Hey, Who Gave You That?

A misdirected press release provides endless amusement to our favorite invertebrate

The Worm digs deep so you don't have to. Contact the Worm at [email protected].

Worm's always been a cutting-edge creature, an invertebrate on top of the news. So it made sense that Worm'd jump on the hottest news tip of 2002: Not only is white-bread St. Charles County a happening place, the state's fastest-growing county "reflects and represents" the true heartland of the nation.

Just "compare the demographics" of St. Charles to the nation's, advises Partners for Progress of St. Charles County, a biz-promotion group that includes WingHaven's developer, Pals Financial Group and Baue Funeral Homes.

In a press release designed to get the county favorable mention in news media "year-enders," the Partners say St. Chuck's home to everything that's "in" for 2003.

What's "in"? Spending more time with family. Planned communities. Suburban corporate campuses. Active, involved citizens. Easy suburban living.

That's not all. Also making the list of heartland hits for aught-three: smart bombs (made by Boeing, natch) and Republicans.

For every "in" there's an "out," and what's out includes downtown corporate skyscrapers, "fast-talking" CEOs and unplanned urban sprawl. Out, too: dumb bombs and Democrats.

Worm had plenty of time to check out this info as he tried to slither across the Blanchette Memorial Bridge on his way to the Heartland -- a traffic-choked world of strip malls, fast-food restaurants, big-box retailers, censorious Bible-thumping county execs and butt-ugly housing developments.

Compare the demographics? OK, how 'bout these numbers? Nearly one in three Americans is nonwhite; 94 percent of the "heartland" is Caucasian. Twelve percent of the nation lives in poverty; 4 percent of the "heartland" is poor."

But who's Worm to quibble?

Ron O'Connor, public-relations guru of O'Connor & Partners Inc., says the press release was, in part, intended to be humorous.

The dig at Democrats? A joke, O'Connor says. Republicans won big in November -- and St. Charles recently leans Republican. "We're certainly hope we're not polarizing," O'Connor adds.

The release was aimed at about 1,200 media outlets, including business publications. "It was an attempt to focus, with some humor, the national media on how St. Charles County reflects a good strong work ethic, a good place to relocate," O'Connor says.

The goal's not to get St. Louis companies to cross the Missouri River -- Lord knows they don't need any encouragement -- so the Partners wasn't peddling its list of "ins" and "outs" locally.

As O'Connor says: "It was inadvertent that it ended up at the Riverfront Times."

Inadvertent, but excellent.

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