This time five months ago, when I decided to place an ad for editorial board members, I wasn't sure what to expect.
Editorial boards are effective at larger papers, but I wasn't sure if one could work for a small town paper like the Payson Roundup.
Now, with the first Roundup editorial board wrapping up its four-month term, I can say with confidence that what was launched as an experiment will now become a permanent fixture at this paper.
It couldn't have gone better.
My ad for editorial board members asked for volunteers who were engaged in the community and informed on the issues, but not in public office.
I received a pile of applications and tried to choose three people who met my initial criteria, but I also wanted to choose three people from diverse backgrounds who would come to the table with differing points of view.
An editorial board that agrees all the time on all issues would produce predictable and dull editorials.
The Roundup editorial board meets once a week -- on Wednesday afternoons. I bring a list of editorial ideas, including a stack of articles or research on certain topics to get the debate rolling.
I read down the list of possible topics taken from the week's headlines, from conversations on the Your Roundup online forum or from comments heard on the street.
I can never predict which topic is going to spark the group, but suddenly, as if a match were struck, everyone is talking. Their voices get louder as their opinions clash and I pull out my pen to take notes.
I let the debate wander for a while until several points are on the table. We whittle through them to find what we agree upon. Later, I fashion our discussion into an editorial.
I believe this process is not only fun, but it has made our editorials better and broadened our subject matter.
The inaugural editorial board -- Marilyn Decker, Timothy Ehrhardt and Robert Henley -- completed its four-month term on Wednesday.
The next editorial board has been chosen from a stack of applications and they will begin meeting next week.
This board includes Bruce Wilson, Bob Charameda and Bill Claerhout.
Wilson is a retired physical education teacher/head football coach in the Glendale Union High School District. He has lived in Payson for 11 years and currently serves on the advisory board for the Payson Parks and Recreation Department and volunteers at the brush pits for the Fire Wise program. He is a former chair of the Ducks Unlimited Committee.
Bob Charameda is a retired high school science teacher and football and baseball coach from Battle Creek, Mich. He has lived in Payson for eight years, volunteered with Habitat for Humanity for six years. He is a member of the Payson Packers, the Rim Country Garden Club, is active in his church and plays for the senior softball league. Most recently, Charameda helped organize the Habitat for Humanity half marathon. He is a current member of the mayor's task force on affordable housing.
Bill Claerhout served during the Vietnam conflict as an infantry officer teaching military justice. He was an assistant district attorney general for the state of Iowa. He worked as a corporate attorney with Northwestern Bell Telephone Co. and counsel for Southwest Gas Corporation. While living in Las Vegas, he served on the township board reviewing planning and zoning issues. He moved to Payson full-time in 2001 and is a member of the Tonto Community Concert Association.
I would like to thank my departing editorial board for their time and all the thoughtful discussions. I would like to welcome the incoming board and invite any community members interested in serving a four-month term in the future to send a letter of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org or drop it by the Roundup office at 708 N. Beeline Highway.