Thursday, September 29, 2005

A good weekend in Ohio County that maybe be the last of its kind.

This is one of the biggest, if not the biggest weekends in Ohio County this year. This weekend Ohio County becomes the Bluegrass capitol of the universe. (Eat that Owensboro!) This weekend in Rosine, the Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Celebration is taking place. This festival starts today, Sept. 29 and ends on Sunday Oct. 2. There will be over forty bands playing this weekend and it will draw a huge crowd, many from out of state.

For those of you who do not know, Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass music was born in Rosine, Kentucky, which happens to be in my home county. This is a big deal to any Bluegrass music fan. This is like Graceland for Bluegrass music fans. Before the annual Bluegrass festival and the Bill Monroe home place exhibit, Ohio County was known more for being the best place in the country to get away with murder. (Allegedly Paul Harvey said this on his radio show during the year there were about 5 unsolved murders committed in Ohio County.)

A man came to Ohio County to head up the Rosine Project. He was a doctor from Eastern Kentucky, who also seemed to be eaten up with the crazies for Bluegrass music. He was so eaten up, that he got the project off the ground quickly. He was fanatical. The first festival was in 2002 and was deemed a success, but the Rosine Project was a non profit entity and couldn’t afford to keep going just on donations and pay all the bands for the festival. So, the bands started playing for free and the festival continued and continued to do well. Sounds like a great deal for the county and Bluegrass music, right?

Well, this doctor from Eastern Kentucky has seemingly gone insane. It wasn’t that noticeable at first. The man is very likeable and well spoken. He seems to believe all that he is saying, even when sometimes it is not close to the truth. The first big chink in the armor occurred when the doctor claimed that Ricky Skaggs would be headlining the festival one year. He was interviewed by the editor of the OC Times-News and was asked point blank, would Ricky Skaggs be at the festival that year. The doctor said yes and the newspaper ran the big story. Later representatives for Ricky Skaggs said they had never heard anything about this and said Mr. Skaggs would not be in attendance. You could see the cracks forming.

This man then sued the foundation that was paying him to run the Rosine Project and the good doctor was fired from his official position as the overseer of the Rosine Project, but the Bill Monroe Foundation, which was appointed by the county to oversee the use of the Bill Monroe home place, elected him to be their leader. This new position was essentially the same job he was fired from, only he didn’t collect a salary for this job. (I know, this sounds incredibly stupid and the county, which actually owns the Bill Monroe home place, should have stepped in and taken over the whole project.)

He controls a board that is supposed to make the decisions on matters affecting the Rosine Project, but that board only does what he wants. None of them will go against him; they will not speak up about indiscretions they have witnessed. I have spoken with one who was very close to the board and volunteering their time to the cause, but after seeing how some things were done, they quit being so available. When contacted for a story in the local paper, this person denied ever saying anything against the good doctor for fear of what might happen for stepping out of line.

This crazy doctor then sued the man who owned the land surrounding the Bill Monroe Foundations land. The land that the festival, in the past, had used for parking and other essential needs. Because of the lawsuit, that land was said to be off limits for the festival’s use. How does the good doctor cope with this? He said that he and the owner have worked out a deal for this weekend. When the landowner’s lawyer was contacted about this so called settlement, he said there had been no conversations about letting the land be used for anything during the festival. Apparently the mad doctor is going to use the land regardless of what the owner or the law says.

The mad doctor has sued just about everyone that he needs help from to keep this thing going. Most of the people he has sued are the richest and most powerful people in the county and most got that way from being very smart and also very tactical. I see no good coming to the Rosine Project and the good doctor because of this war.

I can only see things going south for the Rosine Project and the county. I believe that the doctor will see what he has helped create, destroyed before he is ousted by the county or his acolytes wake up and realize he is leading them down a dark path. He has turned this battle into a good vs. evil battle, claiming God is on their side and the other side is “evil.” I have a hard time seeing which side is which. I feel like there will be no winners in this war, but maybe things won’t have to be completely destroyed before an end comes.

So, as we go into another wonderful Jerusalem Ridge festival, I have to wonder what will be the future of the Rosine Project and will this doctor, who loves Bluegrass music, love this whole project to death?

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