Being a good neighbor

Justin Mays - Columnist

I was born here in Appalachia, and come from a long line of hardworking men who have worked in the coal industry and beef cattle farming and hay production. I am proud of my heritage and thankful for my loving parents and grandparents who taught me at an early age the importance of helping others and being a good neighbor.

During my childhood, I remember them teaching me the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. (Matthew 7:12); and it made complete sense to me. Why not treat others the way you want to be treated? My being a good neighbor journey began early, and I am teaching these same principles to my children now.

Through this column, my goal is to share helpful information with my neighbors.

During the winter, we sometimes deal with extreme cold temperatures. It is wise to be prepared. Listed below are tips for preparing your home for cold winter days.


• Clear debris from gutters and test downspouts to protect from water damage.

• Cut back dead or dying limbs and any branches that can touch the roof or siding. When it’s windy, branches can rub or scratch the surfaces of your home and cause damage. They also could fall during a storm or break under heavy snow and ice.

• Eliminate air leaks to improve your home’s comfort and efficiency. Check the basement and the attic. Attic leaks allow warmed air to escape, and have the effect of drawing cold air in through basement leaks. Use a can of spray foam insulation to plug up the offenders in both areas.

• Have your furnace professionally inspected and cleaned to reduce the risk of a breakdown and to keep the system running efficiently. If you have a fireplace, have your chimney professionally cleaned and inspected and ensure that your damper opens, closes and seals tightly.

• Remove all hoses or devices attached to outdoor spigots. Have in-ground sprinkler systems blown out, and turn off water to outdoor spigots. Be sure to drain any water left behind in the pipes.

• Prevent frozen pipes by letting your hot and cold faucets drip overnight during extremely low temperatures. Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks on exterior walls.

The key to having a successful life begins with being a good neighbor, building relationships based on honesty and trust, working hard to make a difference for your family and community and being thankful for all the blessings along the way.

Justin Mays is a local businessman who serves neighbors in Bell and Harlan counties in Kentucky and Claiborne County in Tennessee. He may be reached at [email protected]

Justin Mays


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