A few weeks ago, a couple of misconceptions reported by two other news media surfaced in this valley, requiring a bit of correction. Three things jumped out at me:

First, the Arkansas Valley Publishing group reported that they are the only news media regularly sending reporters to cover county and municipal meetings. Not true. Both Ark Valley Voice (AVV) and Heart of the Rockies Radio cover county and municipal meetings.

Ark Valley Voice has reporters physically covering the city of Salida, the towns of Buena Vista and Poncha Springs, Chaffee County government, both the Salida and Buena Vista School Districts and Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center. We do not read other news media’s stories to write our coverage – we write our own. While we don’t (yet) maintain a full-time person at district court, we do cover select court cases.

Second, Ark Valley Voice believes that people have a right to news and information to make their decisions and shape their own opinions. While our worthy competitor went to lengths to justify its subscription cost, Ark Valley Voice is free to the public.  News media business models are evolving. Ours isn’t perfect by any means. Which is why our modest advertising schedule is important to our effort. So are donations, and so soon, will be our association with the Colorado Media Project, among other professional organizations.

(Photo courtesy of Stanford News)

Ark Valley Voice is 18 months old and growing. Associated with our organization are 16 hard-working people in a combination of hourly staff  and stringers. In total, our coverage hours each week equal to roughly seven FTE (full-time equivalents), and we are hiring. We don’t just cover government and community news, we do investigative reporting, diving deeper into issues and topics that Arkansas River Valley residents and visitors have a right to know.

Ark Valley Voice’s geographic readership stretches across the entire county and well beyond this valley into Fremont, Park, Custer, Lake and Saguache Counties, with a healthy base of second homeowners and visitors from the Front Range, and across several states.

In testimony to that, Google News has picked up Ark Valley Voice (www.arkvalleyvoice.com ) as a news source. More than half of our readers access us on their mobile phones – carrying their “news source” in their pockets.

Third, regarding AVV’s news coverage – while some might say that any coverage could be considered good coverage, Martha Quillen, in a recent Colorado Central Magazine (Great publication, I’ve written for it, and I read it.) took issue with our article written by Dan Smith, regarding the Envision Survey of Chaffee County residents. Smith’s piece reported the factual findings of the survey. It did not reflect the opinions of the writer, or those of Ark Valley Voice.

I surely respect and uphold Quillen’s right to voice her opinion. But I noticed her comments appeared to be Salida-centric, rather than reflective of the survey range — which was the entire county in which we all live and work, folks. Her comments appear to look backward – quoting people who wish things to remain as they were 50 years ago. That is not possible anywhere, let alone in Colorado which is an inbound migration state, or in an inbound migration county such as Chaffee. The fact is – things change. Life is constant change. We either adjust and contribute to a community where lives might be different, but also positive, or we don’t.

I understand the fear of change, but the opposite of fear is understanding. The ability to listen to each other — to acknowledge “humanness” in all of us — is what builds tolerance for those who may be or think differently from us.  Fundamentally I believe we all hope for the same things – to live peacefully, to give our children a better life, to find purpose and relevancy, to be good people. This does not need to happen at the cost of another.

One further thought. “Community” is what I euphemistically refer to as “a willingness to cooperate and support each other in a shared space.” It’s an active noun that has to be practiced to become alive. Each of us contributes a piece to that puzzle. I grew up in a rural Wisconsin farming community which struggled to welcome and accept newcomers and strangers. We were “country,” most of them were “city.” They had higher education; for the most part, we did not.  We were Lutheran. They were — whatever. I saw the school system, our church, and the town six miles away change because it had to. When I go back now, it is a different place – not better, not worse, just different.