It was 1997 and I was fresh out of college. I had returned home to start "adulting" - which of course meant getting a job that had something to do with my Mass Communications degree.
Having been born and raised in Mount Pleasant it was never a question of where I would make my life. So I grabbed the classifieds in search of anything remotely close to journalism. As luck would have it, the Moultrie News was hiring a part-time beat reporter. And its been quite the journey to get to where I am today in my career.
Then publisher Charlie Diggle and editor Chuck Diggle gave me a chance as a part-time reporter. A copy of that resume I handed them during that first interview still exists. The familiar scrawl of Charlie Diggle is off in the margins where he made notes about my family, my upbringing and my education.
I grew up reading the Moultrie News. I was even mentioned in it a few times (to include the Police Blotter for teenage shenanigans).
That part-time job turned into a full-time job and my life has been the better for it. What an honor it has been to work for my hometown paper, in my community, corresponding with my neighbors (and beyond) about the happenings of this incredible area we call East Cooper.
And as the years progressed, I had the privilege of working under editor Bill Walker and editor Ann Mitchell. The learning experience went beyond critiques in writing. It was a lesson in relationships, professional etiquette, and journalistic values and principles. It was about building trust with our readers and creating relationships.
It was about emphasizing that the Moultrie News belonged to the community.
The Moultrie News is special to so many, including myself. It has been the lifeblood of our small little area of the Lowcountry, pumping information out as quickly as it can be obtained. I've met with mayors and town officials and sat through long town planning and budget meetings so you don’t have to.
I've covered hundreds of elections, thousands of social events, many athletics victories and some losses too. I've cried with the community as we covered tragedies and deaths. I've rejoiced with our readers when babies were born or newlyweds made their big announcements.
I've set aside countless copies of extra papers for parents so they can share their child’s accomplishments with loved ones.
I celebrated with my colleagues when the newspaper turned 50 years old.
For more than 14 years I have worked under publisher Vickey Boyd, a true mentor and friend. She named me editor several years ago. I am smart enough to know that it had more to do with my loyalty for our wonderful little paper than my qualifications. But she also trusted in me and believed in me to not only do the work of the paper, but to positively represent it as a whole.
And in that same vein, the Moultrie News has become a part of me and I am part of it.
I hope I have given readers what they wanted, how they wanted it and done so with expediency and accuracy. All of it has been such a joy and an honor. But seasons change and it is time for me to take the next step in my career.
I am handing over the seat at the editor's desk to a successor who has yet to be determined. I'll remain on through the summer to ensure a seamless transition. And I hope our faithful readers will join me in welcoming the next in line with warm hearts and sincere encouragement.
The position of editor is a special title to me. It's a big job but a rewarding one. The paper will surely benefit from a fresh set of eyes and a qualified person with new ideas and talent. And East Cooper will be the better for it, too.
This is bittersweet for me. It's hard to wrap up 20 years of your life in a neat little package. But what is easy is thanking our readers for their constant support, occasional criticism, love, and kindness.
I have so many memories and stories I'd love to share about my time here at the best, little community paper in South Carolina. But I've been sharing stories for the past 20 years. Now I ask the readers to reflect on their favorite stories of the Moultrie News. Let's reminisce together. Send in your thoughts and favorite Moultrie News memories to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for possible publication.
Thank you East Cooper! See ya around!