In a way I’ve been writing this column for 30 years. It’s, of course, been rewritten numerous times.
I won’t lie. The words I’ve wanted to use have changed.
Twenty years ago, I wanted to run away from the Chattahoochee Valley. I was 10 and couldn’t wait to leave and never come back.
Ten years ago, I was firmly planted with no plans of ever leaving my friends and family.
This week is my last one here at the Ledger-Enquirer. I’m leaving to be the executive editor at The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
This is home and nothing will change that. I even grew up in the same house my mother did. I’ve been raising my kids in the same school system I attended.
I’ve worked for my hometown newspaper and been blessed to know our community on a very intimate level.
About eight and a half years ago, I was waiting tables at a restaurant in Auburn after graduating. Having a baby changed my career path and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. But one day I waited on a former professor who is married to then-columnist Troy Johnson.
When I told her I hadn’t found a job yet, Johnson asked me if I knew anything about the newspaper industry. I worked for about a year at Auburn’s student paper, so I was familiar.
A few weeks later, I started at the Ledger-Enquirer as a sports copy editor. It was 2008.
Everyone would later tell me it was the worst time to enter the industry.
We lost and lost, and I was certain I always was next on the chopping block.
But we’ve gained a new medium to reach more readers than we ever have.
Last year, I wrote a quick story about Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley and his “welcome” sign.
Over 240,000 people read it, and I received emails from across the world. Print can’t do that.
The Chattahoochee Valley is blessed with a newsroom of reporters at the Ledger-Enquirer that bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise pertaining to the stories they’re writing.
I know I’m biased, but we’re lucky to have all of them.
Last Saturday, they threw me a going-away party. I spent last week in Myrtle Beach, so everyone wanted to know what I’d learned about my new newsroom.
But one reporter asked me a question that I can’t get out of my head. It’s the reason he stayed in Columbus.
“Can you make the community better?”
I immediately wondered if I did anything here to make an impact on my community. I’m not sure I can answer that.
But that question is at the heart of what we do and why we do it.
I can’t express how thankful I am for my time here and the opportunity to do something I never imagined: report stories about the people, organizations and governments in our community.
The old saying that “you never quite realize what you have until it’s gone” isn’t applicable here.
The Chattahoochee Valley is a special place. Don’t forget that.