By Chad Hobbs
Truth is a funny thing. Sometimes it’s so obvious, it almost slaps you in the face. Other times, it's so elusive, it’s almost like trying to lasso the wind. Then, other times, it’s like a shoreline, constantly shifting with the tides. The latter is where I found myself after writing my editorial two weeks ago about the granary.
That was made quite clear when I set down with Magistrate Billy Sipes the night after that paper made its way to mailboxes across the county. My article had hit like a lead balloon, and Sipes took no time letting his displeasure with it be known. Hurt feelings is something I have become no stranger to as a reporter. It is just an ugly reality sometimes when you start revealing the truth, but with that comes a great responsibility to not have blinders on. Bad people do bad things, good people make bad decisions, and some people just appear guilty by association, whether that is fair or not. The hard part can be differentiating between the three.
Being a county magistrate seems a whole lot like my days spent as a unit coordinator at a nursing home. When you are just a citizen or a nurse, you have big ideas about how you would do things differently if you were part of the decision-making team. Then, you finally get promoted to that office, whether it was literally in my case or figuratively in a magistrate’s case, and you start realizing the grass was not as green as you hoped. Those above you want you to quiet those below you. Those below you want you to wield more power than you have, to sway those above you. In the end, it becomes difficult to make anyone happy, as a result. Such is the difficult balancing act of such positions.
One of the greatest points of contention was that Sipes felt I had called him a liar in my recent editorial and was not happy about it. That had not been my intention. The article was intended to point out numerous falsehoods presented by our State Representative Nancy Tate in a recent social media disinformation campaign she had participated in, passing off lies about both this paper and the Lincoln Trail Grain Growers. In offering a defense against her bogus claims about both groups, I brought up a meeting that Sipes and David Pace were both at, but their mention was not intended to implicate either as a liar. Despite that, I owned it and apologized for my failure to make that clear.
The beauty of honest, open communication is that when initiated, it often cures most issues. Sometimes, it can be painful at first, but in the end, it usually pays off. This was the case that evening. I understood how hard Sipes was working to fix this mess. He understood how difficult it is to tell both sides of the story when those above him, such as our state representative, refuse to ever comment or share information on even the simplest of questions, but they instead try to smear and discredit a local, small business into nonexistence for just trying to do its job. By the end of the night, I think we had made more progress and had a better understanding of each other than ever before.
It also opened the door for some good, possibly great news. It has been a rollercoaster of a ride for the farmers and the Fiscal Court for almost a year now. For weeks though, Magistrate Sipes, Industrial Development Authority Chairman David Pace and the farmers have been working together to bring a new granary to Meade County. Hard feelings have been set aside, and they have all banded together in hope of rebuilding what was lost.
A grain company has actually visited the county to look at sites. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has been a part of some of these discussions. Things are looking up and that is a beautiful thing. There is still a long road to replacement, but Sipes, Pace and the farmers should all be applauded for putting the past behind them and working towards the greater good.
If and when the return of a grain facility to Meade County will happen is impossible to tell at this time, but hopefully the foundation for that has been laid by the unification of these once opposed leaders working together. My hat is off to them all for standing tall, and I look forward to the possibility of someday being able to proclaim the fruits of their labors on the front page of this very paper.
And now you know the rest of the story.