By E.W. CARSWELL
The Pensacola News-Journal
ESTO — There’s little here, recreationwise or otherwise, to challenge the young people of this and the surrounding communities.
There wasn’t, at least, until the young people took matters into their own hands. It now appears that some of the community’s adult leaders will have to hustle or make way for the youthful approach.
The young people decided they needed a “voice,” a vehicle for promoting their ideas and projects. A newspaper seemed the answer. So The Esto Herald was forthwith founded.
Used for its production were a few reams of paper and a mimeograph borrowed from the Esto Baptist Church. Volume 1, Number 1, was a three-column, eight-pager. The maiden issue heralds Esto in its masthead as “The Gateway to Northwest Florida.”
The newspaper has a positive, progressive tone throughout.
But one published in Esto would have. Everybody hereabouts knows that Esto has no radical malcontents. It has a few “old soreheads.” Everybody knows that. But no modern-era radical malcontents.
There’s acknowledgement in the newspaper of the community’s shortcomings and that many things are needed, but the editors — unlike some young people elsewhere in the nation — do not propose wrecking what’s here as a means of getting started. But they do have some constructive proposals here and there, and they even propose taking the leadership in some instances.
In one news article, for example, the newspaper says, “The young people of this area would like to invite all those who enjoy sports and recreation to join them on Saturdays at the Town Hall.” A program of athletic games, as well as games for those “who are less active,” is announced.
They’ve even done a survey, showing that the community has 49 young people. They’re negotiating with the owner of an empty building for its use as a community recreation center.
The group, known as “Youth in Action,” has planned a Halloween carnival for October 31 at the Town Hall, and they’re called for the establishment of a community library. They propose starting with gift books and loaned books, with the library being located initially in the town clerk’s office at the Town Hall.
Ray Reynolds, a sophomore at Holmes County High School in Bonifay, is editor of the newspaper.Other members of the Herald staff are Liz Kidd, Jeanette Wells and Linda Kirkland. A couple of service stations, a church and a grocer have indicated their support by placing advertisements in the newsy little newspaper.
The editors, apparently aware of the value of localizing, dwell on events in Esto, rather than at the county seat or state capital level. Esto’s voting precinct returns for the recent runoff primaries, for example, show that Gov. Claude Kirk is in disfavor with the Esto branch of the GOP. Kirk got a great big zero in Esto. His opponent got only one vote, that being cast by the community’s lone Republican, who didn’t have much of a chance of keeping his choice secret.
The report also shows how the other candidates fared in the lone precinct, in which 118 voters, or 57 percent of those registered, actually voted.
The Town Council didn’t do much at its last meeting, unless you want to count an authorization for having the grass cut around the Town Hall. Perhaps no one except Esto citizens would give two whoops about that, nor who made the motion. But the youthful editors rightly recognized that Esto people would be interested. For their edification, The Herald dutifully reported that councilman C.B. Kirkland made the motion, with Walter Dixon offering a second. The council, approving without opposition, appropriated $5 for each mowing.
Reported was the establishment of a new tractor dealership and the paving of the “only remaining dirt road in Esto.”
The town is taken to task for buying a fire truck but failing to properly organize and train a volunteer fire department. But the youth group was not content to just complain; they propose to initiate corrective action.
“The men of Esto need to reorganize their fire department, and we the staff of the paper would like to help by calling a meeting at the Town Hall on October 17 at 7 p.m. for this purpose.”
Anyone want to bet they won’t get the job done?