In 33 years of publishing the Leader, we cannot remember an issue with the roller coaster impact of this week’s.
It has heart-warming stories—a beloved teen recovering from terrible injuries helped by enormous community support, Mustang athletes showing skill and class on and off the field, fun community events, local residents being honored for their work, community projects moving forward.
But it also has two heart-breaking full pages of court and crime stories we wish we hadn’t had to write but couldn’t avoid. (We ran them all in an issue not distributed in our NIE program for students). Most had not been previously posted on line in any form. They are not pleasant reading, and the underlying details which aren’t printed caused us nightmares and tears.
They are a sad reminder of life’s dark side even in a community as wonderful as this, and of societal trends that exact a terrible toll on a wide variety of people.
Some show how reduced services have harmed those with serious addictions to drugs or alcohol—people who can’t get the intensive treatment they need to avoid endangering themselves and others.
Some highlight how understaffed, underfunded and overwhelmed our justice system is.
Some show the carnage caused by a totally broken mental health system that jails untreated people for being sick because their illness harms others—something that would be intolerable if the illness affected any other part of the body.
Some show how this broken system fails those who need help now to be the productive leaders of our next generation.
We take great joy in writing about the vast majority of our young people who make us so proud and feel deep pain for those who fail, especially when we can see where their woes were magnified by the war on public education and the other broken systems.
We especially cry when small children are the victims.
This week’s newspaper has made an extraordinary effort to show both the best and the worst of our community. We urge you to spend some time with a copy.
Perhaps you’ll see ways to help support the great things happening here, or ideas of how to deal with issues underlying some specific crime and court stories to find real solutions to the underlying causes.
We hope we’ll never again have to publish a newspaper quite like this one and that this agonizing task will never face our successors.
But we hope you will take time to see in one place the good things our community offers and all the bad things that challenge our future. It will be time well spent.
Even after three decades, we see new things daily reinforcing our view that this is the best place in America to live, work and play.
We also see too many things that threaten that legacy.
We’d love your thoughts on long-term solutions in letters to the editor, with the usual word limits and rules (see below), preferably by email and most important looking to future solutions.
This issue required much staff conversation and consultation with experts in many fields about how to handle various situations. We’d like to see the entire community involved in those conversations.
John, Faith and the entire Leader staff
Letters policy: The Oologah Lake Leader welcomes local letters to the editor. We accept signed letters of up to 350 words so long as they do not pose legal or taste problems. Letters are due by 5 p.m. Monday. Please include a daytime phone number and address for verification. Email to LakeLeader@sbcglobal.net.
Political endorsement letters are not accepted the last week before an election. Endorsements will be accepted as paid advertising that week. Form letters and non-reader letters may be rejected.