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2 updates and a cheap set of wheels

Today I have updates on two previous columns, plus a tip on how you can help a new neighbor while scoring a cheap set of wheels.

You might remember the story of Gordon Burnette of Lexington, a tool-and-die maker and amateur art sleuth.

After a neighbor died and her house was sold, Burnette noticed several old, beat-up paintings on the curb. One showing a mare and foal caught his eye. Written on the back was the mare's name, the artist's name and June 1882.

Impressed by the painting's quality, Burnette had it restored. Then he began a quest to learn more about the mysterious Thomas J. Scott, one of the top equine artists of the 19th century. Burnette also created a Web site, www.thomasjscott.com, in hopes of identifying other Scott paintings, many of which have been lost over time.

Since the column appeared in May, the Headley-Whitney Museum has agreed to host an exhibit next year of paintings by Scott and his more-famous teacher, Edward Troye. And Burnette has heard from several people with Scott paintings who had no idea what they had.

A Louisville woman bought one at an auction, where it was propping open the door.

The strangest call came from a Lexington woman with a painting almost identical to Burnette's, only smaller.

"She was so thrilled because she had had this painting all these years and didn't know who the horses were, who the artist was or where it came from," Burnette said. He thinks it was the study for his painting or a copy made for a subsequent owner of the horse.

Where had the painting been hanging all these years? About three blocks away.

Money for Tanzania

Like Burnette, Flaget Nally had no intention of embarking on a quest. But that's what happened as she was ending a three-year stint as a Catholic lay missionary in Tanzania.

A group of nuns asked Nally to raise money for them to build an English-language boarding school for as many as 800 girls of all faiths in a part of Tanzania where girls rarely have a chance to be educated. The Bardstown native had no idea how to do that — or even if she could.

Nally formed Giant Steps for African Girls (www.educateafricangirls.org), which held a fund-raising walk in Lexington last April and other events around Kentucky. So far, it has raised more than $104,000. About $50,000 of that has come from the Lexington area.

A cheap set of wheels

While writing about Bike Lexington in May, I mentioned Shifting Gears, a partnership between Pedal Power bicycle shop and Kentucky Refugee Ministries, a multi-denomination Christian group that works with the U.S. State Department to resettle legal refugees.

Shifting Gears takes good-quality bikes, which are either donated or taken in trade by Pedal Power, and fixes them up to give to refugees, many of whom have no other transportation. Shop employees and volunteers fix bikes; others are sold to raise money for parts.

The goal is 52 bikes a year. "We've been able to beat that every year," said Brad Flowers, a partner in Bullhorn Marketing who started Shifting Gears in 2003 while working at Pedal Power.

Last year, more than 80 bikes were given away. In addition to adult bikes for refugees, children's bikes are given to The Nest, a non-profit social service agency off North Limestone.

Pedal Power owner Billy Yates said community response has been so strong that he has far more donated bikes than Shifting Gears can fix. They've filled his shop's attic, and some have to go.

Beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, Yates will be selling about 200 of the bikes for between $25 and $75 in the parking lot of his shop at West Maxwell and South Upper streets. There also will be bike parts for as little as $1 each. All proceeds go to Shifting Gears and Kentucky Refugee Ministries.

"This sale will raise money to allow us to continue fixing up some bikes and give us some space to get more organized and efficient," Yates said.

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