Please Fix: A good idea, poorly executed

Published 10:43 am Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Our intentions were the best. However, you know what they say about good intentions.

In discussions in our building about new features we could add to our newspaper, we came up with “Please Fix,” which highlights problems with public property in need of some kind of repair or renovation or attention.

We hurried to find some problem with public property in need of attention.

“I’ve got it,” I said with enthusiasm. “Every morning and night I drive by the Columbiana Fire Station and look at the missing letters in its signage. Let’s get a picture of that and we’ll get ‘Please Fix’ rolling.”

As I said, our intentions were the best. What we didn’t do was put thought into how city leaders would feel about having proverbial sand kicked in their faces by showing those missing letters at the fire station to our thousands and thousands of readers in Shelby County.

Bone-headed on our part, I admit. If anyone here should have known better, I should have. I’m far from a rookie, and that was a rookie mistake.

Columbiana Mayor Alan Lowe quickly let me know just what he thought about our “Please Fix” feature. Let’s just say he was none too pleased.

Had we done what we should have, I would have called Lowe before we published the “Please Fix” picture, let him know what we were planning and given him an opportunity to explain what happened to the sign and what the city has done to date to try to repair it.

Had I done that, I would have been able to let our readers know the city is aware of the issue, has worked to replace the letters on the missing sign, but those letters have been on back order for at least four months.

“Please Fix” is a good idea and one we think will help point out and prioritize problems for municipal leaders. But we’ll take a little less confrontational approach in how we handle these issues in the future.

Jan Griffey is Editor of the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 36 or by e-mail at