Grand Ole Opry Star Jean Shepard Entered Hospice

UPDATE–Jean Shepard died Sunday September 25.  (Click link for story)

Country music legend Jean Shepard, 82, who can be truly called a female trailblazer, and is the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry, has entered hospice care after being admitted to the ICU earlier this week.   Just last weekend when I was at a country music show in Coloma with relatives on my Mom’s side we talked about Shepard and wondered how she was doing.  The news is not good.

Her son Hawkshaw Hawkins Jr. made the news known about the downturn to her fans.

“Thank you everyone for your love and support during this tough time,” says Hawkins Jr. “Sadly, mom has went into the care of Hospice and is resting comfortably. Thank you to all of her fans who love her and are praying for our family. We love you.”

This Grand Lady has been an Opry member for now over six decades, and celebrated her 60th Anniversary on the stage show November 21st, 2015. Previously one of the institutions most active members, her performance schedule had significantly slowed down recently due to health issues.

Jean Shepard signed to Capitol Records in 1952. Her first hit was the duet “A Dear John Letter” with Ferlin Husky. Later she had hits of her own with “A Satisfied Mind,” “Take Possession,” and “Beautiful Lies.” Not just a trailblazer for women in country music, she also had to fight the uphill battle as a honky tonk singer during the genteel  era of country music.  Later she became a mainstay of the Grand Ole Opry and married fellow Opry performer Hawkshaw Hawkins who died in the same plane crash as Patsy Cline in 1963.

Below is a photo following a show this amazing woman performed in McFarland in the late 1990’s with one of her biggest fans….that would be me.  She also signed my guitar.



We Need To Get Tougher On The Carmine Ciarletta’s Of Wisconsin

Too often drinking is considered a ‘past time’ in the same way that others might go to a movie or take a long walk.  Everywhere we turn in our society there are ads for beer or other intoxicants, and there is hardly a gathering where an alcoholic beverage is not offered.   It is not uncommon to hear of people saying they have a hangover several times a week.    How can that in any be healthy?

The facts present themselves everyday as to why we need a mature and reasoned discussion about alcohol and the impact it has on society.  There can only be so many front-page new stories.  The conversations need to continue around dinner tables, community forums, and political debates.

And when it comes to Wisconsin we need to get tough on first time drunk drivers. Over and over it has been reported not only in this state, but also in tones of disbelief around the nation that Wisconsin slaps only a citation on the first act of getting caught while operating a vehicle while drunk. One does not need to have a degree from a fancy college, or be immersed in data and statistics to know full well that leniency when it comes to drunk driving is simply a recipe for disaster.

Take the 3rd drinking while driving from Carmine Ciarletta which made the news today.

Ciarletta was charged with Operating While Intoxicated after he led Dane County Sheriff’s Deputies on a 4.1 mile chase.  Are we not all glad to not have been on that stretch of road at that time.

Ciarletta, 48, was pulled over for a traffic stop on White Crossing Road in the town of Springdale near Highway PD around 9:45 P.M. following another driver called police after seeing Ciarletta’s car “all over the road and varying speeds.”

When stopped Ciarletta appeared to be drinking and had an open bottle of wine in his car.  Then things got even more dangerous.

Shortly after the start of the traffic stop Ciarletta put the car in gear, turned around and drove onto Highway PD toward Highway 151.  That was simply outrageous.  Where in hell did he think he was going to flee to that would not bring the full force of the law down upon him?

Deputies pursued the vehicle for 4.1 miles with a top speed of 62 mph before deputies stopped the vehicle by boxing it in with a low-speed maneuver.

There are stories of this kind daily in the news and frankly as a resident of this state I am tired of it.  I want some serious remedies applied this reckless behavior.  And the place to start is to make sure that the first time a person is caught drinking and driving a penalty is applied that makes it sting hard enough to not want it to happen again.

Clearly that did not happen to Carmine Ciarletta.