Martha Emmons is a civic and business leader in Paducah, Kentucky.
Six short examples of some of her work in her own words:
"I have been the "constant" in the building of the Paducah Greenway Trail, working for 18 years with four different city administrations to bring the trail to this point, and I continue to be involved.
I was the president of the Market House Theatre Board when the decision had to made whether to allow the buildings along the side of the theatre to be leveled for a parking lot, or to buy several of them for one dollar, but with the stipulation that a million dollars would be needed immediately to stabilize the one on the corner which had already been condemned. Buying the buildings was a huge, scary commitment but it has proven to be right for Paducah. The growth and revitalization the renovations sparked shows no signs of slowing and Paducah is nationally recognized for having one of the most beautiful downtowns in the country.
When funding for the current Paducah Middle School was approved there was a major disagreement in the community as to where the new school would be located. To have it in the same location, more property was required. Homes would have to be bought and removed, most were rental properties in bad shape but a few were well kept by owners who had lived there a long time. The school board owned enough vacant property to build the new, larger school there but that land was located out of the neighborhood, out of sight and the main access was the narrow, highly trafficked Lone Oak Road. In addition to making it nearly impossible to safely walk or bicycle to school, locating the school there would have left a big, old, unattractive, empty building in the heart of mid-town. I researched what happened in other communities when neighborhood schools were taken out of the neighborhood and what the likelihood was that the old building would be renovated to a useful purpose, then took the somewhat unpopular public stance of buying the needed land to keep the school where it was. This turned out to be the right decision. It is an asset to the city, enrollment has increased and families walk and bike regularly to classes and events.
I served for 3 years on Tilghman's School Based Decision Making Council as a parent member when our older daughter, Carson was a student then served another 4 years when our younger daughter, Chandler. enrolled. Each decision the council made was required to be reached by consensus. Working together for common good was required. The practice of making decisions using group consensus is the truest form of democracy. It relies on using the wisdom of an entire community. Understanding how to solve problems using cooperative solutions is an important skill I will use to serve our district and Kentucky.
For 11 years I served as the volunteer speech and debate coach at Paducah Tilghman High School, for 4 years I was paid. ( About $45 a week, every penny which went back to team expenses.)
Under my leadership, the program grew from 6 students to a team of over 60 diverse young people and consistently reigns as one of the top teams in Kentucky, whose students earn scholarships at a range of nationally recognized colleges and universities.
I was a member of the Purchase Area Development District Transportation Committee when the decision was made to build highway 45 (Paducah to Mayfield) with 12 foot shoulders beyond the rumble strips on the edge of the highway. This new road is one of the safer highways in the state. "
Martha owns BikeWorld with her husband Hutch Smith, named for 7 years running a “Best Bike Shop in America.” Martha served for 10 years on Kentucky’s BikeWays and Bicycle Commission working on behalf of a bikeable, walkable commonwealth; was instrumental in development of Paducah’s Greenway Trail and has led and been deeply involved in numerous efforts for youth development, education and the arts.
She coached the Paducah Tilghman High School’s Speech and Debate Team for 11 years, and served on the School Based Decision Making Council for 7 years. She is a former University of Kentucky County Extension Agent for 4-H.
She and her husband are the parents of two young adult daughters, Carson & Chandler Emmons Smith. Martha was raised in Fleming County, KY, the oldest of seven children. She has a BA in Communications and a teaching degree in Speech and Drama from Morehead State University.