Vote for Most Intriguing Kentucky Newsmaker of 2009

Who, or what, captured your interest in 2009? Was it the auditor? The coach? The model? The KACo duo? Mr. Anonymous? It's been an amazing year in Kentucky, filled to the brim with news and newsmakers.

We present the Herald-Leader's nominations for Most Intriguing Kentucky Newsmaker of 2009. Now it's your turn. You can vote for the one you consider most intriguing at We'll compile the votes and let you know who wins. Voting ends at noon on Dec. 15.

We're not looking for the most important newsmaker, or the most popular. As you will see, the winner need not even be a human. Vote for the one you find to be the most interesting and fascinating.

And the nominees are:

Amanda Ross

Ross led a life full of enthusiasm and promise; her death — allegedly at the hands of former fiancé Steve Nunn — may lead to protections for other victims of domestic violence.

Bill Sparkman

Sparkman, a Clay County census worker, tried to pass his suicide off as an anti-government murder.

Billy Gillispie

Gillispie lost his coaching job, but took up night golfing, was arrested for driving under the influence, and settled his contract dispute with the University of Kentucky for a sobering $3 million.

Bob Arnold, David Jenkins

KACo's former executive director, Arnold, and its 2008 president, Spencer County Judge-Executive David Jenkins, denied that they authorized escort service charges on their credit cards. A state auditor's investigation concluded that they probably did.


Buster's died when a downtown block was knocked down for the CentrePointe project, but was resurrected as a cool new night spot in the Old Tarr Distillery west of downtown.

CentrePointe's anonymous investor

We were told that CentrePointe's anonymous investor was pushing up daisies; on the block where Mayor Jim Newberry famously said nothing ever happened, grass grew.

Crit Luallen

If you've been playing fast and loose with public funds, the last words you want to hear are "State Auditor Crit Luallen is on line two."


Dakota, a wolf hybrid dog, made national headlines when she took a 3-day-old infant from a crib and carried him into the woods. She now has relocated to an undisclosed location.

Diane Sawyer

Diane Sawyer, the Glasgow native, came back to Kentucky for a controversial report on Appalachian poverty. In January, she takes the anchor's seat on ABC's World News.

Everett McCorvey

UK Opera Theatre director McCorvey took Lexington talent to Washington's Kennedy Center, was named producer of the opening and closing ceremonies of the World Equestrian Games and became the voice of UK commercials.

Joe Craft

His business is coal; his passion is basketball. But Craft's successful effort to marry the two with a $7 million Wildcat Coal Lodge caused a dustup that drew national attention and ridicule.

John Calipari

Coach Calipari was hired to return Kentucky basketball to its rightful place. The Final Four site is only three hours away this year.

John Wall

Watching Wall in action is an amazing thing, but look quickly if you want to see him in Wildcat blue.

Kevin Skinner

The “working-class guy” won $1 million and a Vegas gig from America's Got Talent.

Laura Kirkpatrick

The beautiful Kirkpatrick finished second in TV's Next Top Model competition, but made Stanford proud.

Lori Houlihan

Her Isle of You boutique closed, but from the Local First Lexington buy local campaign to Thriller to the March Madness Marching Band, Houlihan was everywhere.

Louis Cobb, Wilma Gentry

Louis Gill "Shoeshine" Cobb and Gentry, a mentally ill woman who was by turns angry and endearing, both died in '09, leaving downtown Lexington a less interesting place.

Monica Marks

Growing up in Rush in Boyd County, dreaming of college seemed "so rebellious" to Marks. Now she's a Rhodes Scholar, heading for England's Oxford University.

Rachel Alexandra

Rachel Alexandra proved you don't have to be a colt to be first at the finish line. Girls rule, boys drool.

Randall Cobb

Cobb runs, he catches, he scores. If only we had 11 of him...

Rev. Ronnie Hampton

When asked, he had to pray about it first, but the Rev. Ronnie "Deke" Hampton said yes, and became the first black mayor of Lynch in Harlan County.

Scott Terrell, Kayoko Dan

Terrell and Dan refreshed the face of classical music in Lexington, taking the batons at the Lexington Philharmonic and Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, respectively.

Sharon Cook, Beth Boisvert

Cook, a Jessamine County library employee, removed a graphic novel she deemed pornographic from library shelves. Later, when she "discovered" an underage patron wanted to check out the book, she and Beth Boisvert refused to allow it. Both were fired, setting off a First Amendment debate.

Steve Nunn

Has there been a more spectacular fall from grace than Nunn's? The former state legislator who once aspired to follow his father into the governor's mansion, now lives in a jail cell, charged with killing his former fiancée.