Editor’s note: Printed here are letters responding to Saturday’s front page story on the arrest of Dr. Bill Trout, who was jailed last week for contempt of court stemming from his 2008 divorce.
The story was based entirely on court and jail documents, though attorneys for Trout and his ex-wife were given an opportunity to respond.
We view the story as news worthy based on the fact that Trout is a public figure in our community and developer of a major Richmond Hill project, Station Xchange. Detailed information regarding Trout’s divorce and personal life were not included in the story since our information is limited and it was not considered pertinent to the basic story of his arrest.
We also believe it important to note two things:
One is that public figures, like public officials, are subject to more press scrutiny than private citizens -- and when someone in the public eye is arrested it is newsworthy.
The other is that reporting an arrest is not making a value judgement.
As a former employee of Dr. Bill Trout, I wish to express my displeasure at the way he was portrayed in the article entitled "Dr. Bill Trout Jailed for Contempt" posted on the Bryan County News website on April 3, 2009.
First of all, I do not believe this is the type of story that should appear on the front page of a reputable newspaper, complete with a mug shot. Dr. Bill Trout has been an invaluable member of the Richmond Hill community ever since I first met him as a dental patient in 1990. He had a vision to put Richmond Hill on the map by creating a "Downtown Community" for residents to come together for concerts, movies, Christmas celebrations, rather than have to drive to Savannah to experience "culture." While he could have cut corners to throw up another "strip mall" that probably could have brought in more money quicker, he wanted to create a vibrant downtown community for Richmond Hill. Unfortunately, just as these buildings were put up and ready for tenants, our country experienced a huge contraction in the real estate market specifically and the overall economy in general. As I was the bookkeeper for Dr. Bill Trout for 1 and a half years, I personally saw that Dr. Bill Trout DID NOT live an extravagant lifestyle. He put all of his money into The Station Xchange development as well as private school for his three sons to have the best education possible. This generous man also was good to the people who worked for him, leasing cars for his employees at his dental office as well as having Christmas parties for his employees and spending money that he did not have.The reasons I have listed above should have been enough for The Bryan County News to not put his mug shot on the front page, as if he was a criminal! But in addition to the reasons I listed above, I also was able to get to know Dr. Bill Trout personally as a friend. I saw him as a loving father who would do anything for his three sons, and looked forward to anytime he was able to see his boys.Needless to say, the situation of former marriage of Dr. Bill Trout
and Julie Trout is a complicated situation, that is not easily characterized by a few choice quotes from people with an axe to grind against a well-known person in the Richmond Hill community.
Even though I now live in California, I have family in Richmond Hill who has subscribed to your paper since 1990. I will encourage them to cancel their subscription, if your paper continues to be a tabloid publication not representative of the diversity of views in the Richmond Hill/Bryan County community.
Let me begin by saying I do not know Dr. Trout, I only know of his fine work in Richmond Hill. I know this just from word of mouth, not from the Bryan County News. Word flies in this town. Even though it is not as small as it used to be, word still gets around. That is one thing that Richmond Hill is known for (even if it's not the truth).
I just don't understand why this divorced couple had their personal business smeared on the front page of the Bryan County News paper. I can think of so much more that people nead to hear about, or so much more we could to do to help each other in this time of need.
My heart goes out to all involved in that situation.