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Archive for Thursday, September 6, 2001

Chamber takes heat after newspaper article

September 6, 2001

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— Businesses are leaving the Garnett Area Chamber of Commerce after newspaper publisher and chamber member Dane Hicks ran a front-page article about the drunken driving arrest of an Anderson County commissioner.

Gene Highberger, chairman of the Anderson County Commission, was arrested Aug. 18 on suspicion of driving under the influence after attending a fund-raiser for the chamber of commerce.

Chamber members lambasted Hicks for running the story on the front page of the Anderson County Review. Another local paper, the Anderson County Advocate, ran Highberger's arrest as a police item on an inside page.

"There are people who get so angry about free-press issues, they will attack a civic organization instead of coming to get the guy who's responsible," Hicks said.

Hicks did write a letter of apology to the chamber of commerce board after he became angry and used profanities during a special meeting regarding the issue. Hicks said no one asked for his resignation or removal.

Business owners estimated about 10 businesses had withdrawn their membership. The chamber has said it could not reveal the number and names of businesses until confirmed by chamber president Les Thomas. He could not be reached for comment.

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