Thursday, March 6, 1997
Circus, karaoke performers
boost spirits

Red Cross volunteers in Falmouth spread the news Wednesday night that the circus was coming to town.

Well, at least some of it.

Now that the Cincinnati shows of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus have been canceled because of rising waters around Riverfront Coliseum, some performers have promised to visit the shelter at the Pendleton County High School today to boost spirits.

When Larry Gilliam heard about the devastation from the Falmouth flood, he knew he had a contribution to make: karaoke.

Mr. Gilliam, of Walton, is a karaoke disc jockey at the Front Porch in Florence on Saturday nights. He rounded up a few of his regular singers and some sound equipment and brought karaoke to the Pendleton County High School shelter Wednesday night.

For one number, he, a Red Cross volunteer and a half dozen kids did the Macarena. For another, Gary Roberts, a carpenter from Independence, did a dead-on Willie Nelson imitation, singing ''You Were Always On My Mind.''

''We just thought it might cheer them up,'' Mr. Roberts said.

Phone service is slowly being restored to customers in Falmouth, and those with open lines are offering their phones to others.

Dan and Judy Woodhead, owners of the Woodhead Funeral Home, said they will help residents in any way they can. Their phone number is 654-3306.

''We're taking calls and getting messages out for people,'' said Mary Hillenmeyer, the Woodheads' daughter.

Electricity is also coming back to town, enabling the Pendleton Savings Bank to reopen in a new location today.

Customers can do their banking and inquire about loans at the bank's new location on Ky. 330.

Among the many volunteers who descended on Falmouth to help with the relief effort were members of the Southgate Fire Department.

Chief Marc Muench said eight members of the department ''came down to see how we could help.''

Two of the youngest volunteers were Brandon Godman, 9, of Pendleton County, and Keenan Mason, 7, of Williamstown. The two were helping flood victims take groceries to their cars.

''I just wanted to help some of the people hurt by the flood,'' said Brandon.

Falmouth resident Ed Lanaker's house has been covered with water the last few days, but the 36-year-old concrete worker had reason to smile Wednesday afternoon.

For the first time since the Licking River overflowed its banks Sunday, Mr. Lanaker was reunited with his daughters, Brittany, 8, and Megan, 4.

The girls were staying with relatives north of Falmouth when the flood hit, while Mr. Lanaker was south of town.

''I haven't been able to get through town to get them or even see them,'' Mr. Lanaker said in between bites of a donut in the cafeteria at Pendleton County High School.

''I'm sure we've lost a lot in the flood, but I'm back with my girls - so I'm happy.''

While some Kentuckians watched as the waters rose, others in the commonwealth were watching for what the heavy rains were bringing down.

A mudslide in eastern Pike County trapped about 13 families on Bad Fork of Rockhouse near Elkhorn City, and several people narrowly escaped injury as the hillside slipped again Wednesday. Another slide knocked out a 12-inch water main in neighboring Floyd County, cutting water service to about 280 homes between Allen and Martin.

A third break took out one lane of Kentucky 40, about two miles east of Paintsville in Johnson County.

Gov. Paul Patton and first lady Judi Patton talked to a lot of flood victims during their Wednesday afternoon visit to Falmouth.

But none may have been in better spirits than 100-year-old Jewel Beckett. High water forced Ms. Beckett from her home near Butler and into the temporary shelter at Pendleton County High School. But it didn't dampen her mood.

Ms. Beckett, who lives alone, told Mrs. Patton how she planted potatoes in her garden until she was 89. And she asked Mr. Patton why he would want a job like governor.

''I like to help people,'' the governor told Ms. Beckett, who talked with Mrs. Patton for several minutes.

''Her spirits and her mind are sharp,'' said friend Lisa Simon, who was helping look after Ms. Beckett. ''We never would have gotten her out of her house, except her caregivers couldn't get in to look in on her because of flooding so she had to come here.''