I never knew Dr. Alvin Cain well, though I had the pleasure of working with his daughter, Marilyn Selvey, when I was covering Lamar High School for both the Lamar Democrat and The Carthage Press.
My only personal dealings with him were when he challenged long-time Mayor Gerald Gilkey, if memory serves me correctly, sometime around 1985. At that time, the Democrat sponsored candidate forums, which usually had me serving as the moderator. What I remembered most about that debate was the civility of the two candidates, something which we didn't always see at those forums.
The Lamar Democrat has not always done a good job of reporting on the deaths of prominent citizens, especially when Tom O'Sullivan died last year, but the coverage of Dr. Cain's death was handled well. I am sure his family and the community were pleased with the article.
On the other hand, the coverage of the situation at O'Sullivan Industries did not receive the same professional attention. Not only was there no page one followup, which was shocking since there were 138 laid-off employees who could have been interviewed, as well as company officials, city officials, Chamber of Commerce, etc. Plus, meetings were scheduled for Thursday and Friday at the Thiebaud Auditorium...after the publication of the Wednesday Democrat...to help displaced workers with their job hunt.
The Democrat had no story, but the O'Sullivan situation was the subject of editor Rayma Bekebrock Davis' page-two column, "From where I perch." It was treated rather lightly as Mrs. Davis spoke of receiving an unsigned letter criticizing her article in last Saturday's paper about the layoffs, which was primarily one O'Sullivan official's self serving spin on the layoffs, including a statement that it was just temporary, a statement which, as I pointed out earlier this week was contradicted by another O'Sullivan official in the Joplin Globe story that same day.
Faced with that contradiction, Mrs. Davis did not try to pin down the facts, which would have been helpful, but instead wrote a column, using a slightly inappropriate tone.
The most important story in Lamar right now deserves page one coverage in the town's newspaper. The Democrat got it right with Dr. Cain, and Mrs. Davis wrote a fine remembrance, but the newspaper still has a long way to go.