Just shy of 10 months—but who’s counting—is a toe in the water when it comes to the journalism world. I’m a guppy, compared to those seasoned veterans. But, even this guppy has had her fair share of experiences. In the short amount of time that I’ve spent in Hinesville, I’ve learned quite a bit about the people and the community. Unfortunately, it is my time to move forward, but I wanted to impart what I’ve learned.
Listen, I’m an outsider. I don’t live here. I don’t vote here. I don’t pay taxes here or go to school here. I only reported here. But despite all of that, I’ve seen a thriving community. I see people who gather together in times of good and bad, and band together to help those in need. As the community grows, the people grow.
Granted, I only covered the less grandiose parts of Liberty County and Hinesville—no crime, criminal trials or crazy breaking news stories. I wasn’t woken up at 2:30 a.m. from a phone call about a fatal accident, or even a man running naked across Highway 196 in broad daylight (no joke, I wish I had gotten the chance to cover that). No, I spent a lot of my time with the folks at the Liberty County School System and the City of Hinesville.
I’ll start with LCSS. I applaud the central office staff. I applaud those teachers “in the trenches” as they say. The outright dedication I’ve seen from everyone to these students in Liberty County is astounding.
Dr. Perry, you are a powerhouse. In the nine months that I’ve gotten to know you and your staff, you’ve made a difference in morale. Yes, there will be those who hiss negative comments and those who only point out the bad things that happen, but always remember the good that’s been accomplished. There are the good and the bad days, but please let me emphasize that I witnessed so much growth.
Don’t let the one percent derail the operation. There will be disagreement. I’ve seen it firsthand. The dissension can be felt within the ranks. I urge you. Work together. Do not let the opinions of one influence the decisions of many. That discord and disagreement will not better the system or the students.
But, don’t forget that these parents are also a force of nature. They will go to the ends of the earth to advocate for kids. I’ve also witnessed this first hand.
Liberty County Board of Education board members—change is great, and it’s obvious that none of you are afraid to embrace what will better and increase opportunities for students in the area. I tip my [baseball] hat to you.
City council—I beg you—be respectful of others’ opinions. As representatives of Hinesville and five different districts, you all are smart, resourceful, and even headstrong and passionate about your positions. Please don’t assume the worst of each other—that only causes animosity and discord, which shows in both your demeanors and decisions for those people of the city.
To the residents of Hinesville—this year is election year for all your Hinesville council positions. Do your due diligence and vote, especially if you are unhappy with your current representation. The lack of voter turnout is extremely disheartening in such a pivotal and changing time in our country.
For everyone in between—please forgive me if I don’t name you—the luncheons hosted by the Liberty Chamber, early mornings spent on Fort Stewart, and to all the other organizations I’ve had the pleasure to meet and interact with, thank you for everything you do for the community. The dedication is obvious in your words and actions.
Lest I forget those who molded me—to everyone at the Courier office—to those that have come and gone, thank you. Let’s just say I don’t think I’d be here without the support of the staff. It takes a lot to rely on a green reporter with hardly any experience and trust them to report the news. Even now, somedays I’m still not sure I completely trust myself to report fairly and objectively without guidance. Regardless of any of that, I learned so much from this group of folks. Thank you. I’ll take those lessons and run with them.
There are three people I want to specifically note: Jeff Whitten, Lewis Levine, and Fishwrap guy.
Jeff — you are my spirit animal. I cannot express how funny your columns are — that, and everyone does enjoy your company. The things that you unintentionally say to those around you makes me laugh hysterically. Please know that “rambunctious swamp ape” is now part of my vocabulary, and I will use that phrase in every viable conversation. Also, go Cocks!
Lewis — I experienced a Courier rite of passage. I finally got my name on a story with you this month AND I got multiple late night and even a midnight phone call about accidents and arrests. You are the man who never sleeps, and you are incredibly impressive. I will miss you… and the mini cokes. Come to Beaufort. Keep me company!
Fishwrap guy — glad to hear you renewed your subscription for the Courier. I hope that the incoming snowflakes will continue to fodder your desire to ridicule us, but will also keep you looking at the paper each week. Have to admit, I will miss the ranting phone calls and snarky sound-off emails.
Thanks y’all. It’s been a great run here in Hinesville. Keep growing, keep moving, and keep supporting each other.