The people of Ford County should get a vote.
A town hall-style meeting on Tuesday featured several media outlets, roughly 60 Dodge City residents and the past and current presidents of Fort Hays State University.
The meeting was to help explain the merger between FHSU and Dodge City Community College, but the message sent was Dodge City isn't ready for this to happen yet.
There were questions presented to FHSU president Mirta Martin fielded concerning current employment, remedial classes and athletics.
While Martin and former FHSU president Ed Hammond consistently said no teachers would be let go and that financing for everything will continue, even if it has to change, the tone of the meeting was confrontational.
We believe Fort Hays State University is a wonderful four-year institution. We believe that the merger may very well be a good thing for DCCC, Dodge City and the surrounding area.
We also believe that some things are being rushed.
We know why things are being moved ahead quickly. If legislative funding isn't approved in the next session, it will be put on hold for at least two years.
The belief is that if funding is approved, other details can be worked out before the merger happens.
Yet, that is what scares people.
Martin and Hammond are open. No cuts are planned. Athletics will be saved and play in the same affiliations they currently are in. Funding will be found for various programs.
It's the uncertainty of it all that scares people. While it's all being said now, none of it is figured out. Some feel the cart is being put in front of the horse by seeking funding before anything is completed.
One audience member suggested a non-binding vote. We don't believe this will work as those opposed to the plan will come out in droves, while those unopposed or in favor may not vote at all.
Chaos might ensue.
Instead, slow things down and actually let a vote take place in Ford County. Let the people have a vote in the future of Dodge City Community College.
Like the local chamber of commerce, we're not taking a stand for or against the merger. We might in the future, but right now, we think the plan has merit, but needs more details filled in.
We'd also like to see the meetings become informational, not confrontational. That might only happen if the people in this area believe they have a say in what happens.
So, give them a say. If it slows down the process, so what? As Martin and Hammond said, this is a whole new ballgame with new rules, new changes and new ways to do things.
Work together and find solutions. Do that, and everyone is happier.