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OPINION

Public Notices Worthy of Everyone's Attention

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Once a year or so our staff expounds on the importance of public notices (called “legal notices” in our pages). This usually is in response to an effort at the state legislature to remove such notices from newspapers and either eliminate them or remove them to obscure state websites.

We have consistently argued against this on the grounds that notices should be placed in the communities directly affected by the content of such notices. Reliable and speedy internet service may now be available in a majority of homes (we have been unable to get figures to determine a percentage), but we are still confident that in Stone County a comment like “everyone has internet access” is far from accurate.

We also argue that the reason some legislators want to eliminate public notices is to detrimentally impact a revenue stream for newspapers they don’t like, but that’s a topic for another time.
Right now seems to be a good time to point out what is in our legal notice section:

• This week, there is a notice that L&N Quarry has filed a notification of intent to continue operation off Highway 66 west of Mountain View. Contact information is given so that if residents in a certain proximity of the quarry had any concerns, they may voice that concern to the proper officials before the permit is approved. For the record, we are not aware of any problems associated with the quarry.

• Last week, there was notice from the City of Mountain View that the planning commission has scheduled a public hearing to consider a conditional use application for property at 301 West Main Street. The public hearing was set for this week, prior to Monday night’s meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission. Because the information in the notice is limited, a person wouldn’t know the nature of the request unless they ask, which is where we should have come in (though anyone is free to do the same). We asked, but not in time to publish the answer prior to the meeting, except online. This issue went to press prior to that Monday meeting, so in the next issue readers will learn about whether property owners Dana and Annette Woods received conditional use for a living space on the upper floor of the former Woods Pharmacy and Soda Fountain.

It is the nature of news reports to record things that have happened, when it is too late for the citizenry to have any input. This is a mental note to our news staff to make an attempt to give readers a heads-up whenever possible, but also to readers that many times the notice is there to be seen even if it’s not under a news headline.

Legal notices also include probate notices for settling of estates, notice to bidders for construction on public projects or the sale of public property, and much more. Sometimes they are routine, but sometimes they are quite important and should get the notice they are intended to get, and any attention warranted from people who will be affected.

We pledge to do our part to make that happen.

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