Well, you can teach an old dog new tricks! The Pleasanton Express has not as a matter of journalistic practice written stories from public notices prior to their publication date in the newspaper. If the public notice is of a public hearing, we report the story from the public hearing.
The Pleasanton Express published a Notice of Public Hearing on Tax Increase in the newspaper for Atascosa County. The hearings were set for Sept. 14, 17 and 21. A neighboring newspaper, who is the newspaper of record for the City of Lytle, a part of Atascosa County, wrote a story prior to the meeting based upon information published in the public notice.
Well, the proverbial you know what hit the fan! The Pleasanton Express was called out numerous times on social media inquiring why we were not covering the story. We were deep in the midst of preparing to cover the first public meeting held Sept. 14. We are rethinking this policy, which in the days of breaking news via our digital platforms, seems absolutely the right idea.
In addition, we began developing today a new digital section titled Public Notices on our website at www.pleasantonexpress.com that will be free to the public to access 24/7. You will simply need to go to the site and click on a tab clearly labeled Public Notices to see every public and legal notice published. It will be user-friendly and always accessible. This way there are two opportunities to see the notices–in our print edition and 24/7 via our website. Our website is easily viewed on the phone, tablet, laptop and computer. We hope to have this fully developed by Sept. 23, if not sooner.
We will also be writing more in-depth yet easy-on-the-eye reports on key public notices in the same issue the notice is printed. Our goal is to help citizens understand how much important information is available in public notices in newspapers. Public notices offer governments a very public way to be transparent on budget and taxation issues that are of critical importance to the public. All our Atascosa County and municipal entities adhere to the laws of public notices which must be published in a local newspaper of record. The Pleasanton Express is the newspaper of record for Pleasanton, Jourdanton, Poteet, Charlotte, Christine, Von Ormy and Atascosa County.
I love to see government in action and love even more when the public engages in the public arena with the government. That is what happened at the first public hearing on the tax increase at the Monday, Sept. 14 Commissioners Court meeting held at the Atascosa County Courthouse.
There was much debate on social media Thursday through Monday about the proposed 2021 Atascosa County budget and tax increase. But, only two citizens took time to speak at the public hearing. Still, it was a thing of beauty. Our news editor, Rebecca Pesqueda, attended the meeting in person for The Pleasanton Express. I attended the meeting live via Facebook and broke the public hearing story on our website at 5 p.m. “ish.” The story also appears on today’s front page. If you are signed up for news updates (free), you received that breaking news story in your email inbox. We also shared it on our social media platforms which have a following of 30K. If you would like to receive breaking news updates, please go to www.pleasantonexpress.com click on news updates and enter your email. If you have not, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We post constant news updates there plus promote local businesses, non-profits and events. I promise you the Pleasanton Express works hard seven days a week to report the great, the good, the not so good and sometimes the bad to this community. We believe Atascosa County is the best little community in which to live, love, work and play.
Please call me at 830- 569-6130, text or call me at 512-965-6876 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime to complain or compliment. I consider a complaint a compliment because it shows you care about your local news organization and expect us to be better and do better. We will never stop improving and growing. Thank you for trusting us to tell your stories.
NOEL WILKERSON HOLMES is the Publisher and Managing Editor of the Pleasanton Express. You may reach her at email@example.com.