The end of Progress, the end of an era

Today marks the 9th and 10th, the final installments in our Progress Chenango 2013 edition. The multi-section comprehensive annual look at Chenango’s economic, political and social health has been rolling out, two sections per day, all this week. In case you missed an edition, or if you’d like to have it all in one fell swoop, we’re also making Progress Chenango available in its entirety at the Pennysaver front desk starting next week for $1.50. A bit after that, we’ll make the whole thing available in PDF form on our website for free.

As I’m sure we’ve beaten you over the head with over the past month or so in columns, blogs and tweets, Progress is a massive undertaking for a newspaper with a small staff such as ours – countless hours go into interviewing businesses, taking photographs, selling and producing ads, writing, layout and printing – it’s a project which consumes literally every member of our staff (and isn’t easy on the paper carriers, either!) for the first part of every new year.

It’s a publication that, despite how we moan and groan about the extra work, we are incredibly proud to publish every year. Not only does it reflect some of our best work – more importantly it reflects the best Chenango County has to offer.



That’s the key here, really; showing that Chenango County is, indeed, making progress. It’s far too easy to look around town (any town) and mourn what we’ve lost or want for what we lack. It takes a little more effort to appreciate what we have and to see where we’re willing and able to go.

Not that the picture’s all rosy, of course. While Progress Chenango largely shows the positive, there are also businesses big and small profiled within that detail their trials and tribulations, their struggles to survive in a difficult and ever-changing economy. And there are myriad issues before us which continue to divide the community as we debate their merits, and scramble to find answers.

But that’s the real Chenango County – the good with the bad, the perseverance and the ingenuity to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It’s how we’ve managed to weather storms both literal and figurative. It’s how we’ve made Progress.

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Turning the page, today marks the end of Progress Chenango, but it’s also another, more melancholy milestone at The Evening Sun – the “retirement” of longtime reporter Melissa deCordova. I enclose retirement in quotations because she is, of course, far too young to fade off into the sunset, and more than likely never to stop working in some capacity. But alas, today’s her last day as a reporter on the staff of Chenango County’s Hometown Daily, a position she’s held, this time around, for the past nine years.

What many people may not remember is that this isn’t Melissa’s first tour of duty in the ES newsroom. On my first day, back in 1990, Melissa was already sitting at a desk – back when we were on Hale Street – her employment here preceding mine by a year or so. She left about six months later to raise a family – but not before imparting on me, the newbie, the wealth of her accumulated reporter knowledge. I always jokingly say that she was mean to me when I first began working here, but that’s not really the case. As has become custom for all fledgling reporters in the past decade or so, Melissa tends to impart that aforementioned job knowledge sans any semblance of sugar coating. That’s exactly what a new reporter needs. On her most recent go-around at the paper, with me playing boss this time, we’ve fallen into an unspoken, but effective, good cop/bad cop routine for training the cubbies. It’s a system that’s served us – and them – well, and one I’ll miss immeasurably.

I could always count on Melissa deCordova to cut to the heart of the matter at hand with alacrity and often biting insight (that’s my polite way of saying that she probably swears in the office more than I do). We’ve come to know each other so well over the past two decades that I know exactly where she can be most effective, and she knows when to be the yin to my yang. Leaving that kind of working relationship behind today would be hard enough were I not also losing a longtime friend and trusted confidante in the office.

Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes, Billy Joel was fond of singing. I’m afraid it’s time for goodbye again.

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