Friday, August 12, 2011
Big assignment tomorrow in the land of the Hatfields, McCoys and, some allege, religious cultists
As a journalist, it would be inappropriate for me to comment in detail about how I view my assignment in the morning.
I'm headed to the Village Of Rayville, a burg that's been beset by political feuding, accusations of a religious cult (that's an alleged cultist's church, left), small-town he said/she said gossip, a petition drive to disincorporate, a state audit, the probable closing of the post office (that's it below, right) and, most recently, a proposed village ordinance to impose a per-head fee on animals that people keep inside the city limits. We're talking cows, goats, chickens, etc.that aren't fenced or properly restrained. One of the figures I've heard tossed around is $250 a head, which is a chunk of change in New York City, not to mention Rayville, pop. 204.
The problem I foresee is that the people I usually rely on to get reliable information -- the city clerk, village trustees, a public safety official etc. -- are either as involved in the mudslinging as the alleged religious cultists or their position doesn't exist at all (Rayville can't afford a police officer, last I heard). I don't think there's a public record/meeting minutes that can be relied on, so I'll have to go with the flow tomorrow morning and just report what I hear.
I am relieved that one of the county commissioners has been asked to attend, too. He's down to earth and not part of the feud. The last trustees meeting Rayville held actually was called off before it began because of name-calling, shouting and, I believe, some physical contact of a reprehensible and uncivilized nature.
That being the case, I plan to sit close to the door and possibly behind the county commissioner, who is built like a solid pulling guard. I'm not a coward, but I do have a lick or two of common sense and the desire for self-preservation. If there's any gunfire, I'm out the door, never to return.
I'm just hoping someone shows the wisdom of the owl (below) and not the he-and-she gunfighters. The owl, the cowpoke and his ridin' partner were photographed in Rayville early last year.