In my opinion, the most important role of a local newspaper in our democratic society is to share community service information and foster transparent dialogue among residents, public agencies, businesses and nonprofit groups. Although that dialogue is sometimes negative, as has recently been the case with the Idyllwild Water District, it is reassuring when the process leads to positive results.
Such was the case when I read a Letter to Editor in the Town Crier’s Sept. 3 edition about a proposed ordinance being considered by Idyllwild Fire Protection District (IFPD) that would expand the requirement for automatic fire sprinkler systems in certain situations. The letter writer urged residents to look into both sides of the issue and voice our opinion to the IFPD commissioners.
Following a cursory scan of the ordinance language, I decided to email the fire chief and commissioners to “voice my strong opposition to the ordinance.” I said it appeared to me that the potential cost for sprinklers would be prohibitive to existing homeowners like myself who might want to add extra rooms to our cabin.
Thirteen hours later, I received a polite and detailed reply from Captain [Jim] LaMont whom I’ve never met or corresponded with before. After reading his thoughtful explanation on why the proposed ordinance would not apply in my case — and for most other residents simply adding a new room or two — I totally changed my position and gained a new appreciation for Idyllwild Fire.
This is how our democracy and civil society are supposed to work. The Town Crier and letter writer successfully informed me and other residents of the facts. I evaluated the information and expressed my concerns to IFPD, and Captain LaMont proactively responded via email which transformed my negative opinion into a positive one. Kudos to our local newspaper, to the letter writer and to Idyllwild Fire for their public service!