Tue, May

Early morning last Friday, a Cottonwood user started posting a series of comments on a story about the Sedona Fire District on our Facebook page.

There were numerous factual errors in the user’s comments, all easily verifiable, and none related to the story nor to SFD, but rather in the user’s comments about an elected official who had coin­cidently defeated the commenting user in the last election cycle.

We replied with several “editor’s notes,” correcting the errors so readers could still read the user’s relevant comments but see corrections to the erroneous comments directed sideways at the user’s former campaign opponent.

We ran a front page story last week in both the Cottonwood Journal Extra and The Camp Verde Journal about threats made by a student to another at Mountain View Preparatory, a kindergarten to eighth-grade school in the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District.

The specific threat could have been made at any school, which should serve as a warning to parents to make sure their children are safe but also make sure they teach their own children right from wrong and to not say things in anger they may later regret. Sticks and stones can break bones but words can lead to suspension, expulsion or police involvement.

The Arizona Supreme Court held session at the Sedona Performing Arts Center on April 25. This was a rare opportunity for residents to witness Arizona’s senior justices hear oral arguments in two cases pending before the court and ask ques­tions of the justices afterward.
The state Supreme Court has original jurisdic­tion over a limited list of writs and dispute types — most of what the court hears are appeals from lower courts, such as the two cases April 25.

While these particular cases themselves are seemingly insignificant, their arguments before the court are the cornerstone of American democracy and perhaps the only reason our Great Experiment has endured.

The Verde Valley recently lost one of its most major philanthropists: John Cornelius, 98, died April 5 due to complications following a stroke.

The headlines about him written by half a dozen of our reporters over the years summarize his contri­butions to our community: “VOC veteran gives of himself to help others,” “Village of Oak Creek man never quits helping vets,” “VOC vet does another tour of duty,” “Help John Cornelius take care of veterans on Pearl Harbor Day,” “Cornelius finds another way to help disabled vets” and “Cornelius collects $180K for vets.”

Since Feb. 6, readers may have noticed a new byline appearing in our three newspapers: Steph Berens.

A North American Studies major at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, Berens emailed me in December, asking if we had an intern­ship available for a few months this spring.

By Steph Berens

Two months ago, I walked into the newsroom for the first time. I suddenly found myself, a North American studies major with only a handful of journalistic experience, surrounded by a bunch of tough-guy reporters who run solely on coffee and cigarettes. Apparently, that environment was perfect for me to thrive in.

Nine weeks, 18 published articles, over 3,000 photos, and uncounted hours of waiting for my computer to cooperate later, my internship at Larson Newspapers is coming to an end — and I’m not ready to go.

People must be able to get facts from their government to make smart decisions and hold public officials accountable. Politicians from both parties agreed on this long ago when they first passed federal, state and local open government laws.

But the things people build — be they bridges, roads or freedom of information laws — wear out without regular maintenance. That’s why Sunshine Week exists, to remind us that it takes effort to keep freedom working. “The natural progress of things,” Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”

As the weather warms and people begin to get out more, we are sharing common spaces we had avoided when it was colder, snowing or raining over the winter.

It also means we are exposing ourselves to more viruses and infections that have had time to incubate in relative isolation. Heading to work and sending children back to school means those viruses find new incubators — humans — spending hours together in confined spaces.

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