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Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014

How many sports writers does it take?

Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2012, at 9:49 AM

You can tell it's summertime around here just by looking at who's getting stories in the news section of the paper.

In case you didn't see it, in Tuesday's edition of the Daily World snuggled into the recesses of the heart of the paper was a small story about a fire at the Linton Conservation Club.

While it seems like a mundane and rather uneventful overall outcome, the way it happened is another story.

As sports editor B.J. Hargis and myself were sitting around Monday afternoon discussing events that have made an impact on the history of high school basketball in southern Indiana -- namely where the old Vincennes Township and Vincennes Gibault School's fit into the history of high school hoops -- a call came over the newsroom scanner.

It was a call to send fire department units to a fire at the Linton Conservation Club.

Without much hesitation, I responded when general manager Chris Pruett pressed me into action. At first I looked around the room as if he were talking to someone else, anyone else.

Then I realized that our intrepid Sabrina Westfall had been dispatched to another pressing matter, namely her stomach.

So realizing after the second such bid by Chris that he was talking to me and B.J., I quickly diverted my attentions to his request that one of us go take a picture.

Well, this is not unusual in small newsrooms that the sports guys fill in when no one else is around. Or in other words -- when they're desperate for somebody they ask the sports guys to cover a news event.

After looking at B.J. looking at me, I decided to accept the challenge of our fearless leader and prove to him that he was more than justified in handing the reins of a breaking news story to the capable hands of the sports department.

Or as soon as the thought settled in that B.J. didn't really want to do it, I took up the staff and went about asking where it was I was supposed to go and most importantly, how do I get there?

After an abbreviated lesson on where the conservation club was located, I grabbed my camera and immediately decided that B.J. should accompany me. If for no other reason than if I got lost he could help me find my way back to the office.

What follows next will certainly not go down in the annuls of journalism as an epic charge to the scene and a rapid and controlled gathering of facts.

No, instead it might better be described as some lesser form of two old guys in a clown car trying not to hurt themselves.

As we headed out we noticed the fire truck sirens. Also a good sign when you're looking to take a picture at a fire scene.

So as we began our journey, we saw the fire truck headed in the same direction. Thus, we deduced it must be headed for the same place.

Actually we were in traffic when the truck came up behind us and we had to pull over and wait for it to pass.

As B.J. kept an eagle-eye on the truck, I quickly guided my silver Buick Regal that had become the Greene County Daily World quick response unit in the same general direction.

What follows next is a good reason to not send two sports writers on a fire run.

First, when we reached Park Rd. the fire truck didn't turn, it continued on ahead.

That left us with a decision -- do we continue on the same path or do we turn and take our chances? We decided to turn and take our chances, oh brother.

Second, seeing as how neither B.J. nor I had ever been to the Linton Conservation Club, we drove well past it.

Not that a motocross track is anything you can't see, especially one that close to the road, but when you're looking for smoke, well you get the idea.

Third, after driving well past where we should have been, I had the brilliant idea of calling someone who might actually know where it is.

I told B.J. to immediately put in a call to our "Man of the Hour" Shad Cox.

For those of you who don't know Shad, he does photography for us and it just so happened that he took pictures at the motocross track, so obviously he would know right where we were supposed to be.

After Shad told B.J. on the phone where it was I looked around and knew we had overshot the target.

We did an immediate turnabout and noticed that we were still no better off than before.

As we drove back in the direction we came from, B.J.'s ever sharp eyes noticed a fire truck sitting in the middle of the road.

It was moving as slowly as we were -- and while I didn't ask -- I think he was in the same boat as we were.

Anyway before I besmirch the Linton Fire Dept. any further by intimating that their sense of direction is as bad as mine, we followed the truck and realized he was going to where we were. Obviously you moron.

What followed next is only a blur as we meandered down the beaten path to what we would later find out was a brush fire.

To make an even longer story as relatively short as possible, the recon done by two old guys in a Buick continued to resemble the aforementioned clowns in a car reference.

"Do you see any smoke?", I asked B.J. looking around.

"No, but I can smell it," he replied with zeal.

That led to a few very rough -- and deep I might add -- washouts and ruts in the road that my car wasn't normally accustomed to circumnavigating.

A few more well placed, "I don't think this is going anywhere's" and "I would like to find a place to turnaround," under our belts had us finally heading in the right direction.

Ultimately we did find our way to the scene and of course is was out by the time we got there.

So, after B.J. decided he'd had enough and opted to stay in the car, I gathered the info from Brad Sparks, LFD chief, got a picture or two and was on my way back to write what can only be described as either A "a great piece of American journalism" or B: 200 words on a fire that could have been a lot worse if not for the dedicated men -- Jason Smith and Ross Gentry -- of the Linton Fire Dept.

They say that getting there is half of the battle, well in this case it was about 85 percent give or take.

All I can add to this epic tale of adventure, intrigue and mild incompetence of two otherwise professional and dedicated SPORTS journalists, who had to go back to their news roots is, Sabrina is banned from lunch ever again and please respect the current conditions and don't make the dangerous and tough jobs of our local heroes, aka the Linton Fire Dept., any more difficult than it has to be.

A sidenote here, thanks to all three firefighters we encountered for not laughing us out of the area when we tried to get the story, it must have been an odd sight.

Rick is a sports writer for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at (812) 847-4487, ext. 20. He can also be reached by email at rcurl@gcdailyworld.com.



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