Thursday, January 11, 2001

Readers react

Spoilers, battlers, blamers

        Readers are spouting off about sneaky coal companies, nitpicking neighbors and Scrooge-like state officials.

        First, some good news: The officials have relented.

        Augusta's tiny bowling alley, Someplace Else, was fined $2,000 this fall after my column described its tradition of hiring adolescents to set up pins. I marveled at the manually operated lanes and praised the work ethic of the young employees. The Kentucky Labor Cabinet said they were too young to work in a place that serves alcohol.

        A second column criticized the cabinet's heavy-handedness in fining the business. A few days later, Someplace Else co-owner Jim Urban got a call from the state: His fine would be reduced to $200 if he acknowledged his mistake and promised not to repeat it.

        Mr. Urban is thrilled to get a break and grateful to Enquirer readers, who sent donations to help with the fine.

        Bill Plummer of Edgewood thought the state's action was as bad as a school expelling a student for drawing a picture of a gun, or politicians stealing elections based on dimpled chads.

        But other readers blamed me for the bar's trouble.

        “Your making it public forced the state to take action. I think you could have done that piece just as well without bringing up the age factor.”

Sy Sypolt, Florence

        “Some things are better left untouched, unspoiled. Savor the experience and history. Don't be so quick to open your mouth to the wrong person and spoil it.”


- Kevin Keely, Ann Arbor, Mich., formerly of Cincinnati

More on MainStrasse
        A Dec. 26 column said residents of MainStrasse in Covington should stop hassling each other with complaints to the city's code-enforcement office.

        Joe Mueller called to say the column left the impression he was among those complaining.

        He hasn't done so, although he has enough information to get his neighbors in big trouble, he says. Instead, he calls the city only about general safety issues in MainStrasse, he says.

        By contrast, MainStrasse businesswoman Alliea Phipps says she regularly calls in complaints and leaves her name. She was the one who reported smelly garbage outside the Cock N' Bull restaurant in October, she says.

        “It is a great neighborhood, but there are a couple of people down there that are making it very difficult for the residents,” Ms. Phipps says.

Not the Lord's doing
        Finally, many readers agreed with me that Martin County Coal Co. shouldn't blame God for a coal spill from one of its sludge ponds. In response to lawsuits over the environmental damage, the company is using the “Act of God” defense, meaning the accident was caused by forces beyond its control.

        “Great article. I don't know when corporations and their leaders are going to take responsibility for their bad actions as well as their good.”

- Don Rawlings, Mason

        “Martin County Coal may believe they will dodge a bullet using the “Act of God” defense, but do they really believe they can avoid God's ultimate judgment here? It's amazing what men will do for money, including brazenly using God to their advantage. Obviously they don't know Him or the reality of His existence.”


— Jeffrey T. Plummer, Amelia

       Karen Samples can be reached at 859-578-5584 or


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