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Van Horn Advocate


August 18, 1997


Rick Smith

Don't tell me not
to write about it!

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Some people just don't seem to understand what a newspaper is all about, or not about.

A newspaper is not a public relations tool for governmental agencies in the community, although most newspapers, the Pecos Enterprise included, do more to promote a community than any other entity in the community.

Newspapers are not printed to only disseminate information that the powers that be approve of and want the public to know.

Newspapers are intended to inform the public about matters that concern and affect them, with a little entertainment thrown in for good measure.

There seems to be a continual battle between newspapers and those in power about what should be printed. Currently, police agencies are trying to get legislation passed that would forbid newspapers access to information about traffic accidents that occur on public streets and highways.

This year Texas chambers of commerces asked Attorney General Dan Morales if chamber meetings fall under the provisions of the state's Open Meetings Act. Morales decided that such bodies are not subject to the act even though they spend tax payers' dollars. So apparently, chambers of commerces in the state can hold secret meetings, which exclude both the public and the press, to decide what to do with monies they receive such as revenues from hotel/motel taxes.

This lack of understanding about newspapers seems to be especially prevalent in Pecos, although certainly it is not limited to this city. During more than one public meeting of a council or board here I have had authorities of those bodies turn to me and demand "that's not for publication." I've got news for them. If it occurs during a public meeting the public has a right to know about it, period.

On more than one occasion I've sent our reporters out to find out about some goings on and had them return only to tell me, "They don't want us to write about that." My reply usually is, "We are not asking them for permission to write about it."

Now, there are times when newspapers should hold back a little. I don't think names of victims of such crimes as rape always need to be published. There are other times when a story has to be reported carefully to avoid hurting an innocent person involved with the story. Sometimes the timing has to be right in reporting about governmental dealings with private business in order to benefit the community.

But in all instances, its up to the newspaper personnel to determine what is news and what is not. It is never up to some person who is over-impressed with his or her position in life who thinks they know best what should be in the newspaper and what the public should know.

One of the surest ways to get me to write about something is to tell me I can't write about it. Unless you're my boss, but that's a different topic.

Editor's Note: Rick Smith is an Enterprise writer and city editor whose column appears each Monday.


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Pollution is worldwide; needs to be corrected

The need for aid to Mexico in dealing with their problems is most obvious in our part of the world.

What we have reference to is pollution and the environment. Most everyone has heard reports on how bad the air is in Mexico City - breathing the air there is said to be equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes per day.

Now, that pollution can be seen coming into West Texas, particularly in the Big Bend region and even as far as Guadalupe Peak. The skies are no longer as clear as they were just a few years ago.

Mexico City is now the largest city in the world with many residents living in cardboard "houses", no running water and few sewer systems. It is obvious that our government needs to work with the Mexican government to help deal with these problems.

Pollution along the Texas-Mexico border is also well documented and that needs to be addressed as it is affecting the health and welfare of citizens on both sides of the border.

Pollution is a worldwide problem and it needs to be addressed. Our government has made great strides in that area and we should share our knowledge to help preserve our earth and its people.

Projects on Pecos river touted for progress

Progress on the Pecos River, like the river itself, never seems to move in a straight line. But two projects which members of the Red Bluff Water Power Control District have been working on for years could become a reality over the next several months.

General Manager Jim Ed Miller told Red Bluff board members on Monday the district is awaiting a vote in September by the Carlsbad City Council on rights to run a line away from Malaga Bend to man-made lakes, which would be used to store water removed from a salt spring which feeds into the Pecos River just north of the New Mexico state line.

The plan would improve the quality of water in Red Bluff Lake, which is used by farmers downstream along the river, while salt from the spring would be purchased by Sun West Salt Corp., under an agreement reached earlier with the Red Bluff board.

Miller also said an experimental project in New Mexico to reduce the number of water-hungry salt cedars along the Pecos River could be extended to Texas in the near future. State agriculture and parks and wildlife officials are scheduled to be in Pecos next month to view the salt cedar problem, and Pecos River Compact Commissioner Brad Newton is hoping to show them the success New Mexico has achieved with their project south of Artesia.

Replacement of the salt cedars, which arrived along the Pecos less than 100 years ago, with trees and grasses native to the area may greatly increase the water flow along the river, since one salt cedar can take in up to 200 gallons of water a day.

Improving the water quality and increasing the water supply to the Pecos Valley can provide a boost to the area's agriculture industry in the near future. It might even raise recreational use of the Pecos River, which is far less utilized by people here than around Carlsbad and Artesia.

With two state bureaucracies to deal with, not to mention state and federal environmental laws to worry about, Miller, Newton and other Red Bluff officials have had plenty of red tape to deal with while trying to solve the salt and the salt cedar problems. They should be congratulated for getting far enough to finally see a little light at the end of the tunnel.

Pecos Enterprise
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium. Neither these AP Materials nor any portion thereof may be stored in a computer except for personal and non-commercial use. The AP will not be held liable for any delays, inaccuracies, errors or omissions therefrom or in the transmission or delivery of all or any part thereof or for any damages arising from any of the foregoing.

Copyright 1997 by Pecos Enterprise
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