I have been in the newspaper business going on four years now. If I remember correctly the first article I ever wrote for a paper ran the last week of September, 2013. I was just a stringer at the time, though i’m not sure that is the correct term for it. I had just graduated from UALR in May, along with my daughter, Bethany. Ironically, we were the lead story at six and ten on KTHV, channel 11. We were the news because we were a mother and daughter graduating on the same day. I must say it was pretty cool. A few months later I had an idea for a series of articles and broached then editor, Stephanie Fischer (now Prislovsky) with my idea. She encouraged me to go for it. Some ten articles later I see an ad for a reporter at the same paper, the Stuttgart Daily Leader. Now, I studied Professional and Technical Writing and never took one Journalism class. I did, however, take every editing class offered at UALR. I like to say that I kind of fell into journalism.

One of the things I love about working in the newspaper business is attending events like the event Cleburne County Fair. I met some really great people, both young and old. The youngsters at the fair are some of the most well behaved and polite kids I have ever met! Having never seen kids (or adults) showing livestock, I was truly impressed! Some of the kids were very young and the livestock they showed, very big, but you would never thought for a minute that the kids were not in control of their animal. My hat is off to these kids and to their parents as well!

I had the honor of being a judge for the pie contest on Thursday, which was also Senior Citizen’s day. County Judge Jerry Holmes, State Rep. Josh Miller and Bob Connell of 106.1 Timeless radio station were also judges. Fifteen pies sat waiting on us to try them, and we did! When our votes were averaged and tallied, the winner wa Sue Seymour with her Frozen Caramel, Coconut, Pecan pie. Talk about delicious! It was my favorite from the first bite. Second place was a tie between Dottie Johnson’s Apple Pie which, according to Johnson, “I just threw it together the night before from memory to be sure we would have enough pies.” And Susan Brewster’s Stars and Stripes Cherry Pie, Brewster is part of the reigning Farm Family of the Year, she was also the winner of several Best of Show awards in the Home Economics Building.

I have to say a big thank you to Sharon at the Cleburne County Aging Program for asking me to be a judge and to Frank Evans, Fair manager for making me feel so welcome! I can't wait til next year!

Now on a more serious note, part of a newspapers responsibility is to inform the public and with a lot of help from my “bulldog” reporter, Jacque Martin, we do this. Sometimes the stories are controversial, sometimes people aren't happy when we inform them about issues they may not know about. Such as the upcoming millage election for the Heber Springs School District. There is also a school board election, but only one person running. This could very well be because I was not informed (and neither was the public) that school board seats were becoming vacant. To me, this should be an area where someone, either in the district administration or the election commission, should be responsible to make the public aware of the openings, the filing deadlines and the election dates and times. All I can say is I was never told about any of this. Had a Reader not come to me and asked the paper to find out about this issue, the public would have been kept in the dark. That is just wrong. The school board is supposed to be elected by the people, not appointed by friends who are already on the board. Yet if a seat is vacant and no one runs for it (because they don't know they can) it is my understanding someone is then appointed. That is not democracy, that is what is known as “the good ole boys network”. As history has shown, that is not the best thing for a community and certainly not for a school district,

As parents of children in the Heber Springs School District you owe it to your children and your community to become informed on the issues. Jacque Martin has spent, I don’t know how many hours researching for her articles on the millage. While they may be a little lengthy, they are very informative. We have been accused of being biased, but the facts are not biased and bias has no place in an article. An opinion column is another story. Be an informed voter, if you don’t want to read Jacque’s articles, do the research yourself, all the information that you need to make an informed decision is available online. Early voting begins this week and the election is on September 19. Get informed and get out and vote!