Someone Noticed passed its first year of existence as a citizen journalism site focusing on the 411 of the Mayor and Commissioners of the Town of Elkton yesterday. Its creation came about because three members of the Elkton town board wanted to allow a commercial developer to purchase part of some of the most important open space and historic land in the county seat. In meetings at the Elkton Alliance, Commissioner Jablonski the town’s Main Street Manager started championing the project, She met with other elected officials and obtained support from two of them, Mayor Fisona and Commissioner Piner.
Once we became aware of the plan, we started trying to engage the officials in constructive public dialogue by attending meetings, making professional remarks, and bringing media attention to the situation. But the local newspaper, the Cecil Whig, wouldn’t cover the matter despite the fact that the proposal was now public at the town meetings. We thus launched the blog in attempt to inform citizens about the town’s proposal and to create public support for retaining what the town, just a couple of years earlier, had argued was valued public property. Much of the situation was confusing as the town never publically stated what it was trying to do and other citizens started speaking up. Over a long spring and summer and into the fall of 2008, the subject often dominated meetings as Commissioner Jablonski continued serving as a spokesperson for the idea. But in the fall the town eventually abandoned the plan.
During this period Someone Noticed found that many other important subjects at town weren’t being covered by the Cecil Whig and we also established a regular readership. Thus we started focusing more broadly on matters related to municipal government, particularly subjects that hadn’t received broader media attention. At the time we thought the coverage of municipal matters in the county seat, the largest town in Cecil, was marginal, but that situation deteriorated in 2009. Today, for whatever value we’re able to add to the public discussion by providing some airing of public matters, we’re the only public outlet covering town government. The Whig hasn’t had a reporter there since early spring. While some would disagree with what we’re doing, especially from what we’re hearing from some corners around town, we’re keeping it professional and trying to present some balance in our original news postings. Follow-up discussions in the comments section will turn to opinion. Of course, we have a long way to go, but at least we’re trying to provide a news source for the Mayor and Commissioners of the Town of Elkton so the public is aware the public policy matters involving the town.