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They claim to be live, local and late breaking. They say they are reporting the news that affects you. But as far as I could tell last Sunday, Jefferson County television news programs consider local to mean only Louisville and parts of Bullitt and Oldham counties in Kentucky.
It appears that if you live in Trimble County, you are not the “you” they were talking about in all those news promos.
Driving around the county for three hours during Sunday’s windstorm, I witnessed uprooted trees and plenty of limbs lying on roadways, lawns and houses. Across the county, power lines dangled from their posts and power outages were widespread into the evening. Police, fire and EMS departments, as well as employees of the county and state road department and community members in general, were kept busy rerouting traffic, clearing roads and attending to persons injured and property damaged by falling limbs and flying debris.
The most significant event in terms of the number of Trimble County residents affected was likely the closure of the Milton-Madison Bridge following reports that pieces of the structure were falling into the Ohio River.
Although the bridge was closed to traffic around 2 p.m., by 11:30 p.m., I had yet to see any reports of this on the Louisville news channels and my father said later he had heard only one short mention. The bridge had been closed for more than 9 hours, but was still not important news in comparison to a few trees down at a Louisville golf course and a dozen recreational boats sunk in their eastern Jefferson County slips.
Maybe the news investigators didn’t hear about our bridge problems as they were flying helicopters over a Louisville golf course shooting video of collapsed folding chairs. Or maybe discussing beer sales at a Louisville grocery kept reporters from getting the news that the bridge heavily relied on by this community was closed until a state inspector could verify its integrity.
So I called them to ask. A few times.
My first calls were made around 5:30 p.m. I did not identify myself and only stated that I had not heard mention of the bridge closure and wondered if they were aware of or intending to report this event to the public.
My favorite answer came from a man who stated harshly, ‘maybe we’ll have it at 6. We have trees down in Louisville.”
At 6 p.m., that channel continued to report on the Louisville golf course, but not our bridge.
Shortly after 11 p.m., I made a couple more calls. This time around I encountered a very polite woman who assured me her station knew about our bridge situation. Had they broadcast the information and I had missed it, I inquired. (This was a question I asked of each person throughout the day, always receiving a negative response.)
She assured me I hadn’t missed her station’s report, as there had not been one.
She couldn’t say why, but she could say this particular station had not informed viewers they might need to make alternate plans if they wanted to travel from Milton, Ky., to Madison, Ind.
Did they intend to share any of this news with viewers, I asked. Only the station’s absent producer would know, I was told.
When that particular news program ended, I had again heard about the waterlogged boats, downed trees and power outages in Louisville. But still, no mention of the inconvenient detour facing residents and commuters in Trimble County.
Just as space is limited in this paper, so too is time on television news shows. But if words scrolling along the bottom of “local” television stations can be used to let 100 families know their child’s daycare center was to be closed Monday, why couldn’t it be used to say “Milton-Madison Bridge closed until further notice?”
I’m sure the thousands of commuters who regularly use the bridge would have appreciated the warning.
Thankfully, the bridge was reopened around 1 a.m. Monday.
And to those folks who were forced on Sunday to travel from Milton to Louisville, then across the bridge to Jeffersonville, Ind. and back along the river to reach Madison, at least you had the opportunity to see some of the earth shattering destruction that was deemed superior to our little bridge.