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COLUMN: Facts, not over-reaction, shed light on incident

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Judge-executive offers context for strange CD

By BEN CARLSON

Column as I see ’em ...

I’ll start off this week giving props to magistrate and judge-executive candidate John Wayne Conway for largely backing off on his initial reaction to one of his opponents admitting that a county worker sprayed weed killer after his certification to do so had expired.

On the surface the incident could have been remarkably serious. Chemicals being sprayed by those who have no idea what they are doing is never a good thing. But keep in mind, the worker who sprayed them was previously certified and had used this chemical for years.

Conway’s initial reaction to my questions for a story on today’s front page was remarkably strong. He had some serious concerns about the issue and, as is his style, pulled no punches in telling me what he thought.

We each dug a little deeper into the issue, though, and it turns out the chemical that was sprayed was remarkably mild and the incident wasn’t nearly as terrible as it appeared on the surface.

As also is his style, Conway retracted some of his previous statements and accepted the situation for what it actually is, not what it could have been. This, after being pounded weekly in videos Chambers has posted on his campaign website.

I certainly wasn’t without fault in the entire incident. Last week I reported that highway foreman Chip Chambers said he had employees taking classes at UK to become certified. I did so with confidence, but a subsequent review of an admittedly poor audio recording of the meeting revealed otherwise.

That mistake led Conway to assume that what I reported was accurate, and he went on to question Chambers’ veracity.

After hearing the tape, I contacted Conway, told him what was actually said, and he pulled back.

I respect anyone willing to say their piece on the record, and respect them even more when they are equally as willing to pull it back.

So what about Chambers? He knows he screwed up on this, and has fallen on the sword no fewer than a half-dozen times to take the blame.

He never hesitated to take the blame in fiscal court, with the state inspector who cited the county or during an interview.

As for the third candidate in this race, Donna Drury, she deserves whatever benefit of the doubt is required that her motive in alerting the state agriculture office to this issue was as a concerned citizen.

She had volumes more to say about the incident, including deep concerns about animals, people and overall environmental harm that can result from improper chemical spraying. I didn’t include most of those comments, nor similar ones made by Conway, in the article because, frankly, they ended up not being particularly germane to what actually occurred.

I could have, but doing so would have made them both look over-reactive once all facts were revealed, and that serves neither them nor you, the reader, in any demonstrable fashion.

Are there going to be more dust-ups between this trio between now and November? On that you can rely, my friends.

Is that a bad thing? Not really, especially if they are jousting about the issues and doing so with the county’s best interests — not their own — at heart.

Speaking of dust-ups, I certainly caused one with last week’s column about the CD I received from the judge-executive containing a song about a guy and his dog angling to kill some chickens.

I’m not going to reheat that entire skillet of hash, but after the paper came out the judge e-mailed me and wasn’t too happy.

Guess I don’t blame him for that.

Although the CD and note he sent didn’t say so, the judge told me he was just ribbing me about an incident involving one of my family pets and some pets owned by folks in another neighborhood.

Because the incident wasn’t recent, it didn’t register with me right away. Nevertheless, I figured he was giving me his version of the business, so I responded in kind with a column.

No, it’s none of your business what the incident involved, and I’m not going to say. What happens in Carlson Land generally stays in Carlson Land.

Besides, any of you enterprising types who really, really want to know can certainly find out, just don’t expect me to tell you how.

E-mail Ben Carlson at bcarlson@theandersonnews.com.