BAXTER SPRINGS — Tempers flared as council members questioned a decision to choose the Baxter Springs News as the city newspaper two months ago at the Baxter Springs City Council meeting Tuesday night.
Councilman Don Underwood said he had voted for the Baxter Springs News because it was called the Baxter Springs News. He said he felt the council should have been informed at the time of the decision to change the name to the Cherokee County News-Advocate.
Councilman Gary Allen disagreed with Underwood. He said the city paper serves a purpose. It allows the public who lives in the area and needs to see the legals that opportunity. He also said the legal notices published in Baxter Springs do not affect Galena, so he did not feel the legals should be published in the Sentinel-Times.
Mayor Jenifer Bingham told council members the legals do not affect Columbus and she believes Galena has a large number of subscribers in the Baxter Springs area. She also said there is a question of which paper has more readers in the area.
“We have approximately 900 readers with a 66713 zip code and our legals are uploaded to the Kansas Press website,” Cherokee County News-Advocate Publisher Chris Zimmerman said.
Allen also told the council it was a matter of who has presence in the area. He said the New-Advocate has a store front in Baxter Springs whereas the Sentinel-Times’ storefront is in Galena.
Although some council members kept repeating “this should not be a personal decision,” complaints were mentioned from members of the community as well as council about the amount of articles about Baxter Springs as well as the amount of space given for a story on the 9/11 memorial.
“This is nothing personal, this is about representing Baxter Springs and the people of Baxter Springs,” Bingham said.
“I will abstain from the voting either way, but as far as a legal what difference does it make what the newspaper articles are about, we just need to know who is reading our legals,” Councilman Ron Steele argued.
“If you want to stay with the News-Advocate, peachy, if you don’t, peachy, it was just our right to bring it forward and say this is what it is, this is what we’re hearing from the people that elect us to sit in the places we’re sitting right now and I know from a lot of parents with kids, they want to see their kids in the paper,” Bingham said.
Councilwoman Lori Wren agreed with Ron Steele and said she did not believe where the legals are published has anything to do with the decision of choosing articles run in the paper. She said she felt this should not matter at all.
“Our official paper has nothing to do, if we pick Galena or Baxter, it’s not going to make them publish something, it has nothing to do with that,” Wren said.
“I guess you’re right Lori, but when it is your city paper you want them to take part,” Bingham said, “Lori will have a problem regardless of what I say because she wants a problem.”
The decision to change the official city newspaper was tabled until the next council meeting so council members could have a chance to speak with residents and gather more information.
“I’d like to think about it until next council meeting, I’d like to get more input because I’d like to talk to some more people, because I’m about that close to saying we make a motion to go to the Galena paper because all I hear is negative,” Councilman Robert St. Claire said.
Additionally Councilman Ed McAfee told the council work has been continuing on the streets. He said 29 cuts have been finished and there are 20 more cuts to finish. He said they had not decided which streets will be overlayed with asphalt for the winter. He asked each council member to have a list of areas in their wards that need work to the mayor by Thursday.
In other business, the council:
• Approved going out for bids for asphalt.
• Approved spending up to $5,244 for Lane Christiansen to re-install a pump and decide if it needed to be pulled again and taken to Kansas City for further inspection.
• The mayor told the council she is working the the Lion’s and the Leo’s club for help with the Mother Road Marathon October 9.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Baxter Springs City Council will be at 7 p.m. October 11.