The Center for Rural Development’s Rogers Scholars Program has named its leadership award after well-known Cumberland resident, Al Cornett.
Dr. W. Bruce Ayers, Chairman of The Center’s Board of Directors, said that Mr. Cornett, a 96-year old WWII veteran, was being honored for having built and donated two dulcimers annually for over fifteen years to The Center while occupying the position of master craftsman at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College.
“The dulcimers were given to an outstanding Rogers Scholars graduate every year at the conclusion of each of the two one-week summer leadership programs” Ayers said, adding that although Mr. Cornett retired in 2013, The Center continues to award mountain dulcimers to program honorees. The Al Cornett Award is given to the Rogers Scholar who has the second highest scoring application in each graduating class.
“We are very pleased to be able to recognize Mr. Cornett for his generosity over the years and for his outstanding reputation as a craftsman,” said Lonnie Lawson, President and CEO of The Center for Rural Development, noting that Mr. Cornett has been honored by the Kentucky House of Representatives on two separate occasions for his outstanding work.
In addition to building dulcimers, Mr. Cornett is also known for crafting banjos, guitars, and mandolins. Examples of his work are on display in the Appalachian Center at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College.
“Mr. Cornett was a consummate perfectionist, who always ensured that all of his work was the very best it could be,” Dr. Ayers said.
Vibrant and full of life, Mr. Cornett is a frequent contributor to local newspapers on the subject of economic renewal in the region.