True love, job brings me north

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 2, 2005

I’ll start my first Reporter column with a quote by former vice presidential candidate Adm. James Stockdale.

&uot;Who am I? Why am I here?&uot;

I am Patrick Johnston, the newest reporter at the Reporter. It’s good to be here.

This time two weeks ago, I was cleaning my office at The Eufaula Tribune. Now, I’m sitting at my desk in Columbiana, beginning a new job.

Even though I am from L.A. (Lower Alabama), I’m familiar with Shelby County.

I grew up in west Jefferson County, and attended Garywood Christian School in Hueytown. In fact, Kingwood Christian School in Alabaster was one of our big prep rivals. Unfortunately, we had little success against the Lions during my laughable athletic career.

There was little doubt I would go into journalism after high school. Yours truly was the sports nerd who read the newspaper every day. I knew the batting and earned run averages of former Braves Jeff Blauser, Terry Pendleton and Tom Glavine better than Ted Turner did.

After four years at the University of Alabama, my first full-time job took me to Eufaula, home of stately homes and big bass.

I planned on staying a year or two. Five-and-a-half years later, it was time to say goodbye. The Tribune is a great place to work, but I had good reasons to leave. The two biggest reasons are Stephanie and Jonathon.

Stephanie and I were matched together by God, with a little help from (You know, the match-making website with the hokey advertisements.)

Our first date started at the Applebee’s in Ozark. Several hours later, we were in Steak and Shake, talking and acting like giddy teenagers. Nearly three years later, we’re just as sickening. I popped the question Christmas Eve, and thankfully, she said yes. The wedding date is June 25.

By the way, Jonathon is Stephanie’s 11-year-old son. He’s a bright kid who is funny, smart – and fortunately – a basketball and NASCAR fan. He’ll be a great son.

Anyway, Stephanie works in Homewood, and one of us had to move. It made sense for me to pack up and come home.

I said a lot of prayers about finding a new job. I was on the Internet, and found that the Reporter was hiring. The rest is history. Now, I’m with one of the most talented staffs in community journalism.

As this column is being written, I’ve only been on the job for two-and-a-half hours, but I have already pestered Office Manager Debra Holsomback about 436 times. She hasn’t thrown anything at me yet, so I can tell she’ll be great to work with.

Publisher Tim Prince and Staff Writer Fred Guarino have given me grief about my college football alliances (For the sake of being safe, &uot;Go Troy.&uot;)

News Editor Candace Parker greeted me with a smile, and then handed me work – all by 8:10 a.m. I already like this place.

In the next few days, weeks and months, I look forward to meeting new faces and covering the stories important to you, the reader.

There is no question Shelby County is one of the best places in the state, if not the Southeast, to live and work. Fortunately for us all, there is room for improvement. Shelby County can be the greatest county in the Southeast.

The Reporter can’t give all the answers on how to make the county better, but we can tell the triumphs, and challenges, facing local residents. I’m looking forward to learning more about the county. Hopefully I can help you learn a little bit more, too.

Patrick Johnston is a staff writer at the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at