This and that from here and there, just not quite everything from everywhere…

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 26, 2006

Newbies in town have a lot of observations and ideas. So every now and then I’ll pull the old columnist’s trick of “cleaning out the notebook.”

Truth be told, it can be used as a crutch when you just can’t come up with anything useful to write about. I promise that’s not the case now. I don’t promise I’ve never used it that way or I won’t in the future. At least I’m honest about it.

We said goodbye to Andriena Baldwin on Friday. As I wrote in an earlier column, I promise that I’m here for a while, but I can’t promise the same for others.

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Andriena is a perfect example. She’s young, bright and a dedicated journalist. She’s on her way up, and I’m glad I had at least a few weeks to know her.

She will do well in Monroe. While I hate to lose her and wished that she was at least moving to a sister newspaper, I wish her all the best.

The highest compliment that can be paid to our newspaper is when someone moves on to a larger market to better themselves on the way up their career ladder.

Her farewell column is below. Make sure you drop her a line and wish her the best.

While Andriena is leaving, James Gilmore has arrived. You should have noticed his byline in the sports section over the past couple of weeks.

James lives here in Demopolis, arriving via retirement from being a firefighter in Detroit.

He met our editor, Griffin Pritchard, while stringing for The Selma Times-Journal covering high school football.

James brings an immediate impact to our newsroom. His touch on the sports pages will become increasingly clearer as we move forward. And he’s becoming an avid photographer. I’m excited about what he will come up with in the future.

You can read more about James on our front page today.

Jan McDonald is a Demopolis treasure, at least in humble, first-impression opinion.

She was one of the first people I met, and she’s one of the people I repeatedly see. That speaks to the level of involvement Jan has in this community.

We seem to hit it off because we share two strong passions: journalism and education.

The Demopolis City School Foundation is a tremendous organization. When Jan speaks of it – especially the opportunity to take its helm following in the footsteps of someone she admired – her eyes beam.

The same thing happens when she speaks of the work she did here at the newspaper. Last week she showed me an old edition of Progress she helped publish. It was a great treasure of hers.

My goal is to return The Times to that level of prestige. I don’t think we’re too far from it, because we’ve had dedicated people here throughout the years.

But I know we do have a little bit of work to do, and people like Jan inspire me to work with the staff to make sure we get where we’re going.

Football season is upon us, and I’m excited about that. One of my favorite parts of fall is the start of high school football.

For the past few years, I’ve followed the Forest (Miss.) Bearcats. They started their season on Thursday. Unfortunately, they fell to rival Magee, 20-13.

That doesn’t mean anything to anyone around here, but Friday night’s matchups surely will. My wife and I plan on being regular fixtures in the Demopolis Tiger stands. We’ll travel a good bit as well. It’s what we do, and I just hate we’re not completely moved and settled here, which means we may miss a few games.

I think it’s been three years since I’ve missed a hometown football game. Just means I’ll have to start a new streak.

I live in the Holiday Inn Express right now. Supposedly I should be smarter for it, but I can’t say that’s the case.

I will say, however, that I’ve been impressed by the level of customer service from most everyone in the building. It’s the little things.

I’ve found that kind of attitude indicative of the people I’ve met thus far. It sure makes the late nights and early mornings nicer.

Sam R. Hall is publisher of The Times. He can be reached by e-mail to