As a general rule, people know how they feel about Buc-ee's. To some, the Wall Street Journal included, the big-box-convenience-store empire is a decadent piece of roadside kitsch, a symbol of American culture's ongoing decline. To others, it's an oasis, a snack-food and novelty-gift wonderland, its Beaver Nuggets offering a delightful antidote to the unrelenting monotony of interstate driving.
Count Kaufman County resident Chris Phillips firmly in the latter category.
"I'm excited! I love it!" Phillips said Monday night after being informed by WFAA's Teresa Woodard that Terrell will be getting a Buc-ee's flagship store on Interstate 20. "Love the T-shirts, love walking around shopping. Gonna be a good place to go."
Joining Phillips in the pro-Beaver Nugget camp is Mike Elswick, publisher of the Terrell Tribune. He was giddy at the prospect of breaking the Buc-ee's news in his paper when it is officially announced at tonight's meeting of the Terrell City Council. It's a big deal, after all.
"The chain was won national recognition as having among the cleanest restrooms of any commercial venture," Elswick writes. "Buc-ee's has gained regional and national media attention both for the size of the locations and the chain's restrooms."
Imagine his disappointment, then, when he turned on the TV Monday night to discover that the Tribune had been scooped by WFAA.
Rather than congratulate Woodard on her scoop or quietly vowing to be more dogged in reporting in the future, Elswick fired off an angry, blame-shifting editorial. It's behind a paywall on the Tribune's website, but the paper has generously posted it in full on its Facebook page.
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The Tribune, Elswick suggests, caught wind of the plans a while back as officials with the city, chamber of commerce, and the Terrell Economic Development Corp were hammering out the Buc-ee's deal, but the paper agreed to hold off on publication, "thinking it would be in the city's best interest to make a big splash with the announcement."
"I was wrong," Elswick continues.
On Monday evening, evidently with information provided by the city and chamber of commerce, a Dallas television station aired the city of Terrell's plans to make their big announcement.
To the readers of The Terrell Tribune, who hopefully rely on us to be an objective news source, we have let you down. As recently as earlier Monday I was contacted by a Terrell city official attempting to make plans for a 6 p.m. interview prior to the official announcement at the Tuesday Terrell City Council meeting so that the hometown newspaper would have a heads-up on what was about to be announced.
I feel the Tribune staff has been lied to and misled by local officials in an effort to make a big splash in the Dallas media with their announcement. That is unfortunate.
While I have attempted to work with local officials, this is a real slap in the face to both the hometown news source and the people of Terrell.
I was told releasing information on the arrival of Buc-ee's early might jeopardize the development. Evidently that only holds up if the people of Terrell know about it - not the viewers of a major Dallas television station to who details were released.
A valuable lesson to learn, though not one most newspaper men would be willing to air so publicly. Then again, news that Terrell will soon be home to some of the cleanest commercial restrooms in America is a big scoop to miss. Buc-ee's is scheduled to open in Terrell in late 2014.