I left my parents’ home in the West Virginia Panhandle steel town of Weirton and drove 84 miles west to a little town of Coshocton.
That was July 1980 as I began my career as a sports/feature writer for The Coshocton Tribune and Thomson Newspapers.
Editor Ed Looman hired me to work there, and thus I began a near 42-year journey as a newspaper reporter and editor.
Seven moves; nine newspapers and thousands of editions later it is coming to an end. At least as a full-time employee.
I came to Mount Gilead 4 and ½ years ago to escape the daily newspaper grind and work for The Morrow County Sentinel.
Soon I will leave that position and embark on a new chapter, one that may include — of all things — writing sports and feature stories as a freelancer.
I guess that’s called coming full circle from that summer day when I got in the ‘73 Gremlin I bought from my friend Jay and drove to a city I had never seen to begin covering high school sports.
It was my dream. That dream has been fulfilled — and then some.
But as age creeps in a little more and as newspaper budgets tighten, life decisions need to be made. This is one I’ve pondered for quite a while.
And I know it’s the right one. It will be different; it may even hurt a little. But after Feb. 8, I no longer will be responsible for putting out this newspaper.
That’ll be different. This business is all I’ve known and loved.
I got downsized during that terrible recession in 2008 from Gannett while serving as editor and general manager in Bucyrus. I left the business for a few years, working on political campaigns and in public affairs.
It was a difficult transition, but I enjoyed that time and made a lot of friends. It wasn’t my calling.
Writing and editing were and still are why I was put on this earth. I was fortunate to return to that in 2012 and remain employed the past decade.
I did two stints as managing editor at The Marion Star, the last one from 2014-2016. I also worked as an editor in Mansfield, Urbana, Washington Court House, Delaware and my hometown of Weirton at the age of 26.
From county fair ribbon winners to grisly murder trials, I’ve written most everything imaginable. I’ve edited thousands of stories written by others, built countless pages and taken lots of photos and even a few videos.
It’s been challenging, rewarding and — honestly at times — exhausting.
Yet it’s seldom been dull and I never regretted my decision to choose this occupation. But above all else, I truly believe it chose me and for that I remain grateful.
I’m also grateful to the loyal readers of The Sentinel and those whose stories we’ve told. Thank you and may God bless you.