Not a bad hare day
Good news and bad are the tortoise and hare of journalism. Bad news jumps out front early, often with big headlines on Page 1. Good news typically starts farther back, in smaller type, even if it slowly but surely will eventually win the race.
We try our best to report the good and the bad — and everything interesting in between. We love it when circumstance gives us the opportunity to accord good news the prominence normally reserved for unexpected developments. But good news often is less about big, unexpected developments than it is about everyday dedication. As a result, it often doesn’t get as much attention.
Never wanting the tortoise to be overshadowed by the hare, we this week devote a few words on this page to good things observant readers may have been noticing each week in the small type of our Docket page further back in the paper.
Some time back, comparing the Hillsboro police activity report to the same report for Marion, even the most loyal Marion supporter might have been left with the impression that Marion police didn’t do much other than warn motorists and fail to locate stray dogs.
Whether it was the arrival of a new chief and new officers, a response to concerns raised by a city council member or news stories about dogs and mail delivery, or merely a coincidence, that’s changed dramatically — and for the better.
Marion’s ordinances against dogs running free now are being enforced — humanely, with warnings if owners didn’t intend the release, and decisively, with example-setting tickets in other cases. The same appears to be true for traffic violations and the handling of complicated disputes.
The change has been more subtle than abrupt, but comparing now to some months ago, it is profound. Even more important, when we have interviewed officers (which some other law enforcement agencies try to keep us from doing), they have reported that the city’s police department is a great place to work.
It also seems to have a heart. Just look at last week’s police activity report for how a Marion officer stopped to help a turtle cross the road. That’s one tortoise coming to the aid of another.
We feel the same way about the county’s emergency medical service. When serious accidents or injuries happen, ambulances routinely back each other up without having to be asked.
The emergency medical services director takes an active role in personally responding to the most serious calls and in aggressively redirecting resources when multiple calls at the same time might interfere with prompt response.
The difference isn’t as startling, perhaps, because dedicated ambulance workers in the county always have had a strong work ethic. But there seems to be an even greater spirit of everyone — part-time and full — working together for the public good. Procedures seem to be tighter, communication more effective, and service both expert and caring.
Firefighters in the county always have been models of efficiency, seamlessly cooperating with each other under clear chains of command that rarely if ever get in the way of outstanding service. Ambulance crews weren’t that far behind but now seem to be at a similar level.
A few months or years ago, the entire array of emergency services was more in disarray than array. There still are concerns — some quite legitimate, others just the nature of the challenge — behind how calls are dispatched. But in other areas, all motion appears to be in the right direction.
The tortoise is emerging from the small type of the Docket page and has made it to the much bigger type of the Opinion page. If we can be so bold as to speak for the entire community, we owe these tireless public servants our thanks for slowly but steadily winning the race.
— ERIC MEYER
Last modified June 12, 2019