Response to reader questions about article’s intent

In Our View

A reader recently questioned a social media post relating to a story published in the Sept. 29 Torrington Telegram.

It’s typical practice here to share links to stories from the most recent issues of the Telegram on social media. We are a social-media-using society and this practice is one method we have to dispense information of importance to the local community. Readers who may not regularly check our website usually receive alerts from their various social media accounts when new news is available. 

Information, after all, is what the newspaper - any newspaper - is all about. It’s the great equalizer, allowing people to make informed decisions about what’s happening in the greater world around them. It’s difficult, at least, to almost impossible in the extreme to make a well-informed decision about events that can impact our everyday lives without all the information available on any given topic.

This reader’s questions arose from reporting on discussions surrounding proposed changes to the Eastern Wyoming College Agricultural Technology Education Center. EWC’s new president, Dr. Lesley Travers, has expressed the desire to roll the college’s veterinary technology program into the new ATEC facility when it’s built in the near future. 

The issue kicked off with Dr. Travers proposing the changes during a regular Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 12. It was also reported that, at the time, retired agriculture instructor Rick Vonburg told the board he had concerns over the proposal.

Our Sept. 29 story followed up on the issue, going more into the depths of both instructor Vonburg’s concerns and President Travers’ reasoning for the proposed change. We endeavored to provide both sides of the issue - which is, after all, the job of the newspaper - to present to the public as much information as possible to allow them to make up their own mind.

The reader questioned the logic of presenting the article, saying, “It would be nice for the local paper to support the cause, instead of trying to spark a controversy where there isn’t one.”

The reader went on to say that change is good and the “changes to the design are for the best. It will allow EWC to serve more students, isn’t that the point?”

Serving students is indeed the point. But we disagree with the reader’s assertions that we are stirring up controversy where there was none to begin with. This newspaper has received reports that, on the day the story hit the streets, the issue was indeed a wide-spread topic of conversation on the EWC campus and in the community. So, apparently, there was and, hopefully, continues to be interest in this issue.

Questions had arisen prior to the story being researched and written surrounding what was perceived as a lack of information being released to the public concerning the proposed changes. And that did, indeed, concern us. A significant portion of the funding for the ATEC, which has yet to be built, and the recently-completed Career and Technical Education Center is coming from general obligation bonds approved by voters several years ago. These bonds are ultimately repaid via tax revenue from the pockets of property owners in the EWC taxing district.

That’s you. And that makes this a public issue, an issue people have a right to know about, an issue that demands discussion and implementation under the full light of the public eye.

We don’t question the wisdom of the plan. That’s for the EWC administration, the people ultimately responsible for running the programs, to decide. 

It’s also for you, the people who will eventually pay for implementing the plan, to provide input. 

There are too many instances, both historically and today, of people in power attempting to “control the message,” to limit the amount of information available to the public or to craft the presentation of that information to favor one point of view over another. It’s happening on the national stage and it’s happened in this community.

Information is a valuable commodity. Presenting this information to the public doesn’t stir the pot, as it were. Offering up all the relevant data on any subject simply makes sure all the ingredients are present in the pot so the final product is the best it can be.

More In Opinion