic state championship this season, becoming only the second non-Catholic private school to win that tournament in its 14 years.

So having Notre Dame in town would have been significant enough for Paintsville even if it hadn’t managed to challenge the Pandas in the first and third sets.

Notre Dame recognized that significance in program-building.

“It’s an awesome experience to be here,” Leistner said. “Paintsville is an amazing team. We knew coming into this environment that they were going to be ready to go, and just preparing mentally was part of it as well coming into this town because we knew that they were going to be ready.

“(Paintsville has) a great head coach that has seen great success with her program, so we didn’t expect anything less than a great game of volleyball tonight.”

Monday was about that, about finding the best representative to the state quarterfinals today in Winchester.

But it was also about legitimizing volleyball in eastern Kentucky and finding the momentum to keep growing the game here – not only for the sake of the Tigers who took the floor on this night, but also for the four likely elementary-aged fans wearing blue and black practicing their bumping and passing on the court as the crowd trickled out after the game.

“That was what I was most excited for, was just for them to experience this environment,” Kinner said. “For me, those are the games you remember, win or lose, just playing in that environment. I’m so excited that these girls, especially these seniors, got to experience that.”


Conner Fugate Signs with UK

Conner Fugate Signs with UK

PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) – Another 606 product has joined the Kentucky baseball team.

Paintsville pitcher Connor Fugate signed his letter of intent for UK on Wednesday afternoon. The Tigers ace struck out 68 batters in 10 starts in 2022, finishing with a 3.07 ERA.

“It feels great. I’ve dreamed about this my whole entire life,” Fugate said. “Worked hard for it. Spent several summers working hard. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do and I can’t believe I got the opportunity…I’m looking forward to making an impact and show that homestate kids can do it. Win a national championship, SEC championship and just make an impact.”

The Tigers will look to repeat as 57th District Champions in 2023 before Fugate enrolls at UK.


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