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Dee McLelland: The house between the papers
Dee McLelland new

There’s a house in between the Coastal Courier and Bryan County News offices.

The front yard had a huge bare spot amongst otherwise full grass. The grass was a light brown at the time and the bare spot seemed out of place and I wondered, being somewhat of a “yard bird” what they would do to fill it in.

When I first arrived in Liberty, Long and Bryan County in March of 2020, we were only 10 days away from hearing the news about a new virus that was starting to pop up. Covid-19.

Not two weeks into my tenure as Publisher of the two papers, the nation, the world, started shutting down. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be and what in the world I could do to make an impact, much like I wondered what the folks would do with that front yard.

Along with my excellent staff, we held things together and brought the news of our communities to our readers. We weren’t perfect, but we did the job. For that I will always be proud.

We worked remotely, we worked separately, we worked long and hard hours. For a time, almost two months to be exact, I also was our delivery guy, dropping off papers at post offices and racks throughout the counties. 40-hour weeks during that time weren’t common, 65-70 hour weeks were.

I loved every minute of it and despite the long hours and working late into the night and early mornings, it never failed that I would look at the front yard each time I travelled between the two papers. I caught myself even looking over when I was driving during the night.

During the past almost two years, our great staff, Jeff Whitten, Mark Swendra, Hollie Lewis, Patty Leon, Caitlyn Smoyer, Jeff DeYoung, Cindy White, Eliese Bowles, Chandra Hughes, Addie Ricketson, Nick Reardon, Gerald Thomas III, Josh Mabry, Lewis Levine, Lawrence Dorsey and Henry Blair have worked hard writing and delivering you the news both in print and on our digital platforms.

It’s funny, but I almost think, and some folks will find this funny too, that we, the newspapers, were grass seed.

Of course, any good seed needs fertilizer and thankfully, we have had our federal, county and city governments and school boards provide us with plenty of that.

Damn, that’s funny too.

I know everyone doesn’t share the same opinions as I do, but that’s the way it should be. I believe we have been fair in showing both sides of most stories and that’s what good newspapers do.

Over time, that bare spot in the front yard started to fill in. I smiled each time that I passed and the twigs of grass seemed to get bigger and thicker. The bare spot was disappearing.

My time here in Liberty, Bryan and Long County has been rewarding and challenging. It’s time I wouldn’t trade for anything, but it has come to an end.

The Coastal Courier and the Bryan County News need your support, be it advertising or subscriptions. You can read us in print and online, but if you don’t support your community newspapers they will cease to exist.

If you think we have enough “fertilizer” now as I mentioned before, what do you think would happen if the newspapers weren’t there as a defender? I think you know the answer as much as I do.

We would have mounds of it.

As I announced my retirement last week I was tempted to stop and take a look at the front yard that was bare back in March of 2020. The grass was thick and full all across the yard. An amazing transformation since March of 2020.

I’d like to think and hope that my time here made a difference.

If you see me, say “Hey!”

Dee McLelland is Publisher of the Coastal Courier and Bryan County News.

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