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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: Covering sensitive situations

by R. HANS MILLER
Managing Editor | March 1, 2024 1:30 AM

MOSES LAKE — In recent editions of the Columbia Basin Herald, we're covered two delicate topics that require a great deal of empathy, compassion and thought to handle correctly. Those are the topics of bullying and the death of a student, Jett Johnson, who attended Ephrata High School. 

We covered bullying issues at Frontier Middle School and the Moses Lake School District’s policies and practices regarding that issue in the past few weeks. 

We know there is a great deal more coverage to consider with the bullying issue and we will continue to keep an eye on it and the impacts it has in all of the communities the paper serves. We appreciate the administrators, parents and students who have given us insight and information, even in off-the-record discussions, and we are committed to doing whatever we can to provide tools for students, parents and administrators to mitigate the issue. We will be writing stories for each of the school districts we cover to make sure families have the information they need to act when bullying arises. 

The other is a much more personal issue. When I got the news that Jett had passed away in a car accident, I knew the paper needed to do something to support the family and the Ephrata community as a whole. I reached out to Ephrata School District Public Information Officer Sarah Morford to discuss possible ideas, and she immediately helped me connect with his amazing mother, Heidi, and multiple Ephrata Schools staff. I have since heard an amazing number of wonderful remembrances of Jett. It makes me wish I’d known him. Everyone I spoke to got choked up on some level, but all of them had a bit of a laugh at a wonderful memory with an amazing young man. I hope my writing did some justice to his memory and that, in the long run, it helps the community heal and remember Jett’s wonderful presence in their lives and the joy he brought them. 

It is humbling to be able to do the work we do here at the Columbia Basin Herald. Humbling to have access to people during some of their most difficult times. Humbling to be welcomed and to be able to honor someone like Jett or help provide tools to help children avoid being bullied or becoming a bully. 

Thank you to everyone involved for their support, trust, kindness and appreciation.

With great respect,

R. Hans “Rob” Miller

Managing Editor