Confehr: Light from torch may stop fire

Friday, October 9, 2009

There was a terrific editorial cartoon in the Nashville Banner that rang true with me years ago in another town and it seems suitable now that National Newspaper Week is coming to an end.

Oct. 4-10 is also National Fire Prevention Week and we'll get to that, as well as point out that news about firefighters and their comrades are a significant part of this edition of the Marshall County Tribune.

The cartoon showed a woman wearing a flack jacket, combat boots and a helmet while holding her camera and reporter's notebook. Her editor says she's going into hostile territory. Iraq? No, she's going to a school board meeting.

Strong feelings arise when the news and other events affect children. We don't want to be in the crossfire. Nevertheless, here are comments from a grandmother who called. They were held for a Friday column such as this.

Too bad last week's column was written before the grandmother called about Stan Curtis who was fired from his job as schools director this week.

"It's like you've got to die before somebody says something nice about you," she said. "If we lost him, we'd lose somebody who's very good for our children... Dr. Curtis cares about the kids."

One of her kids had trouble. Curtis spoke with the teen for an hour. They connected and an attitude was adjusted. Subsequently, youthful events were reported. Granny said the teen tried to do right in a bad situation and things happened.

The situation illustrated a human-interest story. The child wasn't named, but Granny came to the newsroom. Those places aren't too much like social service agencies, and it seemed clear that Curtis was the man for the job. He was called and accepted a request to explain some of the world to a boy who needs that.

"I don't agree with Dr. Curtis on one thing," the grandmother said during her call early last week, "but there's so much more that I agree with him about."

Disagreements were reported before difficult decisions were made in recent weeks. They were when spending plan for schools and other institutions were adjusted for the county budget. The most recent change was to restore a level of funding for grants to volunteer fire departments.

Again, there are different views on how something should be done and they've been reported here.

Strong, kindhearted men and women work hard to save lives and property. They deserve support as do the rest of our public agencies.

They have good advice for our wellbeing. Changing batteries in smoke detectors when the time changes Nov. 1 is good advice.

It's one simple thing. There's more available at chili suppers at fire halls when good conversation across a folding table might save life, limb, property, and childhood memories.

Reading to a child, or just reading the newspaper is another good idea.

This year's Newspaper Week slogan is "Newspapers: Carrying the Torch of Freedom." As privately owned businesses - outside government - newspapers have a precious power guaranteed by the First Amendment. It continues to serve the public.