Those who thought the leaders from Cumberland, Benham and Lynch would be able to work together when the towns were selected for funding by the Kentucky Appalachian Commission as part of the Community Development Initiative were likely disappointed by recent media reports.
Benham leaders advocated breaking away from the Main Street program during a meeting earlier this month, apparently due in large part to the recent decision by Terina Collins to resign as director.
Collins blasted Tri-City officials in an Associated Press report after an ongoing feud with several members of the board.
"I could beat my head against a brick wall and get the same sensation I got working with some of those guys," Collins said.
Collins received backing from her allies on the Benham City Council, including Mayor Betty Howard, who was ready to leave the Tri-City Main Street program despite complaints from council member Mary Creech.
"You can holler cooperation all you want, but I've not seen any," Howard said. "I say we call our own shots."
Another council member reportedly had some harsh words for Cumberland Mayor Jeff Harrison and the city of Lynch for not supporting Collins.
Howard and the council member told an Enterprise reporter during the Oct. 9 meeting that their comments weren't for publication, apparently unaware that no comments during an open public meeting are off the record.
Benham's complaints were answered a couple of days later by Harrison, who aptly described the council's comments as "trash-talking."
"The apparent trash-talking that's been going on in the media and apparently at Thursday night's board meeting really bothers me," he said. "I feel sorry for the city of Benham. They need better representation."
Harrison added that Collins' resignation was accepted unanimously by the board.
Collins accepted a part-time Main Street position with London, which reportedly led to another disagreement with Tri-City Main Street board members and eventually her decision to resign.
"I, along with some of the other board members, just couldn't agree to offer her a full-time salary only working three days a week, and also working part-time with a competitive city," Harrison said.
It seems a little excessive for Benham to be discussing breaking away from the program because of a disagreement about one person's status with the organization, but it often doesn't take a lot to provoke a fight in small-town politics.
While Lynch officials have tried to stay above the bickering, Lynch Mayor Tom Vicini had the best solution several years ago when he suggested merging the three small towns.
Vicini has since backed away from the idea after receiving criticism in his own town, but just because his idea wasn't popular doesn't mean it wasn't right.
The Tri-Cities are simply too small to have three governments with shrinking tax bases fighting to survive. If they were combined, the Tri-Cities would have a better chance at getting the grants they so desperately seek for tourism projects and improving infrastructure.
There are too many amateur politicians involved the way it is now, but a merger isn't likely to happen anytime soon because some Tri-Cities leaders are more concerned about protecting their own turf or doing it their way than helping the entire area progress.
As Collins said in the AP report, "until the people involved in that power struggle step out of the way or die, this is the way it's going to be."
Even though that's not a promising view of the future, it's probably accurate unless real changes are made. There's been too much "we" and "them" and not enough "us" in recent discussions.