Wed, Jan

A young bear who became accustomed to the taste of trash paid the ultimate price for his habit last week.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department euthanized a 12---year-old black bear in Flagstaff after capturing him in Sedona on June 26.

My father was either blessed or cursed, depending on your perspective, to play daddy to three girls.

Now that we’re all grown up, it’s easier to see why it takes a special kind of man to fill that role.

Yesterday marked the end of a long life that meant more to my fiance and, eventually, me than either of us could ever explain.

We laid Henry MacVittie’s 17-year companion to rest Monday, June 7, and we lost a member of our family.

Teachers and school administrators can start the summer with a sigh of relief after Arizona taxpayers agreed to a 1-cent sales tax increase in the name of the children.

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.

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