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|Leaving The Sun...|
It's hard to say good-bye.
This issue of The Franklin Sun marks my last.
Qualifying for the Oct. 20 primary election opens next week, and I have resigned my position at The Sun to make a run for the office of Franklin Parish Tax Assessor.
Mr. J.W. Dean is retiring after holding the office for some 34 years, and nobody serving in his office plans to run for his seat.
The job is wide open, and it's a good job, just a mile from my house. I'd love to have it.
J.W. has done a great job in the office, and he has also done a great job in ensuring that there will be a smooth transition once he leaves the office. Whoever is elected in November will have the opportunity to work side-by-side with J.W. for more than a year before he retires.
There is no law that says I must resign. The Franklin Sun is a private business, owned by Mary Sue Hanna and the family of the late Sam Hanna.
I could continue working here in some capacity, and I need to be working somewhere with milk pushing $5 a gallon, and two girls in college and a son soon to join them.
For a number of reasons, though, I felt it best that I leave the paper.
I wish I could say that winning the election will be an easy thing to do.
Truthfully, I can't say that.
There are six announced candidates, and I know them all. Some are friends of long standing. Others are new friends. They are all good people.
I wish I could say that I was the only qualified candidate.
I can't say that.
Instead, I would say that there are several highly qualified candidates. I would say that any of the candidates running, if elected, would be able to serve in an honorable and efficient manner.
The 20 years that I have worked at The Sun have been good years for me and my family.
Sam Hanna hired me in 1987, soon after I finished second in an eight-man field of candidates for state representative. Sen. Noble Ellington defeated me in a run-off election that year.
The Lord works in mysterious ways, and losing that election turned out to be a great thing for me.
Instead of going to Baton Rouge, a place I don't really like, I was able to remain at home in Franklin Parish, a place I really love. Debi and I had three children in four years, and I've been here every day to be a part of their lives. It couldn't have been any better.
Being a husband and a father has been the highlight of my life.
And my job at The Sun made it all possible.
For 20 years, now, I've been as close to the fabric of life in Franklin Parish as it is possible to be.
I've witnessed life up close--tragic accidents and horrific murders--floods, droughts and storms of all sorts. I've chronicled triumph and despair on a dozen ball fields and dealt with the masses of humanity on a daily basis.
And month after month after month I have covered the workings of local, parish and state governments--the state Legislature and hospital board and school board, police jury and town councils from Baskin to Wisner.
Sometimes it has not been an easy task to distill, interpret and present the substance of those meetings to the reading public.
In my work as a reporter of the news, I have tried to be fair and accurate. I have not pushed a private agenda, and I have not taken cheap shots at anyone or any public body.
Writing this weekly column for so many years has been just plain fun. I've been able to write about whatever struck my fancy. Not once in all my years at The Sun did Sam Hanna ever pull a column from the paper. He printed everything I wrote, whether he liked it or not. He believed in giving a man enough rope to hang himself, if that's what he wanted.
Sometimes my columns have been serious and sometimes playful, just as I myself am, in turn, serious and playful.
I feel strongly that through the printed word, we have been able to communicate on a warm and personal basis, which is highly unusual in our world of today, filled as it is with e-mails, cell phones and flat-screen TVs.
Warm and personal communication is certainly something that we need more of.
Not that we must always agree with each other.
Without a difference of opinion, there would be no horse races.
I believe people can disagree without being disagreeable, and I believe that the free and open expression of divergent ideas is vital to the strength of our American democracy.
Writing feature stories about the lives of parish veterans has also provided me with much satisfaction. Their stories need to be told and preserved, and talking with our veterans is always a humbling and rewarding experience.
The Franklin Sun is a fine, fine weekly newspaper, and I feel honored to have worked here for 20 years under the tutelage of Sam Hanna and his family.
Just the same, I feel honored to have been a part of your lives. Thanks for allowing me into your home every week. Thanks for allowing me to share my life and the life of my family with you.
And I could not say good-bye without saying a word about my fellow employees at The Sun.
For many years we have worked together side-by-side as a team, and over the many years we have grown closer than most families. Never have I worked with a better bunch of people.
To you, the people of Franklin Parish--
God Bless you all.
And thank you.