Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: March 28

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Plan to preserve old train depot

We like the idea Danville officials are pursuing to turn the city’s old train depot into a museum and café.

The depot building along Harding Street still sees plenty of Norfolk Southern trains pass by it on a daily basis, but it’s no longer the stopping point it used to be — former Danville Mayor John W.D. Bowling said his understanding is that it’s used for storage.

Now, officials with Danville and the Architectural Heritage Board are hoping to obtain the building from Norfolk Southern and turn it into a tourist attraction. The same kind of project has been undertaken successfully in other cities, and it would be a great addition for Danville.

Officials will have to work out a deal that absolves Norfolk Southern of liability for people who visit the depot, which is right next to active train tracks. That issue is what killed a similar attempt years ago to acquire the depot.

“The question is still going to be the same, and that’s how to address the liability issues that the railroad will wish to have addressed before they grant that property to us,” Danville City Manager Ron Scott said during a recent AHB meeting.

If that problem can be solved, future visitors could come to the depot and watch trains roll by the windows as they browse the museum or sip a hot coffee.

Of course, there would still be another hurdle to clear — funding. But that bridge will have to be crossed when — or if — we get to it. At this point, there’s no downside to at least looking into the imaginative idea.

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Preschool Partnership grant makes a lot of programs possible

Boyle County’s $149,000 Preschool Partnership grant from the Kentucky Department of Education is proving to be extremely beneficial for local kids.

The Boyle County Preschool program and the Wilderness Trace Child Development Center have used the substantial chunk of funding to provide an impressive number of programs and services.

Five hundred kids getting ready for preschool will get animal backpacks with healthy and educational items and toys. Funding has provided supplies for preschool classrooms. The grant paid for a speech therapist to attend a national conference. Book collections have been updated and expanded. Preschool staffing has been expanded; STEM materials have been bought; and scholarships have been provided for kids to attend preschool whose families could not afford it.

“These are things that are pipe dreams — they have become a reality,” Wilderness Trace Director Libby Suttles said in our story on the grant last week.

How well we educate our children determines how well they do in life, which in turn determines how nice our world is to live in when we get older. This funding is making “pipe dreams” come true, but it’s also helping to make a better future.