This will be my last column as editor of the St. James Leader-Journal, as I have taken a job at another newspaper out of state.
In almost two years, I have come to know many in this community. St. James is a jewel in mid-Missouri, and my time here has been an affirmative experience.
My loud mouth and insatiable appetite for watchdog journalism hasn’t exactly made me the most popular guy on the block, but I made it out alive – and that’s always a good thing.
If this isn’t strange enough, one of the things I will miss most are my late-night drives.
I spend a lot of late nights/early mornings behind this desk.
As a single man, I need to unwind after sitting still for hours at a time, so I like to drive the back roads and think.
I have spent many nights in the rain, sleet and snow, driving the two-lane roads of Phelps County, listening to the radio, trying to quiet my mind enough to go home and sleep. I know some of these roads as well as the fine folks who have lived here all their lives.
Another thing I will miss is the music scene in Rolla.
After a few months, I met Mike and Tina Lillie, who set me up with a regular gig at C&M Billiards. Not only did I have a venue to play music on a regular basis, but I also made some great friends in the process.
Mike and Tina also sent me to New Orleans to try out for the X-Factor, which was a bust, but it was an experience I will never forget.
The musicians in Phelps County are a fun bunch. Like any other city, there is the inescapable feuding among musicians, but Rolla musicians – like my Memphis brothers and sisters – can do anything they want.
The one wish I had back home was that we would spend more time playing music together and operate as a cohesive unit.
But like the numerous sects of Christianity, each respective group is convinced their way is better.
All the while, everyone loses.
I hope to see that change, because it isn’t difficult to be inspired by a Rolla musician – not difficult at all.
Last but not least, I will miss the sense of community in Phelps County. When warm weather comes to town, there is always something going on. I love how there is always something to do in St. James and Rolla on the weekends.
The Farmers Markets are some of the best in the region. The Grape and Fall Festival, Summerfest, Grape Jam, Old Iron Works Days and Sip N Savor events are never disappointing.
The people of this community put a lot of effort into making these events unforgettable every year.
I hope to see Phelps County continue to prosper.
I hope my successor comes to love St. James and Rolla the way I have. And to everyone who calls St. James home, I thank you for your support and kindness along the way. You are a wonderful community of people.
Take care of yourselves and each other.
Ponder that!