Cupcake caper isn't over yet

February 13, 2014 

The cupcake caper made the menu at a Madison County Health Department committee meeting this week. You know, the tale of 11-year-old Chloe Stirling, whose baking business was shut down by the county's public health police.

State's Attorney Tom Gibbons announced at the meeting: "I believe they will have a kitchen added onto her home" -- which was news to the Stirlings. They would like to build Chloe the commercial kitchen that the law requires, but that would be a huge expense and at this point those plans are little more than wishful thinking.

Apparently Gibbons was doing some wishful thinking of his own. He and county officials would like nothing more than to clean up the mess and move on to a happy ending.

Closing down the baking business of the young Troy entrepreneur has caused them more grief than they ever imagined. Instead of getting pats on the back for protecting the public's health, they have gained national and international ridicule for putting a child out of business.

County Public Health Administrator Toni Corona defends the state law. But really, what danger does Chloe's baking present? Under the law she could bake in her family kitchen and sell her wares at a farmer's market but she can't sell directly to her customers. How silly is that?

As much as county officials want the story to end, they offer no path to making it happen. Gibbons and health officials went to the Stirlings' house recently, but basically just reiterated the rules. "I think they came over to our house just to say that they came," was mom Heather Stirling's take. There's talk of changing the law, but when? Chloe could be driving or at college by the time lawmakers act.

The county's best bet is that someone donates that commercial kitchen. Maybe then the story and the negative attention will go away.

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