By Jason Sethre
Fillmore County Journal
As we kick open the doors of 2021, it gives us a moment to reflect on what just happened in the year that was.
For me, at the newspaper, I think of all of the stories we published, and how the pandemic changed what we covered and how we covered it.
What was most interesting to me was how we became even more connected. There was a point in 2020, from early spring through mid-summer, in which no events were taking place.
Auctions, festivals, parties, weddings, worship services, and funerals were not allowed.
Other than government meetings, there wasn’t anything happening. And, even government wasn’t business as usual, with all meetings held in a virtual world. This past year, “Boomers” became “Zoomers.”
But, one thing that became apparent with covering all of these government meetings was that everyone was contending with the same issues.
It didn’t matter which school board or city council article you read in the newspaper, they were all battling the same issues relating to COVID-19 and the financial impact of the pandemic.
School districts were trying to figure out a plan for distance learning and managing extracurricular activities. Cities were exploring expense reductions while also trying to figure out how their employees could work from home.
They were all exploring the same possibilities during uncertain times.
What I realized, though, as I read what Fillmore County Journal reporters shared from each meeting, was that our newspaper’s role during these challenging times became even more lucid – more pronounced.
We can always learn something from observing how our neighboring communities or school districts choose to proceed.
In 2020, how each council proceeded with decisions became a point of comparison for your own community or school district.
This past year, we committed to covering the following 15 city councils, eight school boards, and county government.
• City of Canton
• City of Chatfield
• City of Fountain
• City of Harmony
• City of Houston
• City of Lanesboro
• City of Mabel
• City of Ostrander
• City of Peterson
• City of Preston
• City of Rushford
• City of Rushford Village
• City of Spring Grove
• City of Spring Valley
• City of Whalan
• City of Wykoff
• Chatfield Public Schools
• Fillmore Central Public Schools
• Houston Public Schools
• Kingsland Public Schools
• Lanesboro Public Schools
• Mabel-Canton Public Schools
• Spring Grove Public Schools
• Rushford-Peterson Public Schools
• Fillmore County government
In 2021, we will be increasing our coverage with the addition of Eitzen City Council and Houston County government meetings, as well.
When we report on a city council meeting in one community, it is not only for the benefit of the people living in that city. Other communities benefit, as citizens become aware of different approaches to governance.
We don’t operate on islands in this area. We are all connected.