House of the Rising Sun

Whenever I muster the best glints about being a kid the memories tend to flash to a place tucked away in a green summer forest- just out of sight of the humble Oxford home I grew up in.

Even as an adult I lose myself in the thought of traveling down some country dirt road as it disappears into a vast sea of green Chenango leaves. I want to stop and wade into the woods.

Close your eyes and the sound of rattling leaves makes you feel like you’re standing on an empty and roaring shore. Another fleeting glint of youth might even come splashing back.

I could just calmly rejuvenate by wandering beneath the shade. I wouldn’t mind living in a place dependent on the sense of peace it offers. And so here I am.

The phrase of explanation I’ve found myself using over this past week is “pros and cons,” or as I worded it in a recent job interview: I’d like to think my previous experience makes me even more appreciative of the area, but it also casts no illusions on the rigor of being a small-town newspaper man.

The obvious truth is this: there is only one part of the world that really gives a flying damn about Chenango County and that’s the people and businesses of Chenango County. The Evening Sun cares.

One way or another it has long been the source of our worst appeals and best offers.

The nearer to or off the ledge of economic independence you are, the more likely your tribe is probably tied to the former instead of the latter. Most make the best of it though. That, in essence, is what makes the best parts of our community.

Growing up locally, the first-hand experience taught me the antithesis of freedom is certainly poverty. Call it financial independence or an economically stable lifestyle, whatever.

Every tragedy, every realized dream, every story you hear, you begin to understand that they all carry significant meaning. Every experience, even the bad ones, have enriched my own personal outlook on life. The more I’m able to explore the small world around us, the more I realize how much there is to it.

I found myself revisiting an Oxford staple, Mr. Chubb’s Restaurant, earlier this week. I listened in on a conversation between a senior citizen and the store owner, while munching on the kind of wholesome and affordable diner food you only find in rural, family-run businesses.

The woman sought a humble donation for a senior citizen event, but before she could even finish asking, the man turned around and donated twice as much.

The woman thanked him graciously, and he shrugged it off with a smile, saying “of course,” and shaking his head. They then struck up a friendly and familiar conversation about their local connections, that kind of thing happens thousands of times across the county each day. The wonderful strangeness of it made me feel that maybe I lived in the City of Albany too long.

When I first became a reporter for The Evening Sun nearly a decade and a half ago, I felt a little lost. The community is closely knit. I felt I had to develop my own sense of who people were and how 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. I’ve come a long way.

Being a reporter in our small town has granted me access to things my counterparts in larger areas will never have and a trust only close communities share. Calling any local official, for example, and having a shot-in-Hades of talking to them in the next hour- definitely a pro.

To sum my view up on the other side of things: A woman in a recent article criticized our reporters for publishing a crime story that impacted her negatively. Besides the fact the press release was probably emailed to about 40 news organizations and then published across the region, I personally believe we each are responsible for our own actions, not the newspaper.

Don’t bother calling us to keep your name out of the blotter, we won’t. And if lawsuits were of any use the pages would’ve been blank a long time ago.

A tip for the politicians: Don’t say anything in public that’s not meant for public consumption. I know how pesky this can be at those public board meetings and court hearings when there are controversial things to debate. There’s a time and place for things to go off the record – in the middle of a controversial topic during a public meeting is not one of them.

I believe differences of opinion aren’t just reserved for board seats, the jury box or elected officials; every voter, taxpayer or citizen is entitled to theirs, and if my job is done correctly it will hopefully be an informed opinion. From my point of view, the most informed are the readers who are well versed in a topic’s controversy.

There are certainly some big things happening nearby. The story I’ve been asked about most since coming back is the recent guilty plea of Travis St. Denny, the Norwich dancer and former dance teacher, who according to the District Attorney’s Office, molested and filmed child porn involving local youths. His sentencing is coming up soon and I promise The Evening Sun will be there in all our depth.

Just as important though will be our renewed focus on community, dedicating our efforts to covering the upcoming Blues Fest, county fair and Colorscape. Not to mention the pending return of several community based features.

I’ve also heard credible rumors of some pending resignations involving our local judgeships. As with our last county and city elections, The Sun is already keeping a close eye on these stories, should they develop.

Regardless of what happens, I promise the readers, as long as I work here at least, The Sun will rise.

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29 Lackawanna Avenue, Norwich, NY 13815 - (607) 334-3276
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