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Character council resumes meetings

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GREENFIELD — After a brief hiatus, the Hancock County Character Council is back in business. But the group dedicated to keeping good character top of mind is facing some of the same struggles that led it to disband in May.

Aside from a dedicated handful, the Character Council is still hurting for members. Just four people sat in the stark meeting room of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department Wednesday morning for the rebooted group’s second meeting – the location a change from the previous organization’s meeting spot at Hancock Regional Hospital.

It was a poor turnout, to be sure, but one thing that didn’t suffer was the conversation.

Over coffee and doughnuts, the small contingent of community leaders – they expect at least two others to regularly attend – engaged in an interesting and frank discussion about truthfulness, the month’s character trait.

Jack Frisby, presenter of Character First lessons for more than a decade now, facilitated the discussion by bringing up real-life situations and asking, at times, tough questions.

“Character is really how we conduct ourselves when nobody’s looking, right?” Frisby posed to the group.

The four kept up a continued conversation on the importance of truthfulness, its place in the working world and the challenges that can sometimes get in the way of being truthful.

“As a sales guy, there’s a tendency to want to accentuate the positive and leave out the potential negatives,” said city councilman John Patton, explaining a lesson he learned during his time in sales.

All in attendance seemed to understand that it’s not always easy to be 100 percent truthful in the business world, though it should be.

“These little things establish a foundation with some faults in it that could potentially be dangerous,” Frisby said.

It seems like an obvious lesson, admitted city councilman Judy Swift. Truthfulness and the other 48 character qualities, like benevolence, diligence and security, are not necessarily difficult concepts, but they aren’t always thought of or talked about as often as they should be, she said.

“It’s stuff we should know but can sometimes forget in everyday life,” Swift said.

Mike Shepherd, Hancock County Sheriff, agreed. He’s been a huge proponent of the Character Council for more than a decade and even helped coordinate a two-day character class for his deputies.

“They’re (the character qualities) just good for everyone to know,” Shepherd said.

That, Shepherd explained, is why he and the other members did not want to see the council disband – even if community participation was waning.

For now, Shepherd said the group will continue to meet at 8 a.m. the first Wednesday of each month at the sheriff’s department. Anyone is welcome to attend, and the group hopes more people will take advantage of the opportunity. Regardless, those who do believe in the council won’t let its small size keep it down.

“(Size) is something we’ve always struggled with,” Shepherd said, “But some of us just decided we like this and are going to figure it out.”

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