Okay, so it's no news flash, but I am a newcomer. Even though I have only been in town since late July, there is one topic that has led to many conversations with local residents and officials.†

Sometimes it's one that's not so friendly.

The fate of Glen Rose Medical Center is a rightfully sensitive subject. The county has one hospital, which accounts for jobs - and a payroll that is not to be taken lightly.†

When I moved to town, I was told there were three options related to the hospital's fate - keep things the way they are, turn the facility over to new management or form an new taxing entity to help fund its operation.

I have heard pros and cons as well as opinions, facts and figures related to each option. I have heard many compelling arguments and others that seemed to be founded on rumors and speculation.†

People say they are taxed enough already. Others say a new manager will close the doors. Some say one side is veiling a hidden agenda. Many say the just want the final solution to be one that works and provides more positive impacts than it does negative. A large number of them have asked voters to decide the issue.

I say it is a beautiful thing to live in a nation where we can say what we feel, ask others to join our side of the argument and take it the polls to see which side wins. I also say if you have an opinion, there is really only one time it can make a difference - election day.

This week, commissioners court called for a May 11 election related to the formation of a hospital district. As the election approaches, the political action committee formed to rally public support will work to share information on the issue.†

But I suspect there will be other discussions as well. As always, there is another side to the story.

I love that I have a job where I will be privy to both sides of the debate. That is as long as the conversations are held publicly or as long as those sides take advantage of the Reporter's open door policy - I am here to listen and learn and I will share appropriate information. Or write a letter to the editor - 400 words or less, email it to news@theglenrosereporter.com - it's that simple. †

On several instances over the last couple of weeks, I have had individuals on both sides of the story ask where the newspaper stood on the issue.†

And I was shocked each time.

I believe a newspaper should not pick sides but represent them. Unfortunately, standing in the middle is not always easy. Throughout my career as a journalist I have witnessed a couple of things about people and their opinions. Supporters of a cause tend to be loud and boisterous while detractors tend to issue their dissenting opinions in an off-the-record approach. Rather than writing letters to the editor or placing telephone calls of concern, they whisper their side is not being fairly represented.†

The latter doesn't give a journalist much to stand on. The latter does nothing to help others understand your point of view.

Moreover, and on a personal level, I believe if you feel passionately enough about a subject to have an opinion, chances are there is someone who feels the same. Form allegiances and fight for what you feel is right.

The point is this: Yes, sometimes things may appear one-sided. But keep in mind, both sides must represent themselves if they want to be heard.

If you donít want to talk to me, if you donít want your opinions memorialized on the pages of history, at least get out and ĎRock the Vote.'