Editorials should influence

Frank Robinson

  Editorials are generally written to sway opinion. They have a great tradition in American journalism.
  It is our desire through our editorial page to create a dialogue with our readers and to offer and receive input on issues that face our community.
  There are many issues that need to be addressed in our city and county, among them the need for more younger men and women to become involved not only in public service, but also in civic efforts such as the United Way, the Chamber of Commerce, our schools, etc.
  Someone has said that men in rank will stay in rank simply because they do not have the ability to get things done. It's easy to criticize, and even easier to do nothing and say nothing. Those who muddle the water and take a stand often become unpopular. However, they are the people who generally get things done.
  Right now, we need some of those people to move to the front of the line and take the lead, so to speak, on some issues. Two very pressing issues where some positive, and urgent, action is needed are the Historic Covered Bridge and the ET & WNC Railroad. The Covered Bridge is our number one tourist attraction, but take a good look at it. While badly-needed renovation work has been done to the bridge's interior and new guard railings erected, the exterior puts us to shame. The bridge needs a new paint job as well as some "fixing" here and there. New interior lighting is needed as well as a pigeon net. Have we lost pride in our heritage and the landmarks that have been a part of this town far longer than any of us?
  Also, if someone doesn't act soon, we will lose the ET & WNC Railroad. It will be gone forever once the tracks are taken up, and that could happen within the next year. The railroad has great potential. Though we are no longer an industrial community, the railroad is not only a link to the past, but it could very well be a link to our future and the growth of this community. It also has potential for development as a tourist attraction. We hope our city and county leadership will realize the value of the railroad and make an earnest effort to save it.
  In a postscript to my front page statement last week on the liquor-by-the-drink issue, I received several responses - more positive than negative.
  During my more than 50 years in the newspaper business, we have from time to time taken an unpopular stand and offended many in the process. Liquor-by-the-drink is one of those issues that tends to divide a community.
  I do understand why some people are violently opposed to alcohol, especially if they have had to live with an abusive spouse or parent who suffered from alcoholism, or if they have lost a child in a car wreck because of a drunken driver. To these people, alcohol is a fighting word, and nothing we say would cause them to change their beliefs.
  And, to the ministers who have written to us, we appreciate you and the work you do in the community. We would be disappointed if the stand you took were any different.
  We respect the people who have rebuked us. However, the editorial page is not about winning a popularity contest. It is about taking a stand - right or wrong, and when we disagree, respecting each other's opinion.
  That is not to say that I am right and you are wrong, or vice versa. And, I hope that if and when we are wrong, we would have the courage and common sense to admit it. I also hope that we will always be open-minded and seek to learn from each other.
  One last thought: Remember to vote Tuesday, Nov. 2. Polls open at 8 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.