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Talking it over: Disliking controversy

I really dislike controversy in our community. I may not be like most media people who thrive on controversial issues and believe these things can better your career or sell newspapers. I could work the rest of my life attending boring meetings and simply publishing good things that happen and be very content.

But controversy does happen and quite often when it does, I find that I become the person people blame in some indirect manner or somehow get caught up in it through discussions and phone calls. I have learned to try to be objective to both sides, no matter how I feel personally, and to stay out of the arguments. This is not always easy especially when I am attacked personally.

Monday morning I learned that some comments have been made on social media about the newspaper not being truthful in its coverage. I decided to respond via my own social media, my column in the newspaper, which by the way is totally my own opinion, thus called an editorial.

Each time I write an article about the school board meetings and city council meetings, I send a copy of it to either the mayor and city clerk, or the administrators and, in this case, the school board chairman, and ask them to check for accuracy. Sometimes they make corrections and I then go back to my taped coverage of the meeting to see if my notes where wrong. In some cases, I do make changes but at other times, my tape recording is a very accurate account of what was said. If someone is at the meeting and not recording it or taking notes, or not at the meeting and hearing things second or third hand, I would take a guess that my account would be more accurate.

Things can be interpreted differently and sometimes the voices can not be heard easily. There are times when people speak about something and never complete the sentence leaving people unsure as to what they actually wanted to say. It really is not an easy task to give voice to the things that are unsaid and so I try not to.

Later in the day on Monday, I sat at the funerals of two individuals who have made a very positive impact on this community. I was troubled by the loss for the community but also troubled by the situation that is taking place. It was then that I remembered so many of the people who have impacted the school and community, including these two people, and how much they cared about both.

I thought of Millie Goll, a constant, humble advocate for both and a good friend of many including Arletta Myers, whose funeral I was attending. There was not a time when I would speak to Millie that she did not praise me and encourage me in my work. I have carried that praise and the positive words of others with me each time things like this happen.

I am not alone in this struggle. The school board members and their families, the administration, the Steege family, and many others are caught up in it. I just wish everyone could heed Millie’s advice and keep a positive attitude toward the situation. She would be deeply saddened by what is taking place now. Negative comments and unwarranted criticism will not help. And above all else, please think before you speak and remember that words do hurt.