Shelby County suits me fine

Published 4:41 pm Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It’s sunny and 66 degrees as I write this, my first column for the Shelby County Reporter, where I began work as editor on Dec. 17.

You will understand my noting the weather conditions when you learn that I moved here from Niles, Mich., where it was 12 degrees and in the midst of an ice storm the morning I left town.

I’m so happy to be in Shelby County, happy to be back in The South.

Please allow me to introduce myself.

I’m a native of Natchez, Miss., though I’ve lived in Michigan –– just north of the Indiana state line, South Bend, Ind., and the University of Notre Dame –– for the last 19 years.

I loved Niles and found it incredibly difficult to leave after spending so much time as editor and then publisher of the newspaper there.

However, when you reach my age –– I’m 47 –– a change of scenery can be just what’s needed.

I’m hoping that’s the case for me.

The opportunity to come to work for Publisher Tim Prince and his incredibly talented staff was one I could not refuse.

The opportunity was made all the sweeter because of its locale in Shelby County and the exciting growth happening here.

I look forward to spending my free time exploring the area and getting to know the community.

I’ve worked for Boone Newspapers, the parent company of the Shelby County Reporter and the paper for which I worked in Michigan, my entire work life, beginning as an intern during college at my hometown paper, The Natchez (Miss.) Democrat.

I graduated from the University of Southwesern Louisiana in 1984. I never planned on leaving the South, but just a few days after graduating college, having never been north of Memphis, I took off for my first full-time job at a Boone newspaper in Ironton, Ohio.

My experience primarily has been that of going into a news operation and “fixing” it, but that’s not the case here at the Reporter.

This newsroom is not broken, far from it.

The news staff here is no doubt the most talented, educated, creative and dedicated with which I’ve worked.

My challenge is going to be keeping up with them while I help us take advantage of our unique opportunity for growing our newspaper in this booming area of Alabama.

I can’t wait to get to know you.

I hope this column is the first of a routine conversation between the two of us.

Remember, a conversation takes two.

I want to hear from you.

We are very interested in your story ideas and thoughts about our printed and online editions and what we can do to better serve you and your community.

At times, I’m sure you’ll want to take us to task.

I want to know that, too. We may not always agree, but I promise I’ll always listen.