The voices of the community are still here

Some feel a sign of an active community is the activity of residents seen in their local newspaper, especially when it comes to the Opinion or Editorial section.

That often can be seen in our Letters to the Editor, which, admittedly, can be sparse. The only time that seems to change is as elections approach, so I expect to start seeing a few extra opinions from our residents in the next few weeks. It’s important for residents to be involved and to voice their opinions. We do have a specific policy for letters to the editor, but, for the most part, we don’t have problems with any of what is submitted to us and the letter will appear on these pages.

Another method of hearing these community voices is through guest columns.

Usually, we have state officials submit columns, but on occasion there is a local resident who has a topic of discussion, and they ask about providing us with a submission.

It’s something on which I would like to work more. Whether you are an elected official, a businessperson or an everyday resident, you should feel able to express your thoughts on the news of the day.

I encourage our residents to submit their letters. Our policy is listed at the bottom of our Opinion page in each day’s newspaper.

In the area of guest columns, we have some regular contributors and some you will read only on occasion.

Every week, for example, you will see the From the Pulpit column in our Sunday edition. Written by members of the Weirton Ministerial Association, this long-time feature is a valued voice in this publication and our community.

There is more that can be done, though, and we’re always looking for options to have that continued community presence.

One of those ideas is relaunching this week.

You’ll notice a column on the lower portion of this page written by two students from Weir High School.

The school administration contacted us recently about including student columns. This is something The Weirton Daily Times featured many years ago, but it fell by the wayside. It’s something I am glad to see return to these pages, and something I hope we can expand in the year ahead.

Weir High is the first, but I would like to see student representatives from Madonna, Brooke and Oak Glen also featured.

There are other ideas being discussed, some have approached us on their own, while others are rolling through my mind. Hopefully some of those will be appearing sometime this year.

There is a great deal going on in our area, and everyone has an opinion on the issues of the day.

Letters to the editor do not have to be reflective of political issues. They can discuss an observation the person has made while traveling through town. Perhaps they are involved in a local organization, or participated in a community event.

Maybe you are helping to organize a local festival and want to encourage people to attend.

I know the voices in our community are out there. I’m sure many of you have considered writing a letter to the editor, but, for some reason, you decided against it.

I encourage our residents to feel free to submit letters to the editor. If, for some reason, a letter cannot be published, you will be informed.

The communities of Hancock and Brooke counties are strong. There voices are still here, and they should be recognized.

I hope to hear from some of you soon.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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