While there are several Tri-City events that draw people to her hometown, Gothard can't help but to have a soft spot for one in particular.
"Coal Miner Appreciation Day goes deeper," Gothard said. "It's more than a time of fellowship. It's a time of reflection and an opportunity for us to show our gratitude for the many contributions made by coal miners so that we can better enjoy life today."
Coal Miner Appreciation Day, which will be held Saturday in Lynch, was started 10 years ago by a former Tri-City resident who petitioned Kentucky Governor Brereton Jones to set aside a weekend in mid-October to honor the lives and work of the coal miner.
Dorothy Fountain Myles wrote a poem in class about coal miners while attending Southeast Community College. Myles' work inspired her so much that she later contacted Gothard at the museum about holding an annual program.
"Governor Brereton Jones sent a plaque proclaiming mid-October as Coal Miner Appreciation Weekend, and a group of us also began the yearly tradition of hosting a program at Portal 31," Gothard said. "We've done it for 10 years now, and every year it gets more moving and special."
Because of construction currently taking place at Portal 31, this year's Coal Miner Appreciation Day will be held just across the street at Lynch's L & N Train Station. The program will begin at 2 p.m.
Dr. William H. Turner will be the day's special speaker. Turner, a Lynch native, was appointed the University of Kentucky's Vice-President of University Initiatives and Associate Provost of Multicultural Affairs in 2004. He has degrees in sociology and anthropology and has written extensively about issues affecting African-Americans in Appalachia.
Saturday's program will also include a memorial for the miners lost at Cloverlick's Stillhouse Mine 1 in August.
"This will be a touching part of the program," said Lynch Mayor Tom Vicini, who serves on the Coal Miner Appreciation Day committee. "Even though it will be a sad time, it will be very fitting to honor these men and show our gratitude to their families."
During Saturday's program, Vicini and Lynch City Council members will also recognize the town's first 11 "Walk of Legends" honorees. Names of former and current Lynch residents who have made a lasting impact on the city will be displayed along a walking trail extending from Portal 31 to Gap Branch.
"And we plan to add 10 more names every year," Vicini said. "This is our way of saying