This is among the last pieces I’ll ever write for the Bryan County News.
Friday is my last day with the paper, and come June 1 I’m headed back to my native Michigan.
I moved here in 2015 from the Great Lake State due to my wife’s job. It’s amicable, but she has since moved on to a different life in a different state, and it’s time for me to do the same.
My son Thomas, an RHHS grad as of Saturday, also is headed back to Michigan to play basketball for a small school near Ann Arbor called Concordia University. My daughter, Erin, is in law school at University of Toledo. She had already begun her college volleyball career at Lourdes University in Ohio when we moved down here and had no desire to leave the Midwest.
With both of them and the rest of my family up north, there’s no reason for me to stay here. I haven’t missed winter one bit, but I’m sure I won’t miss the sand gnats, either.
Shortly after we arrived here in 2015, I got a job in communications with a certain art school in Savannah for a few short months. It was both personally and professionally toxic and I’ll leave it at that.
In March 2016 I signed on with the Bryan County News as assistant editor and I’ve loved every minute of it. My “first” newspaper career, in the late 80s and early 90s, was great. But when I left it to work in politics and later with a free-market think tank, I never pictured myself as an ink-stained wretch again.
Like they say, never say never.
During my time here at the News, I’ve covered everything that came along. That’s one big difference between working for a weekly as opposed to a daily paper. Reporters at a daily paper have a “beat” to cover. At a weekly paper like this, you cover … life. Sports, features, government meetings, crime, fundraisers, parades, festivals, successes, failures and everything in between. Oh, and hurricanes. Two of them. I’ll take a winter blizzard over that any day.
Along the way I’ve met a lot of great people. Volunteers, business owners, pastors, students, athletes, teachers, coaches, co-workers, first responders, veterans, soldiers and yes, even some politicians.
And I learned that the same adrenalin rush from covering “breaking news” that I experienced right out of college is still just as exciting nearly 30 years later.
With as much as I’ve written about the population increase and traffic problems, at least for a few short minutes my departure means there will be one less vehicle clogging up local roads. At least until I pass three or four moving vans headed this way as I get on northbound I-95.
The hub-bub over growth here can be humorous, unintentional and ironic all at once. We often get comments on our Facebook page that go something like this: “I’ve lived here for (usually less than five years) and the growth is out of control! We need a moratorium on new construction.”
It’s like people who move into phase I of “Walden Woods” subdivision after all the trees are cleared out and then complain about trees being cut down for phase II.
Bryan County will always hold a special place in my heart and I definitely plan on visiting again someday. My hope is that my boss, Jeff Whitten (one of the best I’ve ever had), will let me continue to be part of the Pembroke Mafia Football League from afar. If the Corleone family could expand to Vegas, there’s no reason the PMFL can’t expand to Michigan.
But the main reason I want to return someday is about that traffic issue. After all, I’ll need to see it with my own eyes before I’ll believe that Highway 144 actually got widened.