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Friday, January 19, 2018

Disagree with Ranger coverage

Letter to the Editor

I read the Ranger’s on-line account of statements attributed to me at the May 6th Dawson County Commissioner’s meeting. It is true that I voiced opposition to the county’s donation of Newport Square in the Heights to the schools to construct a teacherage. Had the Ranger bothered to review the written comments I submitted prior to the meeting or interviewed me prior to running the story, they would have learned that I opposed donating, selling or transferring Newport Square for any development — not just a teacherage — but any development. As reported in the Ranger: “Maggie Copeland, a neighborhood resident who is also the MEA-MFT representative for Glendive’s teachers union, led the way in denouncing the idea of building a teacher housing facility at Newport Square.” I did not organize Heights property owners to voice their opposition, I happened to be the first person who spoke when the Commissioners opened the floor to public comment, but my name appears six times in the Ranger’s article. Not a single other property owner was quoted even though dozens rose to speak on the issue. And why? Well I happen to work for what the Ranger identified as a “...teachers union.” 

I object to the fact that the Ranger not only focused on the statements I made, but the Ranger then identified my employer and those for whom I work as if they had something to do with the issue. When I addressed the Commissioners I identified myself as a property owner. I did not speak on behalf of the teachers or my employer, I spoke as a 15-year owner of a home located directly across from the proposed development. Just as dozens of other property owners appeared of their own volition and spoke against the project for many of the same reasons I articulated. I do not believe the Ranger had any reason to single me out, nor should it have identified my employer. 

After the story appeared I spoke with both the reporter and the editor to voice my concerns and I was told that identifying my employer and work was germane to the story. I disagree. I will continue to be active in county and city issues because that is how a democracy works, but I do not speak for teachers and I certainly cannot speak for my employer — I am proud of both but I am not their mouthpiece. I speak as a citizen of the United States and a resident of Dawson County — and I hope to continue regardless of what I do for a living.

Maggie Copeland

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