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  • Last modified 131 days ago (June 14, 2018)

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Headline to come

No, it’s not a mistake. We didn’t forget to put a headline on this week’s editorial. If we had intended to leave a spaceholder for a headline, we would have done it in classic journalistic shorthand: “HTK” or “hed to kum.”

What we instead mean by this week’s headline is that we aren’t sure what the future holds — for our state and nation, for our community, even for the three community newspapers we publish.

We won’t presume to try to explain the challenges facing the nation — an increasingly fractured country presided over by a uniquely coiffed leader who at times deservedly gets less respect than his office would seem to merit.

We likewise will lament, but not presume to offer a solution to, the problems of the political party that most people hereabouts belong to but that increasingly seems intent on representing more radical viewpoints than the good Republicans of Marion County possess.

We’ll leave that to comics, pundits and social media memes — all of which you can (and perhaps advisedly should) ignore.

We will, however, talk about community.

Although a small but vocal group of readers continually accuse us of accentuating the negative, we always try our best, both when I’m in town and when I’m away at my “real” job, to focus on positive developments and proactive solutions to problems. True, we get in trouble from time to time — partly because news isn’t always positive and partly because the first step in the positive process of solving a problem is admitting the negative nature of the problem itself.

This week, we’ve succeeded in putting together a very positive paper. If you can’t find half a dozen role models profiled on the pages of this issue, you must be a heck of a lot more jaded than we journalists are accused of being.

The problem is, while going out of our way to find out about these hometown heroes, we constantly were confronted by less positive news: how one in five Marion County residents needs mental health services, how two in five Marion children live in such poverty as to qualify for free and reduced price lunches, how the weekly jail roster seems to be swelling larger and larger, with ever more familiar names regularly appearing on it.

We sympathize with expatriate Marion natives who clamor to find greener pastures in metropolitan areas, but we worry about the ever depleted number of movers and shakers staying in the community. We drive into town from east, west, or south, and the first things that strike us, at or near the city limits, are decaying stone structures that once were the pride of a justifiably proud community.

This is a shout-out to all the people like me, who at one point left Marion: It’s time to come back — to live and more important to invest in the future of a community that gave whatever present comfort we enjoy.

Our community is at a crossroads. Will it become a haven for those who can’t afford anyplace else, an economy existing almost solely of semi-skilled workers suckling at government’s endless teat of ridiculously high-paying jobs? Or will we be what the Marion of old was?

This isn’t a question we can answer by voting to bring in some outside promoter. It’s something each of us must address every day and in every way.

As go communities, so go newspapers. Rarely will you find a good town without a good newspaper, or a good newspaper without a good town. So even if we didn’t care for Marion itself, we would care for our own sake — as many business and professional people should.

Editing and designing this week’s paper, I found it good that I had brought a shoehorn with me this summer. We thank those merchants who help keep the paper going by advertising and hope even more join them so that we, like the community, can remain strong.

Meanwhile, we owe an apology to Marion police chief Tyler Mermis, who we last week said no longer provided copies of the public portion of official reports. Our reporters just didn’t know where he was putting them. Minutes after our paper hit the streets, he came forward to offer to go out of his way and hand-deliver them. No grudges. No arguments. Just cooperation. That’s what Marion needs.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified June 14, 2018

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