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One of the first things someone told me when I started to drive was, “Be careful what kind of stickers you put on you car. They say a lot about the person driving.”

I hadn’t thought about that valuable life lesson in quite sometime until four, bold, white letters brought it back to me during my morning commute.

I’d say my bumper sticker choices are conservative — a Wyoming bucking bronc to pay tribute to the home state I still love and a billy goat signifying we’re outdoor enthusiasts.

I guess I wasn’t always as conservative about my choices, but the craziest I ever got was pasting Janis Joplin on the glass of my hatchback.

The young man I encountered today needs to be taught the lesson I learned because it’s true, people do judge a person by the bumper stickers on the back of the car. Whether the stickers are political or recreational, positive or negative, you don’t want someone to know your entire life story after following you home from the store.

The man I saw today looked like he was in his 20s, and he appeared to be heading to Sedona from the Cottonwood area. He drove a nice truck that appeared to be well cared for, but for some reason I don’t think I could ever understand, this young man chose to stencil a curse word that starts with ‘f’ and isn’t fudge on the back of his truck above the decal. If that doesn’t scream, “Pull me over because I’m a punk,” I don’t know what does.

Granted, he was young, but so am I and youth shouldn’t be an excuse for not maintaining common decency.

I was reminded last week we aren’t the only newspapers that don’t run every letter to the editor we receive verbatim when my publisher handed me an e-mail highlighting some basics of publishing letters.

The e-mail outlines excerpts from “Community Journalism/A Way of Life,” by Bruce Kennedy, regarding letters to the editor.

The excerpt says, “Print all the sincere letters you receive, bud don’t feel obligated to print those which are more interested in personally attacking the editor than in making a point.”

We have, however, printed letters in the past that have done just that to reassure our readers that just because they don’t agree with us doesn’t mean we are going to ignore their opinion. We do draw the line when we feel it's over the top and we either omit the offensive section or decide not to print the letter.

Kennedy continues, “Or those from the letter writer who keeps sending letter after letter.”

We do receive numerous letters from the same individuals and we don’t print all of them. We select which we feel best address our demographic and hold onto the others to print at a later date if possible. Everyone deserves a chance to be heard in the opinion section so we work to ensure a few writers don’t monopolize the opinion page. If we have the room, we will run a multiple letters written by a single person within a few weeks of each other, but we try to space them out.

The excerpt concludes, “Don’t hesitate to cut the letter’s length if you can do it without ruining the intent.”

A good journalist isn’t wordy when it comes to his or her writing. We get straight to the point and use a limited number of adjectives — that’s the style of the craft.

The general public, on the other hand, writes the way they were taught in school, which includes flowery, repetitive language — a journalist’s worst nightmare. Keep that in mind when you send us a 500-word letter and then see it appear in the paper under 300 words, which is our limit for letters to the editor. We can find words to cut some writers aren’t aware are even in the letter. I can't stand seeing the word “that” peppered unnecessarily throughout any type of writing. I would guess 90 percent of the time a person uses “that,” it is not necessary.

So next time you send a letter to the editor keep in mind:

  • We receive many letters every week and often cannot fit them all on Page 4 immediately after they come in. Be patient and your letter will likely appear on the page at a later date.
  • If a letter you submitted a few weeks earlier appeared in the paper, the second letter isn’t very likely to make it in.
  • The limit is 300 words and we will cut them to fit the criteria.
  • Be polite. The opinion section isn’t meant to be a forum for picking on anybody.
  • Requests to run letters exactly as they are submitted will not be granted. We’re editors. We edit everything, including ourselves.

If you have any other questions regarding letters to the editor, click on submissions on the home page for quick answers or contact the newsroom.

Saturday, April 17, was a beautiful day to run in the Brian Mickelsen memorial race.

I joined hundreds of other Verde Valley and Northern Arizona residents taking advantage of an opportunity to exercise with others. Events such as this race — which honors the memory of the late Cottonwood city manager — encourage people in our communities to be more active.

I jog, but don’t consider myself a competitive runner, and I wasn’t alone. I saw the race as a chance to encourage myself and others to exercise.

You don’t have to be a marathon runner to take up jogging. You can enjoy the health benefits associated with regular physical activity simply by lacing up a pair of tennis shoes a couple days a week and heading outside.

I plan to again participate in the race next year, and I vow to run a little faster.

As your readers are well aware, property taxes continue to rise with no end in sight. I am an 82-year-old widow on a fixed income and have paid a large amount of taxes in my lifetime, with little complaining, but have reached the point of speaking out.

I have no objection to paying taxes for education, fire department, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System/Arizona Long Term Care System, the library tax, etc., but I am being assessed $1,184 a year for the Camp Verde Sanitary District, and get this, I have never had access to its service, and am told I never will have in my lifetime. [I live on Salt Mine Road.]

“Taxation without representation” was one of the main reasons our forefathers left England. The amount the sanitary district is charging me is almost one half my total tax bill.

Another unhelpful fact for me is despite the big drop in property values the last few years, my property’s evaluation is so high I’m not even eligible for a widow’s exemption. Where is the justice? What will happen if I refuse to pay the sanitary district portion of my bill? Any ideas, people?

— Bertha E. Monroe

Camp Verde

I would like to thank the many people who contributed to the success of our recent fourth annual Matt Showers Memorial Track Meet. Many people including parents, students, grandparents and friends, over 30 volunteers in all, helped make this event a success.

The love and support from our friends and community for this event has always been fantastic. We were able to raise almost $2,000 for the Matt Showers Memorial scholarship fund, which benefits young people from Camp Verde High School. Also thanks to our booster club and to the local company that donated the medals for our meet. Lori and I are blessed to live in such a caring community. Thanks again.

— Mark Showers and Lori Showers

Camp Verde High School

School unification is a bad idea overall. Ostensibly it was proposed in order to save money, which is a good idea. But offsetting those savings by giving elementary teachers $10,000 raises during our current economic crises is absurd. Change the law requiring matching salaries first.

Furthermore, haven’t we been down this road several times before, with the plan being rejected by the voters? Also, more centralized human administration is not a good thing. We definitely need local control, rather than orders from Washington or Arizona or Yavapai County. They can advise, but the local parents of each school should have the say as to the kind of school they want for their children. There is more accountability that way, and isn’t that what we really need?

— Mr. and Mrs. John T. Stone

Cottonwood

Is this health bill really the one we need? Is it really good for America? That is the real question. If you are for or against this bill, that is your right. If you try long enough and give out enough deals you are bound to come out OK. It’s like giving a little child a present if they will do what you want them to.

The government has taken over banks, automakers and the health plan in just over a year. What will it be like when the four years are up? China owns most of America now. I’m tired of the government taking over, because I can see socialism coming on real fast.

I can see the medical care we get going down real fast now. Can we get in when we have to at a hospital or doctor’s office now? What about the big bills we get at the hospital? That is one reason the insurance companies have to charge so much for you to get care. They are in business to make money just like everyone else. Look at the whole situation, not just in one place.

We who are up in years won’t live long enough to see much of this. But the young people will suffer trying to pay for this big bill. I feel sorry for the young people and always back them in cases like this.

All I can tell them if you don’t like this bill that you will have to pay for, remember November will be coming up. In case you are wondering, I just had to get my own insurance. I live from one payday to the next just like most of you.

People will be fined if they don’t get insurance. If they had a job and money they would have had insurance to begin with. How stupid can the government get? They also have taken funds from Medicare to pay for this. This isn’t very smart either, since the seniors will suffer. Also they want to take from the rich and give to other people. This goes too far when the government runs our money and our lives, but it doesn’t stop us from paying for abortion.

I live by what the Bible says; I see it being fulfilled real fast. We need a big blessing from the Lord.

— Lavone Turnipseed

Camp Verde

This week marks the my first official week as managing editor for Larson Newspapers, which encompasses the Sedona Red Rock News, Camp Verde Journal and Cottonwood Journal Extra.

I've spent the last six months learning the ropes from Publisher Bob Larson, and now the time has come for me to take the reins.

I grew up in small town in Wyoming, similar to Sedona, just south of Jackson Hole. I spent the first 18 years of my life in Lander, Wyo.; so I know what a small-town life is all about and what residents expect from their newspaper.

Readers want to see their children and neighbors in the paper alongside the local news.

As times have changed, we know people also want access to local news items on the Internet, which is why our Web sites are getting an overhaul.

From now on, if you want breaking news in Cottonwood or Camp Verde, be sure to check our Web site first for photos and up-to-date information. We've also added new features, including this blog, which are available only on the site.

At redrocknews.com, look for the addition of video to enhance our coverage on the site in the coming months.

And don't forget to use the site to submit your press releases, letters to the editor and photos you take around the communities. Part of being a community newspaper is inviting the residents to help us tell the story of our communities.

Feel free to contact me with any suggestions you have to help us bring the news to you, our loyal readers.

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