Old ideals and worn out jeans
I came to Demopolis in Feb. 2008 with every intention of putting in two years and moving onto something more glamorous in some place bigger with a paycheck more lucrative.
It’s funny how life scoffs at your plans.
Nearly four and a half years later, here I sit. Same job. Same city. Basically the same pay. And, truth be told, that’s alright.
I could not willingly sacrifice one memory or one experience from my 54 months in the City of the People.
I have gotten to play one-on-one with an NBA All-Star, fish with a Bassmasters Champion, interview the governor, cover state title teams and be recognized with APA awards.
I have been there for the wins of this community’s young people and the losses where their character was forged. I have been there for the big stories and the small ones.
And while all of those things are wonderful experiences and great memories, what has made my time here so tremendous has been the mundane stuff.
It is seeing you at the ball field and hearing how things are going. It is passing you at Walmart and exchanging pleasantries.
It is getting the phone calls or the e-mails to make sure I know about some event that is going on that you would like me to cover.
It is pulling a few extra copies of a particular edition out of the back because your child or grandchild was featured in it and you’re excited to send that one off to family members.
It is checking up on the athletes that I have covered, asking them how their grades are and if they are staying out of trouble.
It is Michael Clements, Glenda Bradley, Raycelia McIntyre, Laura Clements, Mark Trest and a host of others who have donated their time to contribute content to make our product better.
It is conversations with coaches and teachers and principals and mayors and superintendents that aren’t for stories, but are just to take an interest in them as the people they are rather than the titles they carry.
In short, it has been the people I have been able to serve over the last four and a half years that have made this place home.
Rob Pearson told me when I first moved here that if I wore out a pair of jeans in Demopolis I’d never want to leave. I’m wearing my favorite pair as I write this column and they are getting fairly well ventilated. And — as much as I hate to ever tell Rob he is right — I don’t want to leave.
But so much of the relationship that I have with this community exists because this community has always held me to a standard.
From the very beginning, I saw where the bar was for someone in my position and I have always been intent on raising it. And, as I look over the body of work I have put together here, I believe I have succeeded in that endeavor.
Now, we are preparing to welcome Justin Averette to The Times as the new publisher. I encourage you to do with Justin and anyone else who may sit in this chair exactly as you always have with me. Be warm. Be friendly. Be welcoming. And hold them to a standard of involvement, investment and integrity. Those are the three things that make for a great community newspaper. Those are the three things that make for a great community.
Thank you for allowing me to share my experiences, my thoughts and my ideals with you as you have allowed me to share in your stories for four and a half years.
Jeremy D. Smith is the sports editor of The Demopolis Times.
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