Look at that dapper guy up there. Why’s he wearing that black bow tie?
It’s a special occasion, that’s why.
I took an extra 148 seconds of my life to Photoshop a bow tie onto my picture because this is my farewell column.
As Ke$ha plays in my headphones and I try to clear the Christmas cobwebs to reflect on two years at The Sun and six years in the newspaper industry, I can think of a list of things that probably all won’t fit in this space.
If I didn’t lose you at bow ties or Ke$ha, lean back in your easy chair and settle in (or scoot closer to your computer monitor and squint).
First of all, it is with deep regret that I leave behind four mothers that have helped me stumble through my time as editor of your newspaper.
Renee Webb, Shorty Lassiter, Lula Mae Adams and Kim Hupman did a lot behind the scenes to keep me from looking like a fool when the paper came out.
Any time that I looked like a fool had nothing to do with them. It wasn’t for their lack of effort.
Sincerely, though, those four ladies taught me a lot about journalism that you don’t learn in school.
When I call them family, I mean it.
Ladies, I will miss seeing you every day. I’ll miss the production and deadline days and the craziness that comes with newspaper life.
I’ll miss the stories that we shared (oh, and the food).
You were all incredible to work with. I’d be hard pressed to find a more hard working, dedicated group.
That includes you, too, Brandon Mattingly.
Managing Brandon was like what I would imagine setting, Roomba the robot vacuum cleaner, is like: give it instructions and then sit back and watch.
I could tell Brandon that I needed a story with local ties about the mythical kangaroo chickenpox virus by the end of the week and he would always produce.
Always. Not only was he on time, he produced a well-written story every time.
That, my friends, is a new editor’s dream.
Besides my co-workers, I’ll miss you, readers (especially you, Scoop).
If you didn’t read, I wouldn’t have an audience and without an audience, producing a newspaper would be pretty pointless.
I’ve had the benefit of learning from some exceptional journalists and people in the last six years, as well.
There are too many to list individually, but my friend Stevie Lowery (publisher at The Lebanon Enterprise) has been instrumental in my professional life for the last four years.
She took a chance on a guy who had little writing experience four years ago and gave him the keys to a sports section.
Then, when a more stable job opened at The Springfield Sun, she told Jeff Moreland, the former publisher here, that she would mock him forever if he didn’t hire me.
I once joked and said that I needed to pay her for promoting me so well.
Besides that, she’s been a deep well of advice for how to handle situations that a new editor wasn’t sure of.
Finally, and certainly most importantly, my family.
About eight years ago, my wife took a chance on a college kid that was dead set on pursuing a newspaper career.
Nothing would stand in that kid’s way: not family, not a girlfriend, not the possibility of having children.
That kid would have given all of that up for a newspaper job somewhere in sunny Florida.
Well, the kid tasted that life and decided to come back home.
Luckily, that girl didn’t leave the kid like she thought of doing while he was living 16 hours away.
She stuck around. The kid proposed (finally). Later they were blessed with a beautiful, curly-haired baby girl named Emerson a baby boy on the way.
I can’t forget my mom and dad, either.
Anywhere I’ve gotten in life I’ve gotten through hard work, something they taught me early and often.
Though I didn’t appreciate it growing up, I certainly appreciate it now.
I hope that I can teach my kids the same lesson.
I appreciate everyone that has picked up a copy of the paper in the last two years and taken the time to read a story.
I appreciate you humoring that weird Osbourne guy on the opinion page who made the jokes funny only to him.
I appreciate your kind words along the way, your patience and your friendship.
I came here to tell your stories. I leave here having told a few. It’s been a pleasure getting from there to here.