circulation newspaper is better than ansmall local newspaper at addressingnissues of major significance. But from anless rigid perspective the questions revealnsomething else: there are places innAmerica where the end of a hot spellnjust naturally qualifies as “currentnevents.” (By the same token, there arenplaces in America where some eventsnare rather less current than the weather.nWhen asked by The News-nStatesman, ‘”What is Yom Kippur?”none Adair Counhan responded pointblank,n”I never heard of it.” Saidnanother,’ “I think it has something tondo with sweet potatoes.”)nThe county seat of Adair County isnColumbia, home of both The News-nStatesman and my parents, who see tonit that I never miss an issue. The mainnthing to know about Columbia is that itnis a town of small farms and familynbusinesses located in south-centralnKentucky. The first thing to knownabout The News-Statesman is thatnit was for years called th^ DailynStatesman — this despite the fact thatnthe paper had always been published,nat most, four times a week — and is stillnreferred to as simply the Statesmannbecause the new name never quitentook. And the best way to learn somethingnabout both the town and itsnnewspaper is to read the Statesman’sncoverage of the annual Bell PeppernFestival, Columbia’s biggest event ofnthe year.nNever having been in Columbianduring Festival week, I read about thenproceedings the way some people readnabout Mardi Gras in New Orleans —nimagination working overtime, full ofndesire to experience it all firsthand: thentractor judging, the baby show, thencrowning of the Bell Pepper Queen,nthe grand parade, and, as the Statesmannputs it, “the contest with whichnthe Festival wouldn’t be the same without,”nthe Prize Pepper competitionnitself.nAs if that weren’t enough, there isnalso the Ugly Man contest, which isneasily the most philosophically complexnevent of the whole Bell PeppernFestival. Because Ugly Man entrantsnare judged by the absolute standard ofn”pure ugly” and because not only anwinner but a runner-up is chosen, thencontest raises an interesting question. Isnit better to “win” and be celebrated asnthe ugliest man in the county, or ton”lose” and not be celebrated as thenugliest man in the county? On thenother hand, the contest is voluntary, itnraises money for charity, and everyonenseems to have a good time; so maybenphilosophical questions are just for wetnblankets.nDuring the 50 weeks of the yearnwhen it is not reporting on the BellnPepper Festival, the Statesman is prettynmuch like any other newspaper innformat — a blend of “major” stories,nlocal news, editorials, sports coverage,nand women’s features. But a glancenthrough Statesman back issues revealsnthat the mix is always more distinctive,nmore arresting, than anything to benfound in a major metropolitan daily.nFor instance, there is the story about annAdair County fix-it man that ran undernthe curious headline GLEN GOFERnWILL REPAIR ANYTHING THATnRUNS. There is a medical series withneye-catching titles like SENILITY —nMYTH OR MADNESS? and THEnGOLDEN PERIOD OF WHIP­nLASH INJURIES. There is enoughnreporting on the seeding, setting, suckering,ntopping, curing, and stripping ofntobacco to satisfy a community ofntobacco farmers and confound everyonenelse. (Bell peppers or no bellnpeppers, Adair County’s main crop, itsnmoney crop, is hurley tobacco.) Andnthere are articles that seem best leftnunread by non-farming, non-AdairnCountians: ANIMAL WASTEnTOUR TO BE HELD FRIDAY, AU­nGUST 8.nFinally, there are the read-betweenthe-linesnarticles, the ones that revealnmore than they appear to. Like the onenabout a fund-raiser for the churchnfounded by Elbert Hadley. What isninteresting here is not the event beingnnoted but the mere mention of thenchurch, a church that was establishednby Mr. Hadley in direct response to hisnformer denomination’s demand thatnhe either pursue legitimate ministerialnordination or stop his weekend preaching.nIn naming his new church, Mr.nHadley acted with both boldness andnpragmatism. He named it Hadley’snChurch — a move that instantly turnednMr. Hadley into Reverend Hadley andnpretty much settled the entire issue, atnleast as far as Reverend Hadley wasnconcerned.nMoving on to the Statesman’s sportsnsection can be something of a jolt.nnnSports is a large but erratic section ofnthe Statesman and a rather forlorn partnof the paper during football season,nwhen the Adair County Indians seemneternally to be “looking for their firstnwin of the season.” But things pick upnconsiderably with the start of basketball,na sport Adair Countians take verynseriously. Indeed, they take it so seriouslynthat the Statesman’s publisher, innhis regular column “Free Speech,”nrecently concluded that the Americanndefeat by the Soviet Union in Olympicnbasketball was a result of “the erosionnof traditional American values”nbrought on by “liberal courts [taking]nthe Pledge of Allegiance and Lord’snPrayer out of our public school system.”n{Sports Illustrated attributed thenAmericans’ loss to an ineffective offensenand a misconceived defense — ansuspect assessment, since Sports Illustratednobviously looks on basketball asnsome kind oi game.)nThe Statesman’s news and sportsncoverage is always, at the very least,nthought-provoking. But it is invariablynthe Ladies’ Corner, my favorite sectionnof the paper, that I turn to first. Youncan find just about anything in thenLadies’ Corner, and usually you cannfind it all at once. New uses for emptynegg cartons are offered up between thenbiblical plan of salvation and dessertnrecipes that always seem to call fornthree cups of marshmallows. Tips onngrowing healthier roses are followed bynthe information that the glue on anpostage stamp contains one-tenth of ancalorie. It’s in the Ladies Corner thatnyou can find out what to do whenndrawers stick or the lawn mower stallsnin wet grass. It’s here that you can learnnhow to reheat leftover popcorn, removengrease stains from work clothes,nmake bell pepper jelly, and get intonHeaven. Try finding that in The NewnYork Times.nAnd on really special days, you cannfind a Ladies’ Corner bonus — thenPoet’s Corner. The poetry in thenPoet’s Corner is, literally, unforgettable.nIn spite of my best efforts, I quotenfrom memory:nProm Night, Prom Night,neighty-five,nWill everyone come homenalive?nWill many leave once thenprom commencesnMAY 1989/55n