Commentary by Clif Lusk

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 6, 2004

The Ninja Princess was really cute in her homemade “Indian Princess” costume Sunday. It was her fifth birthday party and the Ponderosa was transformed into Plymouth Rock for the occasion – complete with a “real-live” tee-pee.

Folks venturing onto the Ponderosa Sunday were treated to me decked out in Indian garb. Thankfully, there were only 50 cameras present to record my adornment.

After choir practice (I did change out of my Indian dress for choir), Mary Lacy snuggled up with me on the couch. Turning her face toward mine, she put a hand on my cheek and patted.

“It was a good party Daddy,” she said.

That melted my heart right then and there. Fathers of daughters know exactly what I’m talking about here, and there’s no way to explain it to anyone who isn’t.

But what she said next really got me.

“My best present is that you’re home.”

Now, the Ninja Princess (so named because she’d just as soon karate-chop you as play dress up) is our Strong Willed Child. Dr. Dobson would have to rewrite his book and rethink his philosophy if he ever met her.

Her usual strong demeanor wasn’t present Sunday night on the couch – well at least it was gone for a couple of minutes.

For those few moments, Mary Lacy was expressing to me how much my daily absence from her life for the past two years has cost.

We moved to Alabama last year – I was about five months ahead of the family in coming over. Once they were here, I normally worked until at least 10 p.m., so I didn’t get to see the kids during the daylight hours much.

Then, Boone Newspapers offered me the chance to come to Demopolis and I did so in May – but without my family because my wife had job obligations.

Fortunately, four kids and a mom really do need a dad around.

So returning to the Ponderosa I am. This will be the final installment of my column and an end to my reporting on the events of our end of the Black Belt.

It’s not an end, however, to the stories that need to be told and that will be told in these pages.

There are good stories about people who do great things for West Alabama. I wish I had written more of those myself. I’ve discovered a whole host of unsung heroes whose everyday lifestyles are about improving our region. Some do so in small ways – like delivering a simple meal to someone without food.

Some work on a grand scale, going far and above the requirements of their jobs so that you and I can be comfortable and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

There are other stories – the kinds people like to slam newspapers for writing – the “Bad Stories.” These need to be told as well because when corruption or greed or meanness is brought to light, then change normally follows because people do something about it – and that activity tends to generate a lot more “positive” news copy in the long run.

It’s easy to poke at politicians because they sometimes let power or position go to their heads, but those are few and far between (and most of them are in Hale County, Alabama, I believe).

There are plenty of honest, well-intentioned public officials. In fact, in 20 or so years of covering local government, only a small handful I’ve met were rea because people do something about it – and that activity tends to generate a lot more “positive” news copy in the long run.

It’s easy to poke at politicians because they sometimes let power or position go to their heads, but those are few and far between (and most of them are in Hale County, Alabama, I believe).

There are plenty of honest, well-intentioned public officials. In fact, in 20 or so years of covering local government, only a small handful I’ve met were really crooks.

Those stories will continue to be researched and written by the staff at The Demopolis Times. The area, I believe, is fortunate to have such a talented team of people to produce a daily newspaper.

I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with our staff here, and to work with and for the people – readers of our paper and non-readers alike – of Marengo, Hale, Sumter, Greene and Perry counties. Thank you for your friendship.

And by the way, happy birthday to my son Clifton today.