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The Flatlander

Overthinking And Underthinking


I’m a mass media guy, so for better or worse, I spend time on social media. Anyone who’s not drawn to the ability to communicate with thousands of people at the touch of a button doesn’t love communication as much as I do, I’d argue.

Just recently someone out there in the land of posts and threads posed an interesting question.
When it comes to big decisions are you the kind of person who:

(1) Makes the decision to move forward and figure out the details as you go, or;

(2) Weighs all the details carefully, measuring the pros and cons, then decides whether you will or will not move ahead?

Neithe style is right or wrong, and the world goes around because both types of people live in it.

Take the example of Stone County Leader News Editor Lori Freeze and me. We’re poster children for the two different styles.

By its nature, Lori’s job requires living in three realms. Almost every decision requires thought to the precedent and history of the past, the possibilities and realities of the present, and perhaps most importantly, all the possible outcomes and consequences of the future.

Being the daily decision maker at a newspaper is a huge responsibility, and it’s even more complex in a small community. Our unwritten oaths are to truth, told fairly and accurately, and done so by following a common standard of ethics. We could call those things the letter of the law.

On the other hand, community journalism is practiced by those of us who live in, and are part of, the community. In Lori’s case, she has a lifetime history with the community. And every time we work with an elected official or other source, we remember in the back of our minds that circumstances will dictate the likelihood of working together again. These considerations are more toward the spirit of the law.

But all three dimensions guide her thought process as they should. I respect Lori. She knows that. My role is support. I’ll stand beside her and do that any day.

But in the areas outside the newsroom where I’m the leader, (I have a cotton farm in the Delta, and work as a published author with a great literary agency) I’m the guy who hates details, has a high risk tolerance, and runs over barriers to get to new, bigger, better things. I like making things happen.

Granted, there’s a long list of failures, some almost devastating, that have made me comfortable with risk. But the rewards of plowing through and making things work as I go have far exceeded any stigmas about failure.

Coming to Mountain View is a perfect example. I saw the land, looked around, and it took my breath away. Next logical thought? Let’s buy it. Why mess around?

Then, the voice in the back of my head: But the river may flood. And you don’t know anyone here. And what kind of house will you build? And how will you care for this house and the one back home?

Then, the real me: Those are details, and I’ll figure it out. This place is too special not to get it now.

I signed the papers 20 minutes later.
And guess what? It’s all worked out.

Recognizing I’m from “off,” and always will be from off, I’m wondering if we couldn’t strike a better balance with this philosophy about some of the more consequential issues we’re considering. Sometimes, people from off have good ideas, too.

Food trucks and mobile vendors:

We are debating this issue to death. What about this? What about that? They don’t pay taxes. They don’t contribute to the community. They compete against invested, established restaurants. A food vendor atmosphere need not take on a life of itself. Regulate it to any extent you please and strike a balance for these hustling (that’s a compliment) entrepreneurs who bring both diversity and choice to our economy. Other counties across Arkansas are pouring themselves into ways to figure this out and make it work. Keep doing what you’re doing and you’re always gonna get what you’ve always had.

Managing COVID:

Everyone’s eager to get out and celebrate the 4th of July. Heck, after the last 18 months, we’re excited to get out and do anything. We just want to go and do and be again. Maybe we need a little more restraint here. We’ve got a problem, and regardless of the cause or source of that problem, we need to think through all the scenarios. This includes getting the vaccination.


This issue triggers emotions in every direction. It shouldn’t. We’d all be better off for a while if we’d just regulate our own morals and leave everyone else’s alone. A wet/dry referendum should be approached with thoughtful study and facts. Not emotions and rhetoric. Take it slow. Think it through. Do it right.

County Recreation Pool and Park:
This should not be a squabble over who gives what to whom. The county and city governments are in petty conflict here, and the very youth that we proclaim we want to invest in, and keep in Stone County are the ones who miss out. An improved swimming pool facility is a no-brainer for this community. Let’s figure it out and move on.

See you in next week’s newspaper.

(Steve Watkins is a reporter/columnist for the Stone County Leader. Write him at steve@stonecountyleader.com)


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