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Plenty to be thankful for this year

There’s a lot we’re thankful for in my house this year and I think that’s probably true throughout the county.

The thing about being thankful is that even when times are difficult it’s possible to find things to be grateful for over the year. I have some Facebook friends who are taking the month of November to do what they call a “Gratitude Journal.”

What a great idea. So many times we read about bad things or see terrible stories on the news. But sometimes it’s heartwarming to read the things that other people are grateful for and realize that there is a lot around us that is good.

So, though I’ll try not to get maudlin, here are some of the things that I’ve been happy about this year.

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Time to reform the system

By the time you read this column you will know the identity of the next president. The election will be over and either President Obama or Gov. Romney will be celebrating a win.

Maybe. It could be so close that like Bush/Gore in 2000 we still don’t know the victor. I hope we don’t have a repeat of that debacle. We need to get this over and done with right away so we can move on.

On Facebook, I posted the following: Whoever wins on Tuesday let’s agree to stop talking politics, griping about the election, predicting a coming apocalypse or the collapse of the country, sour grapes and name-calling. Instead, let’s be Americans and get on with it.

That’s my hope after this divisive election.

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‘Rollercoaster’ sheriff poll

Among the many kernels of wisdom fed to young journalists is this — don’t become the story.

As the theory goes, when members of the media go from being the ones gathering the news to the people in the news, they inevitably lose their objective perspective because they are now inside the fish bowl instead of outside. And as such, they can no longer be trusted with a story about themselves.

This week — thanks to complaints about our online poll, how our poll functions and the general hysteria that accompanies all elections, and worsens as the election nears — The Press came close to becoming the story.

I don’t mean in the literal sense that would imply there was a chance that other news organizations (or us for that matter) would be reporting on what we do here from our Macclenny office. But rather in the sense that our actions caused what could be described as “news.”

Let me explain.

As you can see on the front page, this week’s online poll shows that incumbent Democrat Joey Dobson led his Republican challenger Cameron Coward 55 percent to 43.8 percent, with 1.2 percent of respondents indicating they were undecided about who they’re supporting for sheriff.

As of press time, the poll tallied 685 votes. Admittedly, three of the undecided votes were cast by yours truly while testing the poll’s settings early this week. Over the weekend, we received complaints via our Facebook page about people not being able to cast votes.

“I’ve had four friends call me saying they can’t vote … They said the site says, ‘You have already voted.’ Is this poll rigged?!” wrote George Doran, a supporter of Mr. Coward’s.

That comment was followed by this one from Kathleen Johnson: “I tried to vote and couldn’t … gawd … please don’t tell me our local paper is rigged!”

The poll was certainly not rigged to favor either candidate.

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Outraged by Mann trial coverage

Dear Editor:

I am writing to express my sincere disappointment with your publication of the story of October 18, 2012 Not guilty of child sexual batteries, votes Mann jury.

I am outraged that this story was published. Have you no consideration for the poor child who is now known to every reader of The Baker County Press? Whether the accused was found guilty or not, this story should never have been published. Whatever happened to protecting the identity of the victim [and yes, her identity will be known, because you published her father’s name]?

Did you not take into consideration that it will now be known by every person of Baker County, plus any others that read this publication, that this child considers herself a victim of sexual assault. Baker County is a small community and information spreads like wildfire.

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