Last year when The Door Stop and CANIT (Citizens Against Noise and Industrial Travesties) were waging war over the decibel level of the cabinet door company's manufacturing operation, Jim Hill and Ernie Pritchard loomed larger than life.
The president of The Door Stop and the leader of CANIT waged a monumental struggle in this newspaper, in the chambers of the town council, and anywhere else they could find a forum. One memorable Roundup illustration incorporated separate photos of the pair pointing forcefully as they made their points during an open house the town held to try and resolve the issue.
Lance Decker, the professional facilitator the town brought up from the Valley to broker a settlement, began the open house by saying, "What we have is an opportunity for the community to come together and reason together."
But at the end, he threw up his hands and said, "Is there any place these two can live? I thought I heard some real consensus early on, but I'm not seeing any."
Hill liked to joke that he and Pritchard wouldn't be likely to exchange Christmas cards.
The two men finally produced a shaky compromise, only to see it put on hold when the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality launched an investigation of The Door Stop's operation after more complaints were filed by neighbors. Then came the March 3 letter from a Phoenix law firm on behalf of some CANIT members, threatening a lawsuit if Hill didn't comply with a host of alleged violations, most of which were petty and unrelated to noise.
Hill called Pritchard to ask whether he had anything to do with the letter. He hadn't, and the once bitter foes set about piecing together a solution they could both live with.
For his part Hill "sweetened the pot," offering to do even more than their original deal mandated. For his part, Pritchard let it be known he was not pleased with CANIT's more radical faction -- and set about to keep the original agreement on track, including putting together a meeting that could end this feud once and for all.
An interesting thing seems to have happened to these men who didn't have much use for one another. At some point in the process of working through the issues that separated them, Hill and Pritchard began to develop a mutual respect.
Statements like, "I can certainly see where Jim is coming from," and, "I told Ernie I'm going to do it, and I'm going to do it," began to replace their strident, caustic comments of before.
It's too early to say the strife is over, but the relationship Hill and Pritchard have developed bodes well for the town. Maybe friendship is a little too strong a word at this point, but an exchange of Christmas cards could be a definite possibility.