Hagen: The continued skeptics of Mitchell have spoken too loud and long

It's the same tired voices who show up at school board meetings to proclaim their disapproval toward Mitchell and its leaders.

Mitchell Republic Editor Luke Hagen

In the coming months, Mitchell residents will hear from voices of reason and, unfortunately, more hysteria.

That’s what comes with an election cycle and debate.

Does our city need a new high school? That question has already been decided on by the Mitchell Board of Education. How luxurious and complete the school becomes will be argued until voters decide in early June.

Our newspaper received a phone call from a reader shortly after the school board set a public vote to decide on a $17 million bond issue to expand the high school build to include athletic facilities. She was a proponent of passing the bond and she asked why there always seems to be hurdles and naysayers so often when our city tries to do something progressive.

One of the benefits of working at a newspaper is hearing from so many community voices.


Each week, our newsroom gets texts, phone calls and emails from a wide-ranging contingent of folks encouraging us to write a story on this or investigate that. We hear people telling us we should be holding this public board accountable, or we need to dive into the corruption that allegedly happens on state and local levels. And mostly, we appreciate these folks reaching out to us.

Usually these tipsters truly care about the messages and stories that are being shared within our community. Most of these people realize the newspaper is the best route to mass communicate locally and that we have a hard-working staff that really cares about where we live.

So when someone tells us what we should be doing, we of course hear them out and take each suggestion and claim seriously.

That is, until a point.

You know the book “The Boy Who Cried Wolf?”

It's that old tale in which a shepherd boy tries to fool the local villagers over and over again that a wolf is attacking the town’s flock. Then, when a wolf actually comes no one believes the boy, bringing the moral of the story to be learned that liars are never rewarded and that even if they tell the truth no one believes them.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about that tale.

That’s because of the rabble-rousers who’ve consistently tried to make their loud message heard over and over again. It’s the people who don’t bring anything but negativity to each community discussion. It’s who the woman who called us after the bond vote was set was exactly describing. The same tired voices, the finger-pointers, who show up at school board meetings to proclaim their disapproval toward Mitchell and its leaders.


Life certainly isn’t about conformity. We need and want alternative views. And our newspaper has a history of challenging those in power and criticizing when it's appropriate, something we will continue to do in the future when it's warranted. But we want our coverage to be as fair as possible.

Different views are why we run many levels of letters to the editor on our opinion pages, even if those letters directly attack our work or our reporters who do everything they can to write fairly. But we hope when our readers see those letters, they’re reviewed with awareness. When people write, are they level-headed? Do they have fair and honest points that are for the betterment of the community? Or is the author writing with an ax to grind?

That will be the same case when some of these continued skeptics show up to public debates to declare Mitchell is crooked and awful just because some people hope to improve our community for our future generations with an improved new school.

So why call these folks out and give them any press?

Because, we’re tired of the doom-and-gloom prophecy that never comes to fruition. We’re exhausted hearing the false accusations that don’t solve problems. Our public officials have had to endure this same song and dance long enough at nearly every open meeting in recent memory.

We feel for those people who are in the crosshairs of pointless targeted criticism too often.

As the election draws near, listen to the voices of reason — whatever side of the issue they may fall on. But, please, just tune out the hysterical people screaming wolf.

Opinion by Luke Hagen
Luke Hagen was promoted to editor of the Mitchell Republic in 2014. He has worked for the newspaper since 2008 and has covered sports, outdoors, education, features and breaking news. He can be reached at
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