It’s been a few years now since I’ve written in this space and I do so today with a mix of emotions.
I came here to the Jackson Progress-Argus in 2010, taking over as the paper’s managing editor with the departure of Stewart Voegtlin. I had a lot to learn, a lot of people to get to know, and it wasn’t always easy. There were a lot of late nights, and a bunch of long weeks, but I think I eventually got a handle on things and settled in. And I can honestly say I always gave it my best. When I fell short, I vowed to work to do better next time.
But after all these years, the edition of the paper you’re reading now is the last that I will produce as managing editor, as I’ve accepted another career opportunity.
While I have never lived in Butts County, it has come to feel in many ways like a home, and the people of the community like members of an extended family. My work at the Jackson Progress-Argus has come to make me feel as though I am part of a noble tradition of newspapermen and women who have chronicled this community for generations. I felt, when I came here, it was my duty to continue a legacy as a caretaker of the institution, to step in behind those who came before me to continue telling Butts County’s story so that generations from now will be able to look back to this time and perhaps learn something. The floors of the paper are literally stained with the ink of Butts County’s history, and the community’s ongoing story gets told from within its walls week in and week out.
I didn’t grow up in a particularly small town, but for almost the past 10 years, I have been honored to be made to feel like I was a part of one. While trying to cover the community objectively, I hope I have been able to reflect in the pages of the newspaper a sense of celebration when the community has triumphed, and a sense of sorrow when the community has been struck by tragedy. There have been plenty of stories to be told on both ends of the spectrum.
I am humbled and honored to have been fortunate enough to tell Butts County’s stories. The highlights for me are too numerous to begin listing. I have had a front-row seat and an all-access pass to so much that has happened in Butts County over these last years. Part of me regrets that I won’t be able to be here to tell the story as Butts County continues to transform into what it will become.
My other regret is that I might lose touch with the people that have touched my life in ways large and small over the past 10 years. I didn’t know anybody when I came here, but members of this community took me in, welcomed me to learn about them and document their lives, and made me feel like a part of the community. Perhaps I didn’t always get it right, but for the most part everyone made me feel like doing my best was what mattered most.
I treasure the relationships that have been fostered through this work — again, too many people to begin listing names — and I hope we can keep in touch.
My other hope is that I have been able to hold a mirror up to the community and reflect it back so that its people can see who they are and be proud.
Thank you for allowing me to tell a chapter of your story.