This is a column about a couple women I know. One is moving up in the world. The other is retiring.
The one moving up is Patty Leon, who is going from her current job as our reporting staff to becoming general manager of this newspaper.
It couldn’t happen to a better person, in my estimation.
Her passion for Liberty and Long counties and its people and places are what make her ideal as the next person to lead its local newspaper (and here a note: she’ll also be tasked with heading up the Bryan County News, our sister paper).
It won’t be an easy job and there will be a learning curve, but Patty has a not-sosecret weapon.
She really cares. She cares about this community and the newspaper that covers it.
Add in her life story (she survived every hurricane that hit South Florida from 1965 until 2006, when she moved here), her love of roller derby, and animals, and being in the middle of everything, and she’s a natural fit for big things.
Oh, and most importantly, she’s got a big heart.
Bottom line, we’re excited about Patty taking the helm of the Courier. I hope you are too.
Now, for the lady who is retiring. That would be Sara Swida, who in a short-time has become one of my all-time favorite human beings.
She is one of the coolest people I’ve run across in my 22 plus years of doing community journalism, for a bunch of reasons.
Sara is kind, patient and funny — as far as I can tell, her only fault is that she went to UGA and loves her Bulldogs.
She overcomes that, however, by putting up with me, a Gamecock born and bred, and others of our kind who left the Palmetto State and eventually settled in this part of Georgia.
Sometimes I think my emails crowing about Gamecock greatness test her patience in that regard. She never shows it.
But then, Sara is one of those people who has an abundance of patience. And, she not only cares very much about what she does, she also cares about the people who do it.
Her insistence on saluting the volunteers who are at the core of Keep Liberty Beautiful at events such one that recently took place is just one example of that.
Her attempts, though our little newspaper and other forms of media, to convince others to recycle, or pick up trash, or think before littering, are further examples of her dedication to the cause of a cleaner world.
And, hey, a cleaner world is a better world.
Besides, if you think it’s easy to write a weekly column on environmental topics and make it not only a good read but also full of important information, well, I can assure you as a would-be columnist myself, it’s not.
But Sara has done it, week in and week out, for years. I don’t know exactly how many years that would be and, being pressed for time because of myriad deadlines, I’m not fixing to look it up.
Besides, it really doesn’t matter in the end.
What does matter is that our friend Sara Swida is retiring next week, and we wish she wasn’t but understand why she is.
I just hope when I retire, if I ever get to retire, I will have made half the impact she has.
Sara, whom I hope to convince to keep writing an occasional work on the environment, has done many a good deed for Liberty County during her time here as executive director of Keep Liberty Beautiful.
She’s done it with a kindness and generosity of spirit that never fails to make me glad I got to know her.
And I know I’m not alone.
Thanks to her infectious enthusiasm for Keep Liberty Beautiful (both the program and the people who make it matter), I suspect she will be greatly missed by all who appreciate this natural wonder we’re all surrounded by called Liberty County.
Thanks for all you’ve done, Sara.
And to both you and Patty, two things.
1. Good luck and best wishes on the next leg of your respective journeys.
2. As always, go Gamecocks.
Whitten is managing editor of the Courier.