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Remembering Judy Barton

Middlesboro and Bell County lost one of their own recently — Judy Barton, the previous director of tourism for Bell County. Barton died Jan. 25.

Barton had a long career in tourism during which she accumulated various awards and recognition — the latest being in 2015 when she won the Distinguished Service Mangeot-Oaken Award from the Kentucky Tourism Industry Association. According to the Kentucky Travel Industry Association website, the Mangeot-Oaken Award is the highest recognition given by the Kentucky tourism industry.

Jon Grace, current director of Bell County Tourism, expressed his sentiments about Barton.

“It’s with a heavy heart that we would like to inform everyone that our past director, Judy Barton, has passed away. Judy led tourism in Bell County and the Cumberland Gap region to new heights. She was a strong leader, a fiery personality, and a woman of conviction. She taught me a great deal about this industry, and her passion for her job was infectious. On behalf of my office and our commission, our thoughts and prayers are with her husband and her children at this time. She will be greatly missed.”