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Taking the good news with the bad

Newspaper Front pages, like life itself, often are studies in contrast. Our own front page this week is no exception.

At the very top and very bottom are topics we all can be proud of — this weekend’s much anticipated Chingawassa Days and one of the most beloved teachers and coaches this community has ever known.

In between? That’s a different story — two different stories, in fact, both of which give us pause even as we point with pride at other topics on the page.

It’s not negativity to admit that even in the nicest of towns, like Marion, drugs, alcohol, and decaying family values can lead to news stories that, quite frankly, we in the business would rather not have to write.

We’re compelled to do so because all of us need to be reminded not of crime or decay but of the impact they may have on innocent young lives touched by them. Dirty laundry, it seems, sometimes does require an airing out before it can truly be clean again.

As citizens, it’s our ethical obligation not to turn a blind eye to bad news but to face it head-on and redouble our efforts to provide not just rules and enforcement but also jobs, activities, social services, and moral leadership to address such situations.

We naturally wonder whether stories like these would be less frequent if more people enjoyed the wholesome fun of a Chingawassa Days; experienced the exemplary dedication of a Rex Wilson from all of their teachers, coaches, and mentors; or grew up in an town like Marion, where wholesome family recreation is considered a vital component of community vitality.

That’s where the other topic — Marion’s ongoing discussion over its rec program — comes in. A few weeks ago, the city seemed careening down a path to create an atomic flyswatter solution to a technical challenge in the status quo of Marion recreation.

Thankfully, key figures have now agreed to provide time enough not just to cobble together a new and potentially costly bureaucracy but more important to actually ponder not just the challenge of continuing but rather the opportunity it poses to improve upon what’s already there.

Compared to neighboring communities, Marion does in fact offer what appears to be considerably fewer recreational activities, especially outside the world of sports. The fault doesn’t appear to be with those programming rec but rather with a lack of resources, in turn attributable to previous actions that appeared to be the results of previous attempts to cobble something together.

The important thing now is to remember that cobbling rarely works. First you need a vision. That’s where we are now, studying what’s possible. Then you need a means to reach that vision. What you don’t want to do is try to create means without ends or to cobble together yet another solution that merely protects personal interests of those involved.

Few would question that Marion’s current rec director is both well-loved and admirably dedicated. We owe her our loyalty and fairness. But when considering what to do with rec, we must separate our concerns for her from those for the system they will maintain, and we must start with a goal before attempting to create a bureaucracy to achieve it. We hope our story helps.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified June 3, 2015

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