We believe in Progress

I once fell asleep standing up at my post during an overnight double shift. Iíve picked rocks from farmerís fields, milked cows, shoveled manure. Iíve doled out cigarettes and lottery tickets as a gas station, scrubbed toilets, operated fork trucks, simultaneously waited on a dozen packed restaurant tables, I even changed fifty or so dirty diapers in a single daycare shift once ... but Iíve never worked so hard at anything as The Evening Sunís annual Progress Chenango edition. Nor have I even been so proud.

Standard for just about any project we carry out at The Evening Sun, motivations for success are drawn from the reputation left behind in our work more than the paycheck we draw.

Our task during this time is to visit the most prominent businesses and organizations in the area so we can convey their roles in the community to the public.

Though each staff writer approaches Progress with their own style, a standard formula usually requires summarizing their histories, explaining what they exactly do, describe in detail the activities of 2010 and the projections for 2011.

These are no ordinary articles; they are required to be about twice as long and more in-depth. I think my average was around 1,200 words in length though a few special features included in the edition can be twice as long. Though I dodged any such project this year, Melissa Stagnaroís roundup for the 2010 Commerce Chenango Award winners is one of these lengthy Progress works of wonder. Last year I was charged with writing an article summarizing the drugs issues in Chenango County, which is still to this day my longest, perhaps my deepest, single piece ever contributed to the paper.

But as Iím sure Mel and my other coworkers can attest, itís not the length of our pieces that makes them good or the prospect of actually writing them thatís the real challenge. Itís that we actually care.

We care because these non-profit organizations, businesses and government agencies are the blood and bones of our entire community. Their successes as a whole are ours as a region. Sometimes the negative tones surrounding our persistent slow economic growth in the area can cast a shadow of over all the hard working people and the opportunities that do exist locally.

So many people seem uniformed of some truly amazing things. Just yesterday my coworkers and I, in a conversation about an unemployed friend, concocted a list of more than a half dozen local employers who told us they were recently hiring. Literally hundreds of potential jobs no more than 25 minutes away. Companies like Unison, Gladding, Raymond and AgroFarma, to name a few.

I found some incredible wonders during while visiting my ten assignments. A man bought a company in Otselic Valley, Gladding Braided Products, out from under bankruptcy in 2004, saving the 40-plus workers laid off at the plant. He did this at huge personal investment and for a company regarded as past its prime by former owners. But the new owner refocused the company and ignored the odds; last year Gladding added a new 10,000 foot expansion and announced its best sales year ever. It is still South Otselicís largest private employer.

Sidney Federal Credit Union built an impressive state of the art headquarters in 2010. The building is a modern marvel of environmental friendliness and energy efficiency, drawing power from two giant solar panels and 28 geothermal wells. It collects rainwater for cleaning, flushing and watering. It has massive glass walls and windows to let in natural light. Thereís even more to it than that, but youíll have to read about it in Progress. Long story short, the building takes half the power to run as the old one and never burns a drop of fossil fuel directly.

Apart from those impressive stories, I find myself wrapped up in all my assignments. I mean you have to imagine it from a writerís point of view. First, your name will be attached to your work for all to see. Youíre the one responsible for getting it right; thereís a lot of trust and the final results are all on you.

I have to grasp enough about these organizations so I can later explain it in basic terms to readers who know virtually nothing about them. All while including as much specific information as possible. Our final works are, of course, scrutinized by those they represent (as they should be), so attention to detail and comprehension is a must.

This might be the most biggest workload we get all year, but in many ways itís also our biggest opportunity to contribute something very special to our own community Ė and not something I can assure you is taken very lighten by any of us here at The Evening Sun. I hope in the end weíve helped Chenango get to know itself a little better.

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesuntyler

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