I can’t believe I have written here for two years. Sometimes it seems like yesterday and other days, especially when my colleague Sports Editor Greg Woods is around, it seems longer.
I have always strived to be a better writer, a better journalist. Coming to the Henry County Local has helped me grow.
Circumstances out of my control like deadlines, staffing issues, and sometimes fully through my own faults, have caused me to not always put out my best writing. Sometimes my appetite for a good story outweighed what was realistically on my plate.
The helpful staff at the Henry County Courthouse will tell you I delved numerous times into cases bigger than my time realistically allowed. I have done the same with researching historical topics with my good friend Hammer Smith. Sometimes I employed the help of others like Moe Raisor who stayed with me at the courthouse until 3 a.m. with the ghost hunting group. Similarly, I have spent four hours doing an interview in our beautiful hills and hollers for only 800 words on page.
I don’t name these things examples out of excuse, but out of exaltation.
I thoroughly enjoyed the hard work. I enjoyed getting my hands dirty — digging into your stories, our county’s history, veteran’s stories, a newsworthy trial, a local government issue, a young girl who makes her own honey, or the story behind a sign on a barn.
Those stories have taken me to the dark places of abuse, the living conditions of cigarette camps during WWII, as well as, the hysteric heights of humor revealed in my Take 5 interviews. I have enjoyed the happy endings of stories like the man and his Austrian bride from WWII who loved Henry County so much they had their ashes buried on a farm they purchased in Port Royal.
My time here at the Henry County Local has equally given me the opportunity and forced me into being a better writer. I have strived over these two years to be a better journalist — not just regurgitate a press release and put my name on it.
In my pursuit to work as a better journalist, I have been given the opportunity to work at a larger paper. Shelby County’s Sentinel News has hired me. I will be here in Henry County until April 8.
I will regret not covering the local 2014 elections, which have promise for several inches in this paper.
I will regret not covering the bigger trials scheduled to happen later this year. Some of those cases I have followed for two years.
I will regret not weaseling my way into a one-on-one with Wendell Berry, who I admire deeply as a writer, and trading country stories for an autograph. I will miss talking with Mrs. Berry who really rules the roost and is a pleasantly determined force in her own right like her daughter.
And I will regret mostly not seeing the people I work with everyday.
They have put up with me through the best and worst. This office is held together by strong women who have endured more than I hope to and still clock out at the end of the day as if their thankless labors are just part of the job.
They put up with me when I have had deathly illnesses, dental complications, a death in the family, and I even mean that for Greg Woods who I have enjoyed rib jabbing for almost two years. He thought he was retiring when he took this job, but he actually was doing penance for all his sins by having to work with me. I wish them the best and I know I leave the paper in good hands with our new reporter Will Phillips and Melissa Blankenship, who has taken on more than any sane person should by managing two papers.
I will still be in Henry County from time to time as a big part of my family lives here.
I have a niece who has had a healthy dose of Col. Mark Fassio in JROTC, which I am thankful for even though he beats me like a redheaded stepchild in any of the military strategy games we have played. I also have a niece who will be in high school and grown up soon enough. I have two sisters who live here and the Bowman family Christmas happens every year in Henry County.
I can’t say enough about the local government, local and state law enforcement that have been more than cooperative in helping me obtain what I need for stories.
I also can’t say enough to you that subscribe to the Henry County Local. Without you, I wouldn’t have been able to write in this county where I spent a large part of my childhood. I will see you again friends, but after next week it will be off the clock. Please keep in touch.