When people get their news from social media, which is becoming increasingly common these days, they're making the assumption that gossip is usually accurate.
I don't know why, because often what's floating around out there is a long ways from being true.
Look at the gun-in-the-school hoax a couple months ago. Absolutely nothing to it. No truth at all. Two unrelated posts got mushed together, some people jumped to an unwarranted conclusion, the old telephone-gossip game kicked in and -- viola! --we had a crisis. Despite the fact police were able to quickly determine it wasn't true, and said so almost immediately, and we posted that fact just as fast, it still went viral through the social media gossip line, hundreds of kids got pulled out of school, and both parents and kids worried unnecessarily. Social media triumphed over facts and critical thinking.
The latest internet gossip involves the Mountain Home Country Music Festival.
Somehow, people who obviously never actually read the stories we've written (I suspect their attention span ends at 140 characters), started jumping to a lot of conclusions and "filling in the blanks" (their own) with their assumptions that they considered to be "obvious facts" and suddenly you have people claiming that the festival organizers are pulling out, the county has turned them down, go on from there.
People also are claiming that's what we reported. It wasn't. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Not even close.
The only thing that is happening is that some of the nearby landowners want a better fire protection and traffic safety plan than the one in the conditional use permit originally approved by the county planning and zoning commission. So they've appealed the P&Z decision up to the commissioners, who are looking to see if modifying the CUP would be appropriate and necessary. That's all.
Nobody is talking about canceling the concert or rejecting the entire CUP.
In fact, for a major project like this, it's amazing that there's only a couple things people are even concerned about. That's a pretty short list for an appeal and nothing there that can't be resolved if the commissioners even decide the appeal points are valid.
The landowners aren't bad guys. They've looked around at their friends, seen what a major fire can do, and have some concerns. Anybody who's lived in this county over the last couple of years has a right to be paranoid about fires.
And concerns about traffic are pretty standard stuff with any conditional use permit where normal traffic flow is going to be altered.
The landowners aren't trying to scuttle the concert, they just want their concerns addressed.
The county commissioners aren't the bad guys. They're following standard procedure and actually listening to their constituents, both the ones with concerns and the ones that are gung-ho for the project, which includes almost everybody in the county. It's the job of the commissioners to hear appeals from the P&Z and take all factors into consideration. They're doing their due diligence. They don't want to scuttle the concert.
The concert, after all, will be an economic boost to the area, and I don't know anybody who opposes that.
In fact, the festival organizers choose small places like Elmore County specifically to help give small economies a shot in the arm. It's part of their philosophy of existence. And if it turns out to be profitable, they'll be back. It'll be a long-running economic boost.
Plus, it sort of puts Elmore County on the map.
So, other than the people running around spreading doom and gloom on the internet, who didn't bother to actually read the stories or call their elected officials to find out what was happening, I don't see any bad guys out there, or a problem with the festival.
This is a process. That's all.
The county commissioners want to see an economic boost and they also have a responsibility to see that issues of public safety are adequately met.
For the festival organizers, this isn't their first rodeo. They also know how the process works and their original plan showed they'd considered (and learned from previous events they've put on) what would be needed too provide a fun -- and safe -- multi-day concert event. It's why it went through P&Z pretty smoothly.
Because we think this is an important event, we're trying to follow it through the process as thoroughly as we can. The existence of a story doesn't mean there's a problem.
The county may make some minor modifications to the CUP, or it may not. As I write this, they're debating that.
If the county does modify the CUP, right now I don't see any deal-breakers here, nothing that reasonable people can't work out in plenty of time for the concert to go forward.
So, don't believe everything you see on the internet.
Unless you like dating French models.
-- Kelly Everitt