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FCTA Scrapbook

New director leading FCTA forward

Although his job title has changed, Kevin Kelley remains in the “people moving” business.

The former KenTenn EMS Director, Kelley officially took over the Executive Director position at Fulton County Transit Authority Monday, November 21, 2022. The FCTA Board of Directors chose Kelley for the post during a special called meeting on November 3, 2022.

Kelley resigned his position on the FCTA Board of Directors prior to applying for the job.

“Kevin Kelley will be a passionate leader who will bring dedication, integrity, and communication to FCTA,” said FCTA Board of Directors President Mike Gunn. “He was an obvious choice for the Executive Director position as he shares the community’s vision for the future. He remains ready to do the hard work to get us there. Kevin can recognize talent and can be a leader that supports those around him in being successful.”

Gunn has known Kelley personally and professionally for decades, even working together as City of Fulton Fire Department Paramedics.

“In my past 20-plus years working with him, Kevin is not afraid to look outside of the proverbial ‘box’ to get things done,” Gunn said. “He is the kind of leader that directs the organization into the future instead of allowing the future to direct the organization.”

Kelley’s immediate plans are to obtain more personnel to keep up with the increase in ridership FCTA has faced recently.

“I hope to continue to move Fulton Transit forward and continue to provide the communities we serve with their transportation needs in an effective and efficient means as possible,” Kelley added.

A 1987 graduate of Dresden High School (TN), Kelley received his emergency medicine training at Jackson State Community College in Jackson, TN. He earned his EMT Basic in 1995, EMT IV in 1996, and completed coursework to become a Paramedic in 1998.

All of Kelley’s career thus far has been working in emergency services. Kelley served with the Dresden Fire Department, Weakley County Rescue Squad, and City of Fulton Fire Department. He worked for Weakley County EMS from 1996-2003; Henry County Medical Center from 2003-2005, and with Air-Evac Lifeteam 31 in Martin, TN, from 2005-2013.

Kelley recently returned to the Fulton Fire Department after a 10-year hiatus.

In addition to providing hands on care, Kelley has also worked in a leadership role to make sure the Twin Cities area has professional care during emergency situations. Kelley served as Tri-Cities EMS Director from 2013 – 2017. After Parkway Regional Hospital was closed and CHS stopped providing ambulance service to the area, Kelley helped establish KenTenn EMS and served as director there from 2017 until now.

In 2019, Kelley helped develop the KenTenn EMS Academy. The program provides EMT and Advanced EMT classes and will soon host RN to EMT classes. Future plans include providing Paramedic classes in Fulton as well. All of these classes are taught at the KenTenn EMS base. Kelley has served as Program Director for the academy since its inception.

Kelley’s first day as FCTA Executive Director was Monday, November 21.

Gardiner receives top FCTA honor for 2022

Drivers Supervisor Jo Ann Gardiner has been named Fulton County Transit Authority’s Employee of the Year for 2022.

The honor, chosen via individual ballot voting by FCTA employees, is traditionally announced prior to Christmas each year.

From the look on her face when her name was announced, it was obvious that the honor was a complete surprise to Gardiner.

“When you pick up the phone and call Jo Ann, it’s handled,” said FCTA Assistant Director Kristin Grooms who counted the ballots. “She’s dependable; you can always count on her. I believe that is why her coworkers chose Jo Ann this year.”

Gardiner, who started out at FCTA as a Driver, celebrated her fourth anniversary with the agency in October.

Although Gardiner is a team player and quite kind and helpful to her coworkers, she admits the people in the four counties FCTA serves are the real reason she attempts to do her job well on a daily basis.

“The best part is our clients,” Gardiner said. “They make the job worth it. We have some great coworkers here. Another benefit is being home which makes all the difference.

In addition to receiving the title, Gardiner has a framed certificate touting her honor, a newly minted ID badge with Employee of the Year 2022 printed across the top, and a few gifts from her coworkers.

FCTA Ambassador is true regional treasure

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Darryl Sims is FCTA's longest riding client. As FCTA Ambassador, Sims often represents FCTA in various activities. 

Everybody loves Darrell Sims.

In the four-county area Fulton County Transit Authority serves – Fulton, Hickman, Graves, and Carlisle – there possibly aren’t a handful of other people someone could make that blanket statement about. For Darrell Sims, though, it’s true.

“Darrell knows and loves everyone, and everyone knows and loves Darrell,” said Kenney Etherton, former FCTA Executive Director. “He has been a FCTA client for more than 20 years and is the best FCTA driver trainer on the route he rides. If you are having a bad day, Darrell can change that by just saying good morning to you.”

Etherton thinks Darrell has never had a bad day in his life.

“He has an infectious smile and a kind word for everyone,” Etherton said. “He loves UK basketball and most of the time he is wearing something blue to show support for his UK basketball team and blue for FCTA. Darrell loves his God, his churches, UK Basketball, his job, FCTA, and he LOVED his Mother unconditionally.”

Several years ago, some members of the FCTA staff approached Etherton to do something special for Darrell because of the love for and support he’d offered the agency throughout the years. After much thought, those FCTA staff members decided to bestow upon Darrell the title of FCTA Ambassador.

“The word ambassador describes Darrell to a ‘T.’ He is one of our best supporters and advertisers. Darrell is quick to tell anyone and everyone about FCTA and the good things we do,” Etherton said. “I sometimes think if we could take a page from the life of Darrell Sims, it would say, ‘Just be happy and treat everyone with respect.’ We would have a much better world. I could tell Darrell stories all day long. He is one of the most loving and respectful people I know in the world. He’s never met a stranger and will never forget a name.”

Darrell takes his job as FCTA Ambassador very seriously.

“I like everything about being Ambassador,” Darrell said when asked recently. “I like representing FCTA.”

FCTA began its mission as a “people mover” in the mid-1980s. At 25 years, Darrell holds the record for most continual ridership of any client. Currently, Darrell rides in a FCTA vehicle daily from his home in Clinton to his job at Mayfield’s Food Giant. He celebrated his 28th year of employment there in November. Prior to working at Food Giant, Darrell worked at Smith’s for nine years.

“Guess I’ll probably work forever,” Darrell said, laughing. “You never know.”

Darrell was born in Chicago and moved to Clinton when he was 13 years old.

“I had family here,” Darrell said while explaining why they moved to the Hickman County town. “Clinton is a good place to grow up.”

On February 3, Darrell celebrated his 62nd birthday spectacularly.

“My birthday is the same day as Morgan Fairchild’s birthday,” Darrell said, smiling. For those of you who DON’T recognize her name, she’s a longtime actress from soap operas, TV shows, and movies.

Being FCTA Ambassador does have its perks. Darrell and the late Sam Jones, a longtime driver for FCTA, traveled to Frankfort to represent the agency for Transit Day at the Capitol one year. Darrell also represents FCTA at various public events around the four-county area. During the recent holidays, FCTA staff members kept Darrell busy riding in a Transit van on a five Christmas parade schedule including Mayfield, Arlington, Fulton, Clinton, and Hickman. Each September, Darrell represents FCTA in the Twin Cities’ Banana Festival Parade. In October, he can always be seen waving from a FCTA vehicle participating in the Clinton/Hickman County Halloween Parade.

The FCTA Ambassador is so faithful to go to church, he attends two of them weekly.

“I go to First Baptist on Sunday and the Assembly of God on Wednesday,” Darrell said, smiling broadly.

Following a recent Hickman County Spring Chicken Festival, employees who manned an informational booth for FCTA reported back at work that several people told them Darrell has the people at the churches he attends pray for Transit employees every Sunday or Wednesday.

“They said Darrell even calls most of us by name when he prays for FCTA,” one of the employees recalled. “I don’t think we could have a better Ambassador than one who asks God to bless FCTA and those of us who work here.”

When not working or representing FCTA at events, Darrell said he likes to listen to music, keep up with St. Louis Cardinals baseball, or hang out with friends. Many who know Darrell probably don’t know about one of his many skills. He doesn’t just listen to music, but Darrell apparently has memorized who sang every song he has ever heard. Recently, while hanging out with some of his FCTA friends, they began singing a line or two from songs they knew – including obscure ones from the early 1970s. Every line they would sing, Darrell would answer, “Alright, Tammy Wynette!” or “Alright, Aerosmith!” If two people or groups had recorded the song, Darrell was quick to educate those singing the lyrics for him about that fact as well.

Almost daily, Darrell will call the FCTA Dispatch Office on his ride home from work to check in and ask how everyone at Transit is doing. Often Darrell has heard about an illness, a death in a family, or something that has happened to one of the FCTA employees. He never fails to ask about those situations first.
“When he calls in you obviously know who he is because he has that cheery disposition,” said FCTA Dispatch/Scheduling Supervisor Christy Snow. “Darrell asks about everyone, and he always leaves us a good word for the end of the day. Darrell always tells us to tell everyone to have a good day and a good evening and that he is ready for the next day for us to pick him up.”

FCTA Operations Manager Rachel Cook considers Darrell unique and an integral part of the FCTA canvas.

“Darrell Sims is one of a kind,” Cook explained. “His personality is big and his love for life is bigger. He knows how to make anyone’s day. I remember the first day I met him, he gave me a big hug and welcomed me to the FCTA family. Since that day, Darrell has been such a positive staple in my career.”

According to Cook, Darrell can remember anything and everything.

“Darrell never forgets a face or a birthday,” Cook explained. “His birthday call each year is one I look forward to. I am so thankful that I have had the privilege to know and spend time with Darrell.”

Cook is not the only employee impacted by knowing Darrell.

“Darrell means a lot to all of our employees, and we mean a lot to him,” Cook said. “He had a very special relationship with Sam Jones and Charles Cavaness, two FCTA Drivers who have passed away. Every time I get to sit down and chat with Darrell, he reminds me how much he misses them both and how they were his family. We are his family and Darrell is ours. I couldn’t imagine a better person to represent us.”

Group brings food, funds to tornado area


Photos by Marketing Director Kim Jobe

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS - Fulton County Transit Authority provided transportation for delivery of meals recentlly to those affected by the December 10, 2021, tornadoes. United By Barbecue, Southern Boyz Outdoors, Bruce Mitchell and Ronnie Adams from History Channel’s “Swamp People,” Albany, Louisiana’s Fire Chief and Police Chief, and other volunteers from the Hammond, Louisiana, area among those in Fulton preparing the meals January 28-30. Hosted by Fulton’s First United Methodist Church, the group was joined by many Fulton and South Fulton area residents to help cook the meals and fill the plates. The goal of the group was to share love, hope, and food. By Sunday, the entire group of people had prepared and delivered 3,121 meals. On Friday, a FCTA driver delivered lunch to law enforcement and first responders in the Mayfield area while two other drivers delivered meals to Cayce and Clinton. Shortly before noon on Saturday (January 29), several members of the group from Louisiana boarded a FCTA bus after it was filled with 600 meals to take to the Mayfield-Graves County Fairgrounds. Included in the group were Mitchell, Adams, Albany Police Chief Boyd Wild, and Kinion Bankston, owner of Southern Boyz Outdoors. Those travelling to Mayfield spent over an hour visiting with people at the fairgrounds including those affected by the tornado and volunteers who were working at the fairgrounds that day. “Swamp People” and Southern Boyz Outdoors fans took numerous photos with Mitchell, Adams, and Bankston. Then the group travelled around downtown Mayfield to view the damage for themselves that they had seen on TV newscasts and other areas. Walking around downtown, Mitchell, Adams, and Bankston went live on their respective Facebook pages to show their followers the damage there and encourage them to consider aiding residents of the area. The Transit driver made a couple of stops in the downtown area for the passengers to disembark and talk with those in the vicinity. During one stop, the group visited with some individuals who had been providing food and other items to people since a few days after December 10. Prior to reboarding the FCTA bus, the group presented the volunteers with several Walmart gift cards to give to some of those who stop by and seem to need a real monetary blessing. The gift cards were provided by students in the Albany, Louisiana, area who collected money at their schools to send gift cards to Kentucky and Tennessee storm victims. The students collected around $4,000. FCTA employees who helped load and deliver meals throughout the weekend included Executive Director Kenney Etherton; Marketing Director Kim Jobe; and drivers Tonda Casey; Shaun Destratis; Jenny Evans, Armeta Johnson; Kim Rust; and Goldie Taylor. More photos from the event may be viewed on the Photo Albums Page on this website.


BGCAP Driver Rebecca Hafley (left) and RTEC Driver Michael Dixon (above) were among those who kept free relief rides going in the Mayfield/Graves County area.

Commonwealth 'cavalry' helps keep FCTA's tornado relief program going

By Kim Jobe

Fulton County Transit Authority Marketing Director

Just like in the old TV Westerns, Fulton County Transit Authority put out a call for help and the “Transit cavalry” showed up.

On December 17, a week after a tornado tore through portions of Western Kentucky, FCTA Executive Director Kenney Etherton sent out a call to members of the Kentucky Public Transit Association for assistance – in the form of 10 vehicles and 10 drivers - to help with relief efforts in Cayce and Mayfield/Graves County.  

KPTA answered quickly and largely.

Later that day, the FCTA Leadership Team put together a plan of action for the tornado relief transportation utilizing FCTA personnel and the visiting drivers from across the Commonwealth. That weekend, drivers from Paducah Area Transit System (PATS), Murray-Calloway Transit Agency, Audubon Area Community Services, Inc., and Pennyrile Allied Community Services Organization, Inc. arrived in Mayfield to work.

Under the leadership of FCTA Operations Manager Rachel Cook and FCTA Driver Supervisor Frank Glisson, the volunteer drivers transported those displaced residents from local hotels and shelters to seek assistance from state and governmental agencies as well as food and supplies from donation sites around the area on Saturday and Sunday. Some of the drivers transported those assigned to the area Kentucky State Parks, with what belongings they had gathered up, to their temporary shelter. 

Sunday evening, three vehicles and three drivers from Bluegrass Community Action Partnership, Inc. arrived in Fulton to go to work in the Mayfield area Monday morning. Throughout the week before Christmas and the next week, drivers from Federated Transportation Service of the Bluegrass (FTSB), Rural Transit Enterprises Coordinated, Inc. (RTEC), Frankfort Transit System, and Transit Authority of River City (TARC) also arrived ready to do what they do best – moving people from place to place.

Transit Authority of River City (TARC) also brought a Louisville city bus loaded with supplies and employees to the area to help make certain water, baby formula, diapers, and other items were available for those needing them.

When asked, many of the drivers said they really didn’t know what to expect from their assignment.

“I took a guy over to his apartment building near downtown Mayfield,” said Rebecca Hafley, a driver from Bluegrass Community Action Partnership, Inc. in Frankfort. “He had lived on the third floor. The whole upstairs was gone.”

The man, Hafley said, told her that he heard a tornado was headed their way and attempted to get his neighbors to evacuate to the building’s basement with him. One refused, Hafley recalled the man saying, and was found later under a fallen wall where she perished.

“You can see his belongings and his clothes still hanging in the closet there,” Hafley said, pointing to the apartment building and the area where the man had once resided.

Driving through a neighborhood near downtown Mayfield where cleanup had yet to begin, Hafley said the devastation was amazing and weighed somewhat heavily on her emotions.

“I’ve been through downtown way too many times,” the driver added. “It’s very sad.”

Hafley also said seeing the Mayfield/Graves County area in person gives you a better perspective of the power of the storm than seeing it on TV.

“You’re more desensitized sitting at home,” Hafley explained.

Driving a woman from a church in Mayfield to a hotel in Paducah, Hafley said the woman began sharing about her experience during the tornado.

“She said during the storm she fell on her knees and began praying, ‘Lord, Jesus, save me!’,” Hafley recalled. “And he did.”

Hafley also recalled transporting a woman who was at home in a Mayfield housing project prior to the storm.

“She said her apartment is the only thing still upright there,” Hafley said. “She opened the front window and a back window and locked her and her doggie in the bathroom. She believes that saved them.”

The kindness and goodness of humanity made a real mark on the BGCAP driver while in the Mayfield/Graves County area.

“People from everywhere have come to Mayfield and are making a difference,” Hafley said. “I took some people to Mayfield High School. When we pulled up, some volunteers asked one man how many children he had. When he told them two, they gave him two gift cards with $500 each on them – one for each child – and age-appropriate toys for the children as well.”

Given the widespread damage and the amount of people forced from their homes because of the tornado, Hafley thought she would be busier.

“We have transported quite a few people, though,” she added.

Her last day spent volunteering in the area had Hafley driving to and from Mayfield and two of the state parks housing area residents which did keep her from being idle too much.

Hafley admitted the only thing she didn’t know what to expect about the area was what was available and what wasn’t for herself, her husband – who is also a BGCAP driver – and their coworker.

“I was worried about what would be available to eat,” Hafley admitted. “So, we went to the store and got Pop Tarts, honey buns, dry cereal, instant oatmeal, peanut butter and crackers – “snacky” stuff we could eat on if we had to. But we really haven’t needed it.”

Michael Dixon, Operations Manager for Rural Transit Enterprises Coordinated, Inc. (RTEC) in Mount Vernon was another driver who was impacted by his time spent helping those who were displaced by the December 10 storm.

“I had a few thoughts in my head on what the City of Mayfield would look like once we got there,” Dixon said. “It’s safe to say the pictures and media didn’t do it justice on what it looks like in person. I was overwhelmed.”

The destruction of all the buildings and houses are a memory that Dixon said would always be with him.

“One of the ladies I took to the high school to get supplies, she and her daughter were in the candle factory that night. She said she was on top of her daughter covering her up and they were trapped for five hours,” Dixon recalled. “They were unhurt, but their friend was five feet from them, and she passed away. That’s sad.”

A veteran of the United States Navy, Dixon said he has joined in relief work oversees in other countries.

“This was by far the worst destruction I have been a part of,” Dixon said. “Hopefully they will be able to build back this beautiful town soon.”

Other volunteer drivers may not have openly shared their experiences with the tornado relief, but many left visibly changed from their time spent in Mayfield/Graves County. One driver left Mayfield in tears as she was heading towards home. Several others told Glisson, their FCTA guide in the area, that the time spent driving those residents displaced by the storm gave them a more heartwarming and profound definition of the “spirit of giving” during the holiday season.

FCTA drivers were not absent during the early part of the tornado relief in the storm damaged areas. Several spent their workday staged near First Baptist Church in Cayce assisting those in need of transportation or ready to move volunteers from one place to another. Other FCTA drivers spent time between their medical or other calls shuttling displaced residents from sites to receive federal, state, or local assistance to churches and other areas to get supplies or a hot meal. Much of the time the drivers were someone to listen as survivors recalled their personal stories of December 10 and how the storm affected them.

“This really helped put a purpose to why we exist,” FCTA Executive Director Kenney Etherton said. “It’s about helping people and providing for their needs no matter the situation. We are more than taking people to the grocery store or to medical visits. Helping people in disasters is part of our mission as well.”

The agency leader has had a mantra of sorts during his years of service to the community.

“I have said many times when I lay my head on the pillow at night that I know we helped people that day,” Etherton said. “We proudly serve four counties. We are a part of every community we serve. We are there for them no matter what even in the day-to-day transportation.”

Etherton knows FCTA is fortunate that the foresight was there 35 years ago when it was established.

“We are an asset to these four counties,” Etherton added “We are truly going and coming your way, no matter what the way is.”


FCTA Executive Director Kenney Etherton, Operations Manager Rachel Cook, and Driver Supervisor Frank Glisson helped Transit Authority of River City employees deliver donations they gathered in Louisville for area tornado victims. The group delivered about $7,500 worth of supplies via a city bus.


Transit agency delivers supplies via city bus

Area residents who thought they saw a large, gray city bus traveling on I-69 and Purchase Parkway recently weren’t seeing an optical illusion. It was, indeed, a city bus. 

Transit Authority of River City (TARC) sent one of their newer buses to Western Kentucky from Louisville. Signs on the bus stated the vehicle was on a tornado relief mission. Aboard the bus were employees of the agency and a large quantity of supplies including bottled water, diapers, baby formula, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other necessities for residents of Mayfield and Graves County.

“The collection of supplies was greatly appreciated,” said Fulton County Transit Authority Executive Director Kenney Etherton. “This shows that every walk of life in the Commonwealth is coming together where other Kentuckians are in need.”

Driving an FCTA vehicle, Operations Manager Rachel Cook and Marketing Director Kim Jobe led the TARC bus to the Mayfield/Graves County Fairgrounds. FCTA Driver Supervisor Frank Glisson met the group at the fairgrounds to assist with the delivery of the items. The employees of both agencies joined the volunteers at the “infield” to help place the donations on wooden pallets so they could be distributed to the sites within the area for pickup as needed.

This was not the first Transit agency to send assistance to the area damaged by the December 10 tornadoes.

“We’ve had agencies supply us with drivers and vehicles,” Etherton explained. “We’ve provided over 300 rides to displaced residents in Fulton and Graves counties from the volunteer drivers over the past two weeks. Without the help of our partner agencies, we would not have been able to perform the services needed at this time.”

The FCTA leader is extremely grateful to those who have helped.

“Thanks is a small word for the assistance we have received,” Etherton said. “When the tornado hit the Mayfield/Graves County area on December 10, we lost 11 vehicles from our fleet at our office on North Ninth Street. That’s why our partners’ help was so greatly valued. The overall support has been almost emotionally overwhelming at times and proves there is still a lot of goodness in mankind with neighbors helping neighbors.”


TOP EMPLOYEE - Kenny Patterson has been named Fulton County Transit Authority Employee of the Year for 2021. The annual honor is chosen by secret ballot voting by FCTA employees. Patterson, a resident of Clinton, has been FCTA Mechanic for five years. “Kenny is a valued member of our maintenance team,” said FCTA Executive Director Kenney Etherton. Pictured (left to right) are Patterson and Etherton.

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