Whitley County lost a couple of very good men last week with the death of former Whitley County Judge-Executive Leroy Gilbert and assistant Whitley County Attorney Gary Brittain.
I met both men early during my journalism career.
My second job out of college was working at a certain local daily newspaper that shall remain nameless (LOL) covering Knox County.
At the time, Gary was county attorney in Knox County, and I dealt with him frequently. The thing that I will remember most about Gary is that he always returned my calls when he got the message. Sometimes he didn’t get the message until the next day, but he always called me back, which isn’t always the case when you are a journalist.
I always appreciated that.
I got to know Leroy pretty well when I went to work for the News Journal in the mid-1990’s. In the early years of Leroy’s administration, he was busy trying to dig the county of a deep financial hole that he inherited. His wife, Mary Ann, volunteered to do a lot of receptionist and secretarial work for him since the county was too broke to pay someone to do it that first year or two.
Although he was an avid Democrat, Leroy differed from his party in a few key areas. Fiscally speaking, Leroy was a conservative person who tried to cut county spending and not raise taxes. He was also staunchly opposed to abortion.
Leroy was a person who loved politics. It was his hobby.
Even before he was elected as judge-executive, Leroy served as then Gov. Brereton Jones’ contact person in Whitley County. As judge-executive he loved to go to Frankfort and hob nob trying to get every dime of grant money and state funds for the county that he could.
Had Leroy been a lifelong Republican I think he would have been elected to more than one term as judge-executive, but he wasn’t. However, he accomplished a lot during the one term that he served.
Both of these men will be missed.
Now for another thought before I conclude this column.
• As most of you know by now, some folks over at Williamsburg Independent School were caught on video throwing some trophies away in a dumpster last week in what I am affectionately referring to as “trophy gate.” It was the star of social media for a few days after the video was posted on Facebook.
A few hours after he found out about it, Superintendent Dr. Amon Couch had a staffer fish the trophies out of the dumpster. He promises that the damaged trophies will be repaired. Couch insists that the matter was a “miscommunication” and after speaking with him Thursday at length, I am inclined to believe this was not something that he ever intended to happen.
The school was trying to clean off a trophy case that wasn’t in good shape and to move some more significant trophies to positions of more prominence.
The goal was and still is to figure out what to do with things like a 30-year-old participation trophy or a 40-year-old fifth place trophy from some obscure tournament.
I think a good place to start might be for the school district to publish a list of trophies it no longer has room for, or a need for or doesn’t wish to display any more and let the public submit suggestions for what to do with the trophies.
Putting together the list together might be a good job for the folks that threw the trophies in the dumpster last week.
Someone that played on a team that won a participation trophy might like to have it. A restaurant or business might want to display some. Maybe someone would volunteer to build some new trophy cases to meet current and future needs at the school.
Since the public is already involved making much deserved criticism over what occurred, the school district might want to think about harnessing some of that energy to come up with solutions for its trophy situation both present and future.