Oldham County Day
contribute to community
in many ways besides business
couple will serve as
grand marshal of this years parade
Helen E. McKinney
LA GRANGE, Ky. (July 2007) When Karen and
Kevin Eldridge consider this years Oldham County Day theme, Planning
for a Better Tomorrow, they really take it to heart. Extremely
involved in community activities, this couple exemplifies what it means
to give 100 percent back to the community.
I could not imagine not giving back, said
Kevin, 47. Its just natural.
Karen, 44, agreed. So many people have challenged us to step up
to the plate and become involved in whats going on in the
county. Since we werent blessed with children, weve
put our energy into the place we love.
The couple has been selected as the grand marshals of this years
Oldham County Day Parade on July 21. A Grand Marshal Luncheon to be
held in their honor is scheduled for noon Tuesday, July 17, at the John
W. Black Community Center in Buckner.
Most residents have become familiar with Karen through her business,
Karens Book Barn. The bookstore has been a staple on Main Street
in La Grange for the last 20 years. Karen took over the business in
1998 when owner Shelly Ryan decided to downsize her five stores and
move out of state.
The Eldridges, both natives of Oldham County, had been customers of
the store, and Karen said she had always loved reading.
The couple had just recently married, and Karen was working on a college
degree through night school while holding a job at a local bank at the
From her focal point on Main Street, Karen became highly vocal and active
in the Main Street Program for La Grange. This program was instituted
by the La Grange Business Association, which became known as Discover
Downtown La Grange, of which she is still a vital member today.
Through the operation of her book store, Karen is like a poster
child of how to run a business in downtown La Grange, said Jennifer
Watson, director of Discover Downtown La Grange. Every customer
that walks through the door is made to feel welcome. She constantly
seeks to improve her services and the operation of her business.
County Day Schedule
9 a.m.-10 a.m.: La Grange Assembly of God
11 a.m.-Noon: Crestwood Baptist Praise Band
Noon-1 p.m.: Rockin Country
2:15 p.m.-3 p.m.: Kentucky Gold Cloggers
3:15 p.m.-4:15 p.m.: RevelationEast
9 a.m.-9:30 a.m.: Children of Victory
11 a.m.-Noon: Beulah Land Baptist Church
12:30 p.m.-1:15 p.m.: Broadfield Marchers
2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.: The Moon Dogs
4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.: Bands from the Louisville School
of Rock & the Oldham County Arts Center
11:30 a.m.-Noon: Kentucky Tae Kwon Do
1:15 p.m.-2:15 p.m.: Oldham County Community Band
Watson said Karen is a devoted professional, embracing
every customer who walks through the door and is often very generous
with her time. When a customer once asked when the next train would
come through town, Karen has gone so far as to actually walk outside
with them and explain the trains lighting system and what it signifies,
Karen is always thinking in terms of connecting people and opportunities,
Watson continued. She takes it all in and places it in a larger view
of how it relates to the community.
At the same time that his wife was embarking upon her new business,
Kevin had taken over his fathers business, Eldridges Service
A familiar site to locals in the community at the corner Fifth and Jefferson
streets since 1964, the gas station was one of several the family operated.
by Helen McKinney
will be honored at a
luncheon on July 17.
Kevins father, Milburn, founded the business and
eventually sold the La Grange location to his son. Kevin remembers bicycling
to work from his home, which once stood where Papa Johns Pizza
is now located on Hwy. 53. The family owned five acres and was surrounded
by farmland while Kevin was growing up.
At the time, there was no interstate, one red light, three elementary
schools, one junior and one high school, said Kevin. There
has been unbelievable growth in the county. There is no doubt
the community has changed and the majority of what has happened
has happened in our lifetime.
While Karen said they want the county to grow, she would still like
to see it maintain a warmth and friendliness. She sees the
county becoming closer knit, while Kevin said it is enhancing
things it already has.
From his 10 years of service as chairman of the Oldham County Planning
and Zoning Commission, Kevin has seen change within the county firsthand.
Appointed to the commission by former Oldham County Judge-Executive
John Black, Kevin recently stepped down from this position to become
more involved in taking care of his parents.
Before current Oldham County Judge-Executive Duane Murner would accept
Kevins resignation, he said, I need you to do one more job
for me, said Murner. Murner was reluctant to let Kevin go because
of his outstanding work as chairman of the commission.
The job Murner wanted Kevin for was a position on the six-month Vision
council that ends in July.
The Eldridges are two of Oldham Countys most involved citizens,
said Murner. He has known the couple for the last 15 years. He has become
acquainted with Karen through the CSX Railroad repair project, and Kevin
through the Oldham County Historical Society and his appointment as
chairman of the Growth Management TASK Force when Murner was a county
While Karens activities have focused more on La Grange, Kevins
have been countywide, said Murner. In everything they touch, they have
the future of the county as one of their main goals, he said.
of the 2007 Oldham County Day booths and locations.
The Eldridges are very involved with the Oldham County
Historical Society and Oldham County History Center events. Kevin has
served on the Board of Directors for the society for the last eight
years and is the current treasurer.
Karen is the chairperson for the annual gala event and is instrumental
in holding weekly meetings with committee members to see the overall
success of this annual fundraising event, which is instrumental to our
annual operation, said Nancy Theiss, executive director of the
The Eldridges volunteer to run the silent and live auctions for the
gala, checking receipts and tagging an endless number of items. Both
add prestige and community trust to our organization since they have
participated in numerous volunteer activities throughout our county,
Its hard to estimate how much time the couple devotes to the History
Center. They believe community history enriches our lives and
helps endear new visitors as well as new residents to the aspects of
community preservation that make our county so special, Theiss
Kevin said of their work with the History Center and other community
projects, Its a good chance to interact with so many good
people working in Oldham County.
The couple has a long list of accolades to their credit. Karen was a
founding member of the H.O.S.T. House, on the board of the Oldham County
Chamber of Commerce and Baptist Northeast Hospital, and participated
in the Oldham County Leadership program. Kevin has also served as chairman
of the YMCA, president of the Rotary Club and named Oldham Countian
of the Year in 2001 by the chamber.
They attend Sligo Baptist Church, where Kevin is a third-generation
deacon. He is treasurer for the Oldham Trimble Baptist Association.
In their spare time, the couple enjoys scuba diving, and Kevin puts
his mechanical skills to work restoring cars and motorcycles. Kevins
favorite restoration was a red 1969 Norton Cafe Racer motorcycle. They
have done quite a bit of traveling, having journeyed to Mexico and Key
Luncheon tickets can be purchased for $10 per
person by calling Nancy Crass at (502) 222-9021.
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