First, I'd like to thank Justin for my pretty new banner. His blog is great, and I'd probably appreciate more if I actually cooked. Plus I'm not an omnivore. I'm also probably not very conscious. Like I said when he sent me the banner, I've hated all the ones I tried to make. Which isn't that much different from when I walk into capstone and announce before reading a piece that I don't know how I feel about it. At least I'm consistent.
So, minor controversy has erupted over Kiss FM keeping track of and mocking Fayette County's crazy news stories. Last year, they had 30 different stories and so far this year, they're up to about seven. Mikey was wondering if it should stop.
What happened was this: the Herald-Standard ran an article about Uniontown teacher layoffs - which probably should get its own post - and someone got a little cranky: "There is a radio station that is constantly making jokes of Fayette County. We are the laughingstock of southwestern Pennsylvania. Everybody needs to step up as a community and work together here. We need to stop filling pockets and scratching backs and step up."
I'm going to guess he doesn't know about me. Yet.
But his statement is obviously true. On top of that, Mikey got this request:
Which would be fair if Fayette County was rolling in happiness and cheer, but it's not.
I saw some positivity when I spent summers working as a stringer for the Herald-Standard: one of the hosts of Wild Kingdom did a fundraiser for a wildlife sanctuary (and it was the most fun I've ever had working in my life), middle school kids decorated murals to improve the bike trail, and a local man is going to climb Mt. Everest. I also covered lots of fairs. Lots of fairs that were running out of money. But even some of the positive stories are still laced with negativity. When the Leisenring General Store reopened, for example, it was after years of being vacant and needed tons of repairs, and is one of the only buildings left from when the mines were working. But most telling is the fact that in the doorway is a sign that says, "We now accept food stamps."
The Herald-Standard's website won't offer much, either. Sometimes, there will be a few good things. Today it's auctions and blood drives, but in between financial woes and deaths. Plus it's hard to keep up with the good when there's so much bad - even on this blog, there are so many things I'd like to post about that are really awesome, but I never get to them because someone commits some ridiculous crime first or bigger issues budget cuts and layoffs come up.
The great things people want to hear currently do not exist. If you want to improve the county's reputation, you have to improve the county, and laying off teachers in a county with a poverty rate of 16.5% with 18% earning below the poverty level isn't going to do it.
The problem isn't that we're being mocked. The problem is that our problems aren't being fixed - they're being added to.