This is my final column as an Evening Sun writer and I could think of no better topic than expressing my appreciation. When I try to think back upon some the first stories I wrote for the paper, beginning in August of 2006, it seems like forever ago. According to our electronic archive, I’ve submitted 1,516 articles during that time. In just a little less than three years, Photoshop tells me I’ve downloaded more than 20,000 images from my camera.
Each picture and each story represents a series of experiences unto themselves. My memories in putting them together include thousands of conversations with hundreds of people from all walks of life, most of them local. Some people I would see again and often, others never.
When I came into the job I felt a little lost. The community is closely knit. It was like suddenly being called to appear in the King’s Court for the first time. I felt I had to develop my own sense of who people were and how the they all interacted together. Though new to me, there was already an established social order to things. I think a lot of my early days were just spent trying not to embarrass myself while I slowly pieced how it all came together.
Though I had read The Evening Sun on a few occasions prior, at the time I was hired I felt completely ignorant of all things local. Like a lot of young people who grow up here, I felt the boredom of a one red light lifestyle grinding away my sanity. I think there is an easy tendency to attach undue resentment and bitterness to one’s hometown when frustrated by our own lives. There’s certainly a pace to life here most others would find a bit slower than the rest of the world’s apparent speed. Before being hired, I can’t say I ever really worried much about local politics or any hometown issue.
There is this point in the pro-con debate of Chenango County for all those who live here, where I think we realize all the once seemingly negative things are the area’s positive highlights. I’ve come to love and enjoy our remote peace from the rest of the world. I like how there are still places we can drive in the country and not hear any sound apart from nature. I like being able to see more stars in our darker rural skies. I enjoy the small town atmosphere. Though all of us can admit familiarity can sometimes cause a sense of dread (especially in those quick PJ runs to the grocery store) but more often it’s reassuring. It’s been so easy to meet so many. A conversation seems to be around every corner and where I once avoided random discussions, I now find myself making friendly jokes while waiting in line at the gas station.
There have been a number of people this past week who’ve approached me over my recently announced plans to leave the paper and move to Albany. A handful of them, four or five people, told me they never met me before but wanted to just say, “I liked what you wrote and wish you luck.” I hate admitting to even the slightest degree of celebrity; it’s not the word I would choose. But there is certainly an avid group of readers out there who have made themselves known to me over the years. I thank all of you for your interest, even the ones who respectfully approached me because of a complaint or a difference of opinion.
Today I find myself carrying a small degree of anxiety as I get ready to depart The Evening Sun and the area this weekend. It seems like it took so long to find, but I feel like I have a place here. Both as a reporter and as someone who’s basically lived here their entire life. I will not forget it.
My Editor Jeff Genung, there’s a name I couldn’t forget if I tried. Jeff’s been my boss here for what must feel like a thousand years to him. I joke. Jeff and I have been through a lot and while our somewhat different personalities may have disagreed some over the last five years, there have been very few as beneficial relationships. I just wanted to say “thanks Jeff” for opening my eyes to the world. Under his guidance, the newsroom has been one of open debate, intelligent discussion and practical worth. A famous journalist once said “a healthy newsroom is one where people argue all the time.” If such is the case, I’m just glad I could contribute so much to the health of The Evening Sun. I couldn’t imagine a more disciplined boss or encouraging friend – thank you.
Thank you to our Publisher Dick Snyder, who’s always gone the extra step for me. I would never have had an opportunity to work here if it wasn’t for him.
I will miss my colleague Melissa deCordova, who’s been working along side me since day one. I’m still inspired by her directness, strength, beauty and class.
Also Melissa Stagnaro and Brian Golden are two of the most professional colleagues I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. Melissa Stagnaro will be taking over the crime beat when I leave and I’m certain she’ll do a great job. Good luck Brian in covering all of Norwich.
I’m sorry but there just isn’t enough time or space to say goodbye to everyone. This Saturday I will finish packing my things with my lovely girlfriend, Colleen Ingerto, and will be leaving the area. We’ll be moving in together in Albany, where she currently does graphic design work at the Times Union. I myself will be doing some freelance photography and writing. Hopefully I can return to school soon and begin the long road to one day obtaining my law degree.
I wish you all the best and please don’t worry.