Lahontan Valley News Editor and General Manager Steve Ranson was one of 12 editorial writers recognized at the recently held International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors Conference in Green Bay, Wis.
The ISWNE consists of members from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
Every year ISWNE’s the Golden Dozen award recognizes 12 editorial writers whose opinion pieces reflect a topic pertinent to the community in which they live. A Golden Quill award is also presented to the top editorial writer of the year.
Judges reviewed more than 500 submitted editorials. Ranson’s editorial — entitled “Band-Aid solutions do not work” — focused on the rocky relationship of the Churchill County School Board and former Superintendent Carolyn Ross, which led to her resignation more than one year ago:
In part, the beginning of Ranson’s editorial assailed the trustee’ manner in which they conducted their business:
“We have said it more than once, and we will say it again: the Churchill County School Board has reached another juncture in its duties where it must decide logically without knee-jerk responses to put more than Band-Aids on the hemorrhaging issues that it and the district face.
“During the past two years the School Board has evolved more into P.T. Barnum’s three-ring circus than a group of concerned, elected officials seeking the best interests of Churchill County students; instead, a small number of trustees are continually turning the entire board upside-down with constant bickering and lack of support for the superintendent. This led to Dr. Carolyn Ross’ resignation on Monday.
“Unless something is resolved soon between Ross and the trustees, the image of the former superintendent may haunt the School Board for months because Ross filed a lawsuit against the School Board on Friday. The lawsuit alleges that the trustees breached her employment contract, stepped outside of CCSD policy in its functions and interfered with Ross in carrying out her duties; furthermore, Ross alleges in her lawsuit that Trustee Nona McFarlane has made slanderous comments to school district employees and community members about Ross’ character and leadership”
Ranson ended his editorial with a strong conclusion:
“Both our residents, who still pay taxes to support the schools, and parents deserve transparency from the Board of 7. Those residents and parents also expect some trustees to take the FUN out of dysfunctional and begin behaving like adults without vendettas. The trustees must behave as adults, serious adults.
“Trustees: Thursday seems like a good time to renew your vows of commitment to the community and the people you serve by healing yourselves with something bigger than adhesive bandages.
“We expect no less from adults.”
After the editorial was published, Ranson said one trustee emailed him with a one-word response: “Ouch!”
Said judges: “Churchill County’s school district went through turmoil, and the Lahontan Valley News editorial spells them out cogently. Then over half the piece is devoted to a call of action in four bullet points. This is a clear, no nonsense editorial that calls on trustees to act like adults. (Good luck with that; fractious boards are much better at pointing fingers than solving problems.”
Ranson, who has been a member of ISWNE for four years, also won a Golden Dozen editorial award in 2009 for taking a Nevada state senator to task for criticizing the Northern Nevada Veterans Cemetery north of Fernley without visiting the site but taking the word of a disgruntled constituent on its upkeep.
The editorial, though, became personal for the LVN editor. His father, a World War II veteran, is buried there, so Ranson said he is familiar with the cemetery and the care that goes into the grounds.