Local tragedies impact us all
Upon hearing the news of a terrible accident or tragedy, the first thought that jumps into the minds of most people is could someone I know be involved or hurt or worse? For those of us with immediate and extended family in the Midcoast and those of us who also are members of the media, the scanner can be cause for an immediate adrenaline rush — both excitement for a story and concern regarding those involved. Quickly, we go through in our minds where family members might be and wonder if they could have been led off the usual path for better or for worse. In these days of constant communications, some reach for cellphones to call or text loved ones to be sure.
In most cases, these emergency calls for help turn out to be a stranger.
But for some, phone calls and texts go unanswered and questions remain until information is released or a dreaded phone call or visit from police takes place. Many times, the cause of a crash remains unknown for days, weeks or months and people tend to hurl about wild speculation about what might have happened, or accuse the driver involved of wrongdoing even if there's no basis for such accusations.
As media, we often take the blame for incomplete reporting or too little detail following a crash or fire. But we can only report what is known as fact. We are not here to guess what happened or point fingers in blame. We, too, are often on pins and needles waiting to hear the cause of a crash or the condition of those involved. We follow the story from beginning to whatever end is available to us even if that end is with unanswered questions.
Some of us have seen things we wish we had not and things we can never erase from our mind's eye. Some have family members who work in emergency services or with police departments that deal with these calls every day. Some have taken phone calls from distraught family members looking for answers we don't have. Some have been impacted personally by tragedy that our colleagues are sent to report on. Some of us are parents or siblings and all of us are someone's child.
It does not ever become easy to report fatal crashes, regardless of the relationship we may have with those involved. It is not easy to remain objective, at times, when reporting about senseless acts of violence or tragedy. It is not easy to distance ourselves from stories we have become vested in. It is not easy to write about those inspirational people fighting against the odds who finally succumb.
But everyone deserves to have their story told, no matter how difficult it is to tell.
Ask questions earlier
As we found ourselves once again writing about a property in Rockport situated on Chickawaukie Pond planned for public access, we wondered — why did vehicle access to the property seem like such an insignificant problem at the time the town acquired it?
The town is not exempt from the rules residents must follow, so why no concern about being able to park on and access a private road for public use? At the time, the town manager indicated the issue would be addressed when it became a problem and yet, now the recommendation has been made to dispose of the property and try to recoup not only the back taxes but also the costs of demolishing an unsafe building, which was done shortly after selectmen approved taking ownership of the property last summer.
Access to the property should have been near the top of the list of things to investigate, prior to acceptance of the parcel, not a last minute discovery.
The same could be said for circumstances around Rockport Public Library. Why did it take three years for information to surface that a zoning change would allow the library to expand at its current location? Now it seems the committee is no further along than it was when the process began as it takes steps to investigate the possibility of expanding on-site rather than moving to another town-owned piece of property. Perhaps the findings will be the same and a move is imminent, but the people should have the right to consider all available options.