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Choosing words over actions is easy way out

It is easy to stand on the sidelines of life and point out how things should be done. Getting involved and trying to make a difference takes real courage because it opens you up for criticism and even failure.

It is that concept that drove me to accept an appointment to the nine- person 911/dispatching board that will be tasked with analyzing the potential merger of the county’s three dispatching systems.

Anyone who has read The Tribune in the past six or seven years knows that my personal opinion and also the newspaper Editorial Board’s position has been that the current system is redundant, inefficient and could potentially cost someone their life one day as calls are transferred from one agency to another.

I have never been shy about this point and it is one of the things I feel most strongly about when it comes to the glaring problems with our local government.

I certainly don’t consider myself an expert on the subject but I do think that pure common sense reigns supreme when it comes to having three agencies that do essentially the same thing.

So, when I was asked to help analyze this situation and potentially make this change a reality, how could I say no?

It would be the height of hypocritical for me to continually say in the newspaper that something is broken and needs fixed but to then decline to offer the same viewpoint to the group trying to actually make changes.

But please don’t think that this lumps me in to being part of the political machine that churns along in Lawrence County.

This is a voluntary position as one member of a larger group. I viewed it in much the same light as being a part of the other organizations I participate in including the Chamber of Commerce, Ironton in Bloom, Rotary, Lions or one of several others.

I consider myself serving on this board as a representative of the average citizen and Joe Taxpayer.

I don’t have any agendas, political affiliations or ulterior motives.

My goal will be to offer my perspective but, most importantly, to keep the public informed of every facet of this process.

I plan to be objective in evaluating all information provided and will rely on a reporter to do the same to help ensure that I don’t become too close to the situation to see it objectively.

If I have any say in the matter, there won’t be any secrets or surprises that the taxpayers get blindsided with.

I will stand for complete transparency throughout the process.

If I was appointed in hopes that I will just generate positive publicity, someone is going to be greatly disappointed because I refuse to work that way.

I have always stood up for what I think is right and this situation will not be any different.

At this point, I have to believe that this group is legitimately looking to find a better solution for Lawrence County.

But, if this turns out to be just a dog-and-pony show for political gain, I will step down and expose it for what it is.

Several people have already told me they disagree with some of those put on the board or who were left off of it.

I didn’t have any prior knowledge of who would be on this committee but I can say that I think it was a mistake not to appoint Lonnie Best, the current 911 director. I plan to bring this up at the first meeting.

I have often used words to analyze the current 911 system but I hope my actions can ultimately have more impact.

I’m not afraid to fail in this endeavor but I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t at least try to make a difference — for my family and for every family that may ever need help.

For me, 911 isn’t about creating jobs. It isn’t about political gain. It isn’t about a power struggle or status quo.

The bottom line is that, regardless of the type of emergency someone is facing, each and every Lawrence Countian should know that help is just one call away.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.