On the rare times I am forced to hand over my hard-earned dollar and read from such a pitiful excuse for local journalism as the Meade County Messenger has become, I am forced to consider something the inimitable HL Mencken once said: “For every complex problem there is an answer which is clear, simple, and wrong.” Mencken must have visited Brandenburg.
I was pushed into my purchase by various complaints arising from a screed written by Chad Hobbs and published a couple weeks ago with the catchy AC/DC song “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” in the headline. And that’s about the end of the truth you’ll find, therein. Each salient point made by Hobbs was either incorrect or a lie. This is a distinction normally reserved for the low-class muckraking of the anonymous Conrad Doyle. Clearly, the Messenger is seeking to achieve all-new lows.
The bothersome thing about this is simple: A couple of phone calls could have prevented this latest lapse of reason – that is, if the Messenger was openminded enough to seek facts and truth in a logical fashion, rather than dedicating an entire page to one-sided slander. And we must be clear about this: There were no “dirty deeds” – done cheaply or otherwise – with regard to our late Judge Executive Gerry Lynn, Attorney Alec Stone, or Industrial Authority Chairman and former Mayor David Pace.
The Messenger’s dirty deeds narrative depends upon a series of easily explainable events occurring on 28 March 2019 – as recorded in the county’s deed book. Everything else is wink and nod innuendo. And that narrative melts pretty quickly as soon as the lights are switched on. Yes – the Industrial Authority formally signed an agreement to sell the riverport and surrounding property – requiring David Pace’s signature. Yes, Harry Lusk formally signed to sell his 50 acres inside the site to Nucor. Governor Bevin had visited Brandenburg the day prior to announce this unprecedented expansion and investment in Brandenburg. But it would seem Mr. Hobbs became confused about these 19 acres – the 19 acres eventually purchased by Eddy Kane Steel Products last month – along with the bowling alley. Stone had contracted to purchase those 19 acres from Linda Principe in October 2018 for $5000 per acre, transferring the deed in February 2019. With such easy access to the deed book, how could Hobbs make such a basic mistake? Was his eyesight affected by his bias? Dirty deeds, indeed…
Having contracted to purchase the property in October 2018, at the price set by the seller, Stone sought out partnerships with two prominent local developers (Carl Austin and Doug Cornett) and each declined to partner with him on this property at this price. Of course, there are many reasons an investor may or may not pursue a particular project; however, if a project is a “no-brainer,” smart investors tend to participate, right? The fact is Alec Stone had obtained some property at what most would agree to be a fair price (in October 2018) and he was having trouble obtaining a partner to develop the property. People who are authorities on such a matter had turned him down. A reasonable person would have asked, “did he pay too much?” That is when he approached Judge Executive Gerry Lynn – who owned the adjacent bowling alley - sometime in early March. Now – we must be clear about the timeline of this transaction. Stone proposed an LLC partnership to develop the 19 acres and Lynn asked for some time to consult with his wife, Nancye. After a week or so, the agreement was struck and actually signed on 19 March 2019. The LLC was formally filed at the courthouse – as noted by the bumbling Mr. Hobbs – on 28 March when the property was actually recorded as sold by Stone to the AGLS LLC. Yes, Mr. Hobbs, the LLC was formed for the sole purpose of owning and managing the property.
The Messenger is desperately trying to convince you there was something nefarious going on. They’re simply wrong. Their steady stream of smears, rumors, and innuendo over the last couple of years has been unseemly and embarrassing. And this is more of the same. Alec Stone didn’t cheat Mrs. Principe. I don’t say that to defend Mr. Stone; he doesn’t need me to do that for him. He’s one of the most prominent and successful attorneys in this area and has been so for many years. He didn’t achieve that by cheating his clients. Gerry Lynn didn’t use any insider knowledge to cheat Mr. Stone – especially since Stone proposed the deal to Lynn! Of course, since Lynn actually decided to purchase a 50% interest in that property prior to 19 March, it’s clear he did not even have inside information about Nucor’s decision and certainly wasn’t able to use it for his own benefit. By March of 2019, Judge Lynn knew Nucor was considering Brandenburg as a site among several other sites, each having more acreage and Nucor had clearly stated they were looking for more acreage than we had to offer. He obviously didn’t use that as a basis for partnering with Stone on this property. He told me – then – he partnered on that property because it was next to his bowling alley and he thought it was a “good deal,” especially since Stone had arranged to have the property logged and would split the proceeds with him. Later, Gerry’s cancer resurfaced and plans to develop those custom homes were put off. In the end, the 19 acres did prove to be decisive in their (Nancye’s) efforts to get rid of the bowling alley, which had been for sale, on and off, for more than 15 years.
So, Governor Bevin came to town and announced the Nucor deal on 27 March 2019 and a lot of paperwork was filed the following day. The Messenger needs you to believe this is more than a simple coincidence – that nefarious “good ole boy” forces were at work behind the scenes to steal something from someone. Reasonable people can disagree about many things – but, there shouldn’t be any confusion about Gerry Lynn. He served the people of this county, not himself. Period. When it comes to legally obtaining property at extreme bargain pricing in Meade County, Mr. Hobbs could ask his publisher about that, since she excels at that particular activity. In fact, if buying real estate below someone’s idea of “market value” is illegal, we’d need to put Ms. Singleton under the jail, not in it!
By now you should be asking what any of this has to do with David Pace, since he had precisely nothing to do with any of this. After Judge Lynn’s untimely death in August 2020, Nancye Lynn contacted Mr. Pace (in his role as promoting economic development in the county) and asked him to include the bowling alley with its adjoining 19 acres in any portfolio of properties available to any new or expanding businesses. This past May (2021) that offer finally came from Eddie Kane Steel Products, who chose this site from among several offered. They chose this site over sites in Hardin County and others locally because it had everything they were looking for and it was simply cheaper than all the others. Call and ask them. The first contact Eddie Kane Steel Products had with Meade County occurred in December, 2020 – four months after Lynn’s death. And finally, it is my understanding they do not plan to “level” the bowling alley; they actually plan to run the only bowling alley in the county, presumably for fun and profit. Just another wrongly reported tidbit rooted in this newspaper’s refusal to use a telephone.
Yes, it’s true – Judge Executive Gerry Lynn was not only a professional associate of mine; he was a personal friend. But the efforts by this newspaper to besmirch his good name, character, and reputation – even a year after his unfortunate death, while desperately trying to throw shade upon the deal which brought Nucor’s investment into this county are unseemly, even pitiable. The Messenger owes an apology to each person mentioned by name in that horrible editorial. How does this county explain this behavior to people in Charlotte (Nucor’s HQ) or Indianapolis (Monument’s HQ) or Frankfort? Please stop embarrassing this community and do your job! Why is it too much to ask that prior to publishing your slander you should make a few calls and ask some questions? Pretty please?
Citizen Joe aka Joseph Redmon
Vice-Chairman, Meade County Republican Party