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Editor's notes: The fun is about to start anew, maybe
Jeff Whitten

To misquote Yogi Berra, it seems like deja vu all over again. I am back as editor.

“Wait a second,” you say. “What do you mean, back? You write a dumb column all the time.”

I know. But here’s the rub. For the past two years I was also editor of the Coastal Courier. Actually, I was managing editor — which is allegedly a different and more exalted sort of animal than a regular editor. That managing part, well, suffice it to say my management skills kind of start and stop with, “hey, good job, thanks.”

Also suffice it to say that being an editor, managing or otherwise, of two newspapers is harder than regular cheese.

In short, whenever I was there I should’ve been here, and whenever I was here I should’ve been there. Hard cheese, folks.

Now, here’s where the “I’m back” part comes in. As some may recall, I was editor of this paper from 2006 to 2010. Boy did we have fun.

And, here’s where the deja vu part comes up: When I got here for the first time a dozen years ago South Bryan was growing like a house on fire. Kind of like now.

There was during that time a great deal of spirited debate about said growth and we at this newspaper covered it like a cloud of the couple of gnats we used to be, to steal and mangle a line used at the George-Anne back in the 1990s.

Note: I don’t remember who the George-Anne stole the cloud of gnats line from but it doesn’t matter. What matters is we were there through it all, we reporters at the Bryan County News, doing our best to inform readers of everything that wasn’t nailed down and some things that were.

At one point we covered an effort by one South Bryan resident to move the county seat from Pembroke to Richmond Hill. That petition garnered some signatures but ultimately failed.

Pembroke is still county seat. I know because I was just there the other day and saw the courthouse.

Yet that petition to grab county-seat status from folks in North Bryan was perhaps the least chippy thing that went on in those days before the economy tanked, and people suddenly had more important things to worry about, like survival. Well, the economy’s been back for some for a while. Good to hear.

Newspapers aren’t back. Nowadays, the industry is facing serious economic challenges. I may be offering opinions on them in this space from time to time, or someone else more qualified might.

Or, newspapers might dry up and blow away, and be replaced by Facebook and Russian trolls and PR firms.

I know. It’ll never happen. Some folks might not like the press, but some folks also don’t like cops (why don’t you go arrest real criminals instead of sitting here running a speed trap?) or lawyers (hey, who does?), either — until they need us. Then suddenly we’re good guys. Or at least, we’re tolerable.

I get it. There are times I don’t like me either.

But ask yourself where this country would be without muckrackers like Ben Franklin? Where would we be if only trustworthy government condoned media was around when Canadians burned the White House? We’d all be British, like the great Lesley Francis, whom I tend to think rather highly of. Or at the least, we’d be Canadians and more polite to our neighbors.

While all this gets hashed out, over the next few months I plan to get reacclimated to Bryan County and cover as many beats as I can.

Now, five things about me for those who are reading for the first time.

1. I’m from a long, long, long line of South Carolinians and (it turns out) some Virginians and North Carolinians, and was born and raised a Gamecock, but I also was raised all over the world because my folks didn’t want to spend their lives on a mill hill somewhere in the Upstate. Dad joined the Army and I learned the world is bigger than us.

2. I am a founding member of the Pembroke Mafia Football League, which my buddy B.J. Clark created. We’ll crank up another season this year and the lineup might change. I hear there’s a man of the cloth out there interested in becoming our spiritual advisor. I think we need one.

3. I went to college for at least part of three decades before getting a degree in journalism from Georgia Southern. I went there to finish up because the football team ran the triple option and won I-AA championships under great men like Erk Russell and Paul Johnson. Besides, I’d already done my time at USC.

4. I have lots of heroes, including the men and women who volunteer to serve their country in a time of war. That means there are a whole lot of them over on Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield right now. And, FYI, so are cops and firefighters and paramedics. And my folks. And Wendy Sims. And Bonnie Proctor.

And H.L. Mencken. Look him up.

5. I spent six years in the Army in field artillery. Two of those years were at Fort Bragg, three were in Germany and my last one was here at Fort Stewart.

Probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done Army-wise, besides not getting promoted past E-4, was help shoot a Lance missile from the NATO Missile Firing Installation into the Mediterranean and then drink ouzo on the beachwhile tan topless women frolicked about. Why? Because that’s what tan topless women do on beaches in the Mediterranean. They frolic. At least, they used to. I have not been to the Mediterranean in a while.

Anyhow, we lower enlisted soldiers later spent hours in Chania after curfew hiding from the first sergeant and his posse of NCOs. When I woke up about noon the next day there was a Greek maid who looked like Danny Devito in an apron. She was swatting at me with a broom and yelling in a foreign language because there were about 18 stray dogs in my barracks room.

It turned out I had apparently decided to be a one-man humane society and put them all up for the night. And if you can top that, you probably have a DD-214 too. Now, let’s have some fun and do some news.

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