I’m so glad we had this time together

Once upon a time several years ago, a young pup reporter learned the hard way a half-baked question can ofter garner a humorous answer.

Imagine that reporter’s surprise when the late Cecil Clark, at more than 100 years old, still had a mind as sharp as a tack and responded to a silly question with a truly epic comeback.

“How has the cemetery business changed over the years?” the reporter inquired.

“There’s more dead people in it,” Clark said, without missing a beat.

Egg on the face? No yolks about it.

But even that young reporter had to crack a smile.

After all, life’s just a big learning experience. One might as well just go for the gusto and take a big ol’ leap of faith while doing it.

I’ve done my best to adhere to that mindset ever since the crew at the Hays Free Press offered me a chance to report the news seven years ago.

I’ll continue to take that mindset to heart this week as my tenure as editor comes to a close. Starting Sept. 16, I’ll embark on a new opportunity as Hays CISD’s first full-time photographer and digital correspondent. Never fear, however, as you’ll still see my byline covering sports in this here newspaper.

Putting into words the amount of gratitude I have toward this publication and its lead staff is so, so difficult.

Mostly because they all played an integral role in shaping the person I am today, both in journalism and life itself.

It has been an absolute honor serving as editor and news reporter of one of the best newspapers in Texas, continuing a legacy that’s been upheld by my predecessors for generations. It’s also been an honor working and learning under one of the best bosses in the business, whose support, instruction and advocacy is beyond compare.

I cannot thank Cyndy Slovak-Barton enough for everything she’s done for me. I also cannot thank production manager David White enough for helping this wayward soul discover he takes photos 2 degrees off axis.

I truly owe them a taco and a few beers. No, seriously, I’m pretty sure my tab is still open.

Perhaps what brings me the most pride is the opportunity to have been the voice, eyes and ears for an area I’ve called home for roughly two decades.

That’s why I must give a heartfelt thank you to you, our readers, for your support and (yes) your criticisms.

After all, few can claim they made a difference in the community they grew up in.

It’s my hope that I learned, listened and acted enough to have earned your trust.

Pinpointing the most memorable moments during my tenure is a challenge. Partly because remembering every story over course of seven years is practically impossible.

I’m lucky if I remember what I write week-to-week, to be honest.

At the same time, I’ve always welcomed the chance to cover it all for our readers, no matter how big or small or good or bad or whether we agreed or not.

Truthfully, it wasn’t always easy covering those moments. Quite frankly, it was a little rough at times.

Six to seven hour city council meetings will change a person. So can covering a major flood, fatality wreck or a fire.

But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I took a giant leap of faith all those years ago, choosing to leave a job as a cashier at a grocery store to become a reporter despite not having any experience in the field whatsoever.

I did so because I believe – and will always believe – in local, community journalism and the vital role it plays in our society.

And so should you.

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