Like Carol Burnett used to sing before signing off at the end of her variety shows during the 1960s and 70s, “I’m so glad we had this time together,” I’m also saying goodnight and tugging my earlobe. Again. For the third time with the Courier. Blame my beloved spouse, whom I have followed across the globe when he was in the military, and who I have followed in a pinball wizard pattern across the state of Georgia over the past 20 years.
Frank was offered a superb opportunity to serve a city in north Georgia, and so, I will follow him once again. We’ve been married for 37 years, so I won’t be leaving our marriage any time soon. And besides, at my age I don’t have the patience or the energy to invest in training Julio the pool boy in the ways of considerate husbands.
I first came to the Courier in 2009. Pat Watkins was editor then and we had a more crowded newsroom. The website was fairly new, and the newspaper was a tri-weekly. I covered Fort Stewart and Hinesville City Council, and any other assignments Pat – an experienced newsman – suggested. Patty Leon, our dedicated general manager, was the equally dedicated sports editor at that time. She also showed me the ropes regarding public safety and crime coverage. I also worked with Jeff Whitten at the Bryan County News in those years. Jeff is a great guy, as long as he gets his gallon cup of coffee in the mornings, and he’s one of the best columnists I’ve ever known. Just don’t follow him around a kitchen; he forgets to close cabinet doors and you might get a lump on the forehead. And I have to mention Lewis Levine – the Best of Liberty reporter for 2019. Lewis is a true asset to the Courier, and a friend who will give you the shirt off his back. (Lewis, Patty might win “Best of” next year!) Lewis is the breaking news correspondent who calls and wakes me up at night when all kinds of craziness happens. One night this past Spring he called me at 1 a.m., at 2 a.m. and at 3 a.m. – to report three different stories!
In 2011 my family relocated to another corner of the state for two years, before we returned to coastal Georgia. Hollie Moore-Barnidge was Courier editor then. She was kind, and maybe a little desperate, and allowed me to come back for a while. My husband and I packed up again for another corner of the state in 2013.
We returned to the area in July 2017, and I took on the role of editor in 2018. We had planned to stay. However, we never know what life will bring.
I am grateful to all the folks I’ve worked with at the Courier and am thankful to those who helped me personally and professionally. The staff is committed to this community, even with the challenges small newspapers face. I know there’s been some criticism of recent changes to the newspaper, but we really do work hard and try our best to produce a quality publication and maintain journalistic integrity. I’ve had the privilege of passing on my experience, and learning from, talented young people this last go-round: Eliese, Chandra, Kayla, Lainey, Lawerence, Asha and Ashley.
I will ask one favor as I take my leave – please be kind to those who remain at the Courier. If you have an opinion, write a letter to the editor and own that opinion. If you want to vent on Sound Off, please tone the harshness down. The negativity level in Sound Off and on social media has gotten out of hand. Like some of our readers, I am weary of nit-picking and name calling.
I won’t miss the stress of print deadlines, but I will miss the people. People like Charm Reed whose bright smile and loving attitude always makes my day. And unsung community heroes like Bruce Muncher, who gives great hugs, Jim McIntosh, a sweet man who will gladly pull you into volunteerism, and Lavonia LeCounte, who doesn’t give up on any child. There are many more terrific individuals in this community too numerous to mention, who do something positive every day to improve their community. May we all do our part in repairing the world.