To the Editor of the Tri-City Tribune,
It was very disheartening to read the letter to the editor from Ms. Easton and Ms. Campbell regarding Mayor Dixon Chandler and the Region 8 Good Neighbor Tour. I feel that some undeserved blame was placed on Mayor Chandler about the "people on the list who would eat and who wouldn't".
If there is anyone who should shoulder the blame, it is me. When we first developed the idea of the Region 8 Good Neighbor Tour, we wanted to do something very special for the folks of every community we spotlighted. We thought that providing a barbecue dinner would do just that. We approached Whole Hog BBQ and they were thrilled with the opportunity to serve the folks of the Region 8 area.
In the initial planning stages of the tour, we decided that there was no way to provide a dinner for everyone in each community. You see, the combined population of the 8 cities on the tour is 61,674 and that's a whole lot of barbecue. So it was decided that we would rely on the Mayors and the Chambers of Commerce of each community chosen to help select the folks who had contributed to each cities nomination as a Region 8 Community of the Year. We tried to limit the invitation lists to 100 people.
Early on, in discussions with Mayor Chandler, he felt that there would be folks left out. Mayor Chandler decided that he would provide the hot dogs and drinks for those that were not on the list. As to how the invitees were chosen, I am told that clubs and groups in Marked Tree were each asked to send 10 people. The Mayor told me himself, he only invited 6 people to the event. It should be noted that after the folks on the list were served, we served anyone who wanted dinner until we ran out of food.
To Ms. Easton, Ms. Campbell, and others who may have felt slighted by the process I am truly sorry. KAIT did not intend to offend or exclude anyone. We had the best of intentions and unfortunately, sometimes good intentions are not enough.
I can honestly tell you that the employees and staff responsible for the execution of the Region 8 Good Neighbor Tour enjoyed the time spent getting to better know the people of Marked Tree and I hope you enjoyed having us there as much as we enjoyed spotlighting your community.
Vice-President & General Manager
KAIT Channel 8