Gazette Opinion: Johnson newest addition to board
Pat Bellinghausen Opinion Editor | Posted: Saturday,
September 2, 2006 11:00 pm
The Gazette editorial board includes seven Gazette
staff members. Today I welcome the new eighth board
member, who joins us from outside the newspaper
organization. Royal C. Johnson, a longtime Billings
resident, has graciously agreed to become our
community board member.
He replaces Lucinda
"Cindy" Stearns Butler, a volunteer who has
generously given the board her time and opinions.
Despite many other volunteer jobs, including serving
as president of Rimrock Opera Company, and mothering
seven children in her active family, Cindy still
made time for our weekly (and sometimes more
frequent) board meetings. I and the other editorial
board members tremendously appreciate Cindy's
dedication to community betterment. We thank her for
sharing her passion, compassion, wisdom and insight.
At the same time, I look forward to Royal Johnson's
tenure. As many readers know, Royal has a wealth of
experience in the banking and investment fields. He
served four years on the Billings City Council and
14 years in the Montana Legislature, and he helped
establish several local nonprofit foundations,
including the Library Foundation, Yellowstone Boys
Ranch Foundation (now the Yellowstone Boys and Girls
Ranch Foundation) as well as foundations for
Friendship House and the Moss Mansion. He also has
volunteered with the Yellowstone County Family Drug
Court, which works to get drug-addicted parents into
recovery so they can care properly for their
What fewer people may know is that he
is the only Grizzly on the Montana State University
president's advisory council in Bozeman. Royal
earned a business degree from the University of
Montana before going on to post-graduate studies at
Northwestern University and the University of
Pennsylvania. He moved to Billings 47 years ago.
Royal, elected as a Republican to the Legislature
and a nonpartisan candidate to City Council, says
his service in public offices was "truly enjoyable.
One person can make a difference."
positive, community-minded attitude that makes me
pleased that he will be sitting at the table in
coming months as our board discusses issues of the
The Gazette added a community member seat
five years ago to expand the range of experience and
opinions in board discussions. The community member
isn't paid, but the rest of the board listens to his
or her opinions as the eight of us discuss how to
raise community awareness of issues and decisions
that will make our city, our county and state a
better place to live.
Lots of letters coming
With general election campaigns heating up, I expect
The Gazette's daily flow of letters to the editor to
turn into a flood. Extra pages of letters will be
printed between now and Nov. 7, but, if past
experience is any guide, the newspaper still will
receive many more letters than can be printed. So I
want to offer suggestions for writing letters that
are most likely to get printed:
1. Don't wait
until the week before the election to write an
election-related letter. The newspaper will run out
of space for last-minute letters. Write early, but
no more often than once in 30 days.
2. Be brief.
Letters over 250 words will have to be shortened, if
they can be printed at all. The shortest, most
concise letters - especially those that say
something that hasn't already been said many times -
are most likely to get printed.
letters to: Gazette Voice of the Reader, P.O. Box
36300, Billings, MT 59107. Fax them to 406-657-1208
or e-mail them to
Pat Bellinghausen can be reached
at 657-1303 or at