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2018 Southeast Colroado Regional Graduation Edition

| News


The Kiowa County Independent would like to congratulate the area 2018 graduates.  You can find a hard copy of this spread in the May 16, 2018 edition of the Kiowa County Independent newspaper in many mailboxes of the area (of the schools featured), and all over Kiowa County!  If you like what you see, please subscribe to our paper so that you can enjoy similar content weekly! Subscribe here.

Amazon and Small Businesses: Friend or Foe?

| Priscilla Waggoner | News
Recently, Jeff Bezos and Amazon became the latest target of Trump Tweets for, among other things, the negative impact the mega online retailer has had on shopping malls and brick-and-mortar Main Street businesses. While some pundits claim Trump’s true motivation for the Tweets was anger for unfavorable  coverage from the Washington Post, also owned by Bezos, the content of Trump’s criticism has put a very important question in the marketplace of public opinion.

Republican Candidate for Governor Greg Lopez Discusses Life, Issues With EHS Students

| Priscilla Waggoner | News
When Greg Lopez walked into Dawn James’ Civics class last Thursday and began a conversation with the students, his connection with the kids—and their enthusiastic response--would have led one to believe he was a teacher or, maybe, even one of the parents. Not so.

Rural Philanthropy Days Coming to Southeastern Colorado

| Priscilla Waggoner | News
If you or someone you know happens to work with a non-profit organization located in Southeastern Colorado, this is an article you need to pay attention to.  Seriously.
Rural Philanthropy Days (aka RPD) is going to be held in Lamar from June 13th to the 15th, and this is not an opportunity any non-profit should miss.

Crossing the Continental Divide

| Priscilla Waggoner | News
Okay. Bad news first.  (Hang with me on this. It’s an American tale, which means that there’s always the possibility of a happy ending.)

Eads School Board Approves All Personnel Contracts for 2018-2019

| Betsy Barnett | News
The Eads School Board met in regular session on Monday night and approved all contracts for the 2018-2019 school year including the approval of non-probationary, probationary, administrative, coaching, unclassified and classified personnel.  The board also accepted the resignation of para-professional Lindsey Barlow who will join a new training program at SE BOCES as a school guidance counselor.  The district will more than likely be looking at a full-time para position; and possibly two depending on what the need of the students will be next year.

Members of the Family of Crazy Horse coming to Lamar Public Library, A Journey of Truth

| Priscilla Waggoner | News
No matter where we live, no matter what language we speak or religion we follow, no matter our age, our education, our income, the color of our skin or any of those things that seem to separate us from one another, there is, nonetheless, one thing that connects us all as human beings. 

That one thing is stories.

From the time that pictures were drawn on rocks to the time when language was first spoken, human beings have told and listened to stories, and we continue to hear them and tell them every day.

Stories fill our lives. Sometimes, they fill our hearts.  And, sometimes, a story is so good that it belongs on the front page of a newspaper.

Notes from the Emergency Manager for Fire Season

| Priscilla Waggoner | News
Given the current climate (literally), the Independent thought it would be advisable to get an update from the office of Kiowa County Emergency Management regarding the county’s state of preparedness. 

Witte, Votruba Both Running for KCFPD Board Positions

| Priscilla Waggoner | News
NOTE FROM THE EDITOR:  The April 25th edition of the Kiowa County Independent included an in-depth feature article on the experience of Zach Kopasz, a hotshot wildland firefighter who resides in Kiowa County.  Kopasz is also running for a board position in the upcoming election. 
It has been the long standing policy of the Independent to not endorse candidates.  “Taking the Heat” was not an exception to that policy.  Nonetheless, this week, the staff at the Independent felt it was only fair to provide some insight into the other two candidates running for the board—again, not as an endorsement of any kind but more in an endeavor to be fair and equal in our coverage of this important election. 

Taking The Heat

| Priscilla Waggoner | News
Last week, when multiple fires were igniting and winds were fanning an already bad situation, an attention grabbing post appeared on social media that asked a 3 word question in big, bold, almost panicked letters. It simply said, “WHERE’S THE FIRE?”

Great Plains New Wildfire Frontier

| Priscilla Waggoner | News
In the early afternoon of Tuesday, April 17, a fire started near the town of Walsh in Baca County, Colorado.   The conditions couldn’t have been worse for what was soon referred to as the Badger Hole Fire.  The county is in severe drought. The high temperature that day was 84 degrees, a full 17 degrees above average for this time of year.

Election for Two Fire District Board Members

| Priscilla Waggoner | News
With numerous prospects to vote on the horizon and the Kiowa County Fire Prevention Board only recently being created, we thought it was a good idea to give a heads up about the upcoming election.

Republicans and Democrats Find Some Common Ground and it's all about Hemp

| Betsy Barnett | News
Last year the Independent ran a series of articles about the miracle plant called hemp.  Most people, at that time, had a distinct opinion of the plant associating it with marijuana, or like marijuana, or just plain illegal.  We spent many editions defining and describing hemp and showing our readers the amazing benefits hemp represents.

Editorial: Truth Matters

| Priscilla Waggoner | News
This editorial is written in recognition of National Journalism Week, April 16 – 20, 2018

These days, life in the U.S. has taken on a pervasive air of disposability.  If something doesn’t suit our purposes, if we don’t like it or it makes us uncomfortable, there’s a simple solution: throw it out.  Find something that we “like” better, something that makes us “feel” better, something that is more convenient.

That may work with rubber bands or ballpoint pens. 

It doesn’t work with the truth.

When we, as both individuals and a society, stop valuing the importance of truth and begin to believe that it can be stretched or wrapped in a way that suits our purposes without damaging its integrity, we eventually lose our grasp on what is actually true and what is not.  Once that happens, we’re immediately vulnerable to manipulation and control by those with great strength and power.  And, as history has shown over and over again, we can end up—sometimes for years—believing things are one way when, in reality, they’re something else entirely.

Take the tobacco industry.  For years, big tobacco companies sold cigarettes to the public with phrases like “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby” or—my favorite—“Most doctors prefer to smoke Camels”. Meanwhile, the companies downplayed (or ignored) the addictive properties of tobacco.  Who can forget that image from the mid-90s of the CEOs of the seven biggest tobacco companies testifying (under oath and before Congress) that cigarettes were not addictive?

Uh…no.  Sorry, boys.  Ain’t buyin’ it. 

Another slap-you-in-the-face case involves opioids.  When pharmaceutical companies first started marketing opioids to doctors to prescribe for their patients, they emphasized the drugs’ effectiveness in treating pain and, despite what seems to be evidence from the beginning, deliberately downplayed their highly addictive nature. In fact, some companies claimed that certain opioids were actually anti-addictive.  So, doctors—in good faith—prescribed them to their patients, and patients—in good faith—took them as ordered.  By the time the truth was revealed, the country had a $500 billion problem with addiction.  If there had been no one there to break that story—that is, to proclaim that truth—and put the issue on the public radar, the situation would have gone undetected for longer than it already did.

Without knowledge of the truth, people are not informed. People who are not informed are also not empowered.

The founders of this country (some pretty astonishing guys) established a system where the power held by the 3 branches of government—legislative, executive and judicial—was checked by the other 2 branches.  But there was one “institution” that kept them all in check, and that was the press or, as it’s now called, the media.  In fact, the press is so essential to democracy that some of the founding fathers referred to it as the “fourth branch of government”.

And now, the news is in the news.  The media is under attack, and it’s coming from a number of different directions.

Financially, it’s a tough business.  Operating a newspaper, even at the local level, is an expensive proposition.  The paper relies on attracting readers and then relies on those readers to respond to the ads the newspaper runs along with the content.  Lots of places for problems along that line.  The same holds true for network television and cable. 

There’s also a lot more competition, especially from the internet.  Anyone with a camera, a link and the ability to put together a few words that make a sentence can set up shop as a “news source”, and the average Joe cruising the web has literally no idea if what he’s reading is accurate or not.  And, frankly, finding out takes more time and effort than most people have or are willing to spend.

But the most concerning threat to the press is the undermining of the press’ legitimacy for reporting the truth.

There’s no doubt that, in many ways, the press is harming itself.  When a media outlet—doesn’t matter if it’s conservative or liberal, both sides are guilty—gives voice to journalists who are biased or to people who present themselves as journalists but are really just commentators presenting their opinion and calling it “news”, the public’s trust has been betrayed.  Absolutely.  And those media outlets must hold themselves—and each other--accountable.

But the term “fake news” has dealt some heavy, far reaching blows.  “Fake” news is, by definition, news that someone is fabricating and has no basis in truth.  Granted, it’s always been around. No one read the headline “Hundred and twenty year old woman gives birth to alien quadruplets” with a hand drawn picture of some little, wrinkled old woman holding four one-eyed little babies with antennae sticking out of their ears and actually took the story as fast breaking news.

Unfortunately, more and more, “fake news” is being applied to unwelcome news, and that’s a vital distinction that must not be missed. When people begin to believe that news they don’t want to hear is the same as news that isn’t true—a sentiment often reflected in the statement “I don’t believe anything I read in the news anymore”—people start to seek out “news” that is comfortable, is more suited to their purposes and makes them feel better.  

And that’s a potentially dangerous tool in the hands of the wrong people.

The vast majority of journalists want to report on the truth.  They will research a story from a number of different angles, talk to a minimum of two reliable and independent sources, will check their facts numerous times and, in big organizations, work with people whose entire job is confirming statements made to the press.  Are mistakes made sometimes?  Of course.  But there is a world of difference between mistakes and sweeping condemnation of the media as “fake news”, which encourages people to, literally, throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Those of us who work for and with the Kiowa County Independent do our very best to be fair, objective and truthful in our reporting.  When covering the news, we will spend—no exaggeration—numerous hours researching a story, making sure that we’re looking at it from all angles and then reporting the truth of what we’ve learned in a way that’s relevant to the lives of our readers.  If we’re running an editorial, we identify it as such.  If we’re presenting an idea or what we see as a potential solution to a problem, we go to extra effort to make it clear that we are presenting exactly that—an idea—for readers to consider and then decide on its merit themselves.  And, if we whiff on a story and misrepresent the situation, we count on our readers to hold us accountable.

The newspaper is a community effort and, hopefully, the community benefits from what we do. After all, we live here, too.  The way we view it, we’re all in this together.  

Seven Generations and the Life of Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell

| Priscilla Waggoner | News
It was a cool, clear morning last Thursday when a small group of people began to gather on Maine Street. The wind was due to pick up, prompting the warning that any fire that got started would be difficult to contain. But thoughts of danger had no place that morning, for the hint of dew that hung in the stillness seemed to be an omen of a good day to come.