Wednesday, April 24, 2024

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: It takes a village…

Managing Editor | April 2, 2024 12:58 PM

EPHRATA — We’ve all heard the old saying telling us that it “takes a village to raise a child” or some similar paraphrase. After my experience last Thursday with the We Are Ephrata Town Hall, I’d have to say that it’s also important to note that it takes a village to raise a town.

Joining me on stage as I moderated the town hall were eight people dedicated to their community. A city council member and Ephrata Chamber of Commerce board member (Valli Millard), a hospital safety and facilities director (Javier Meraz), a sheriff (Joey Kriete), mayor (Bruce Reim), fire chief (Jeremy Burns), police chief (Erik Koch), port director (David Lanman) and a – as of this coming fall – school superintendent (Ken Murray). 

Each of the people on that stage spoke with knowledge and care for the community they serve and were open about what Ephrata needs as it works through the growing pains every town goes through as it evolves from big town to small city to whatever else the future holds. 

Additionally, I was pleased with the turnout for the inaugural event. Fifty people attended for the duration with others coming for portions of the presentation. As we move forward with town halls in other communities in Grant and Adams counties and the next We Are Ephrata event in 2025, I’m hopeful that number will grow. 

I truly appreciate the members of the panel for their willingness to speak to the community and be open about some of the challenges and opportunities Ephrata is facing. 

I also have a deep appreciation for those who joined us as audience members. Those folks showed that they want to be involved and informed in the city’s future. For some, it’s because they have children or grandchildren they hope will call Ephrata home, and for others, they’re new to the area and want to know what’s up. Every person had a different reason for being there. 

In the end though, it all came down to one thing — they want to ensure Ephrata is “raised right.” That vision probably varies person to person, but that’s how every community in the U.S. and even the state and nation are designed to work. 

As a History minor in college, one of my favorite topics to explore was our founding fathers’ notion of the “marketplace of ideas.” It’s part of why the First Amendment — printed every day in the paper on A2 — is so vital for our nation and communities. We take the best ideas we have to offer on a personal or even organizational level, throw them into the proverbial pot, skim off the dross and keep the best part of what’s left to move forward. All ideas, even those we don’t agree with or are a bit bazaar get thrown in. They facilitate discussion and help us generate more ideas, even if they’re rejected. It’s all about moving discussions forward to find the best ideas we can, implement them and come together.

That doesn’t happen easily from a couch or on social media, given the echo chambers our homes and social media feeds tend to become. It comes from having dialogue with our neighbors, leaders, friends, political opponents and others. That happens in person. That happens best when we have some context for the situation at hand. That happens when we care enough to discuss things civilly and with an open mind to make life better for ourselves, our families, our neighbors and our communities as a whole. 

That’s what that audience showed me last Thursday. Despite our divided opinions on policies and politics, there are people that care enough to step forward and be involved in making the future bright. 

I may have had the spotlight shining on my bald head, but the audience lit up the room with community, and I just felt like I ought to thank them for that.

We’ll be holding more town halls as the Columbia Basin Herald moves forward into the rest of 2024 and beyond. I hope you’ll join us. 

Also — special thanks to the TigerVision students for helping us broadcast the town hall on YouTube. I’d also like to thank the panelists and the staff at the city, school district, hospital, chamber and sheriff’s office who helped ensure the presentation was ready in a timely manner. And last but by no means least — thank you to Cheryl Schweizer, Ian Bivona, Gabriel Davis and Joel Martin, my editorial team here at the Herald who dug in and supported me as I worked feverishly to pull all of the last minute bits together to make the town hall happen.

With gratitude,

R. Hans Miller

Managing Editor