Reading, 'riting, newspaperin': A life spent in journalism

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HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. (AP) — He likes having a book in his hands.

"I'm probably biased because my whole life has been about writing and reading and being a newspaperman," observes Rob Dollar of the significance that he attributes to the Hopkinsville-Christian County Public Library.

It is, says Dollar, an important institution and one of the community's gems. There are two of his own books on its shelves in downtown Hopkinsville, and he believes there should be even more books, longer hours and more readers eager for those books.

A featured author during this weekend's Author Festival at the library, Dollar is a Hopkinsville resident and a 1975 graduate of Fort Campbell High School who says he was always telling himself to write a book. He'd start writing and quit after a couple of pages.

But then came a professor during his college days at Eastern Kentucky University.

It was his last year at the university, and the professor taught an elective journalism class he enrolled in.

She encouraged his writing, and Dollar changed course from a career he'd planned in police administration.

He notes that he particularly enjoys writing about history and reminding people about the past and the lessons of the past.

Working first at a bi-weekly newspaper in Cynthiana in northern Kentucky and later at both The Leaf-Chronicle in Clarksville and the local Kentucky New Era, Dollar has added authorship to his resume as a newspaperman and penned three books since 2012.

The first and second, "When Newspapers Mattered" and "Monkeys Don't Wear Silver Suits" were co-authored with Tim Ghianni, a freelance writer whom Dollar met in the early 1980s when Ghianni was his boss at The Leaf-Chronicle newspaper.

Dollar notes that writing a book was on the bucket list for both men when they first started working together 30-plus years ago, and he says he's proud of what they have accomplished, both as partners in writing and as authors on their own.

Together with their first two books, they've each written one book on their own.

Dollar's latest, which he wrote in 2016, is "Father of the Falcons," about Fort Campbell High School's first football coach Marshall Patterson. That book captured the attention of Dollar's alma mater, where it was used as a teaching tool in one of the English classes.

Dollar was scheduled to be on hand to discuss all three books during the Author Festival on Saturday at the library.

Dollar said he thinks it's important for everyone in the community to support the local library. Through the years, he believes it has been an under-appreciated gem in the community and one that he said people need to utilize.

He admits his own partiality, given a lifetime of reading and writing.

"I'd like to think that even if I wasn't a newspaperman, I'd still enjoy reading," he says.

For his fans, Dollar is working on two more solo projects, one a compilation of his best columns written for the New Era and the other, a book focusing on what he describes as a major news story from 10 or more years ago. The latter was the first book he started writing, and at the time that news story had not come to a resolution, he recalled.

It has now reached a conclusion.

"It's a story everyone would remember," Dollar says, not wanting to reveal more details.

He notes that his first book with Ghianni, "When Newspapers Mattered," was well-received, and he got similar news from Fort Campbell, where the English teacher at the high school said students enjoyed reading his book about Marshall.

Dollar notes that he and Ghianni, who also teaches journalism at Lipscomb University, haven't made any money from their books, but he says that's not the primary reason they've written their books, which are self-published.

He says the first time the two published a book, they utitlized the services of Westview, a company that helps authors publish books, while Dollar published his latest "Father of the Falcons."

Dollar's books can be found online at sites like those for Amazon, Books-a-Million and Barnes & Noble, at some Nashville bookstores and locally at places such as Books on Main. In the past, the Pennyroyal Area Museum had copies of his and Ghianni's "Monkeys Don't Wear Silver Suits," a story about Kelly's Little Green Men and the total solar eclipse of last year.

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