The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

March 22, 2013

I’m homeward bound ... well, at least a little closer

By Brian Graves, Staff Writer
The Stanly News & Press

Friday, March 22, 2013 — I have the clearest memories of my first trip to Stanly County.

One of those being finally getting to Albemarle Road on the outskirts of Char-lotte and thinking I must be close then feeling lost for the next several miles.

That day was seven months ago.

Since then, I’ve learned my way around pretty well, and I had every intention of sticking around for awhile.

But, life always has some surprises up its sleeve and can change your plans in a split second.

I am very much someone who does not like to be far from my home and family.

All of you who have gotten to know me over these past few months know I stay constantly homesick and take advantage of every opportunity to get back home.

They say “Home is where the heart is” and my heart is always close to my family.

I have heard so many of you talk in the same way about Stanly County and your hometowns and families.

So, I believe you will all understand that when the opportunity presented itself to take a position much closer to what I call “home,” it was impossible to say “no.”

That means my days here at the SNAP must come to an end.

I have been fortunate to have met so many of you as I wandered the paths and roads around here.

There is an infinite list of interesting and unique personalities that dot the Stanly County history and landscape, and I have only been able to scratch the surface of that list.

If I tried to mention everyone I feel gratitude to for making my brief stay here as inviting as it was, I would without a doubt leave out someone as important as the others.

There are some groups in general to whom I do need to say a public thanks.

First, to the staff and members of the Stanly County Commission.

I appreciate you developing a trust with me that helped me do my job better. Without your cooperation, my job would have been impossible.

To the Albemarle Fire Department, you are an incredible bunch of people with as good a chief as I have run into over these last decades.

Although I didn’t cover the city, I was glad I got to do a few stories on your department, telling everyone what they deserve to know — just how good you are at what you do.

And, I’ll never forget being chauffeured in the new fire truck by the chief himself!

To Sheriff Rick Burris and the sheriff’s office, you had an open door and call anytime policy when it came time to having to answer my questions.

I stand impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the entire county law enforcement team. The county is fortunate to have you on watch for them.

To Paul, Krista and the county economic development team, I hope I helped out letting the citizens here know what a difficult job you have and the top-notch professionals who are doing that job for them.

To the staff, council and town of Locust, I hold you in such high regard.

I have never worked with such a municipal team as I have seen work in your town.

It is an amazing city with some amazing people who I will never forget.

To the staff, council and town of Richfield, I guess I owe more than most.

Your town and people are so great, it made me go off the reservation a bit to chide the council members and mayor about some of the arguing that did not reflect well on the town.

To their credit, members of the council and the mayor took those criticisms well and to heart.

Richfield is a town with a lot of promise and some very good people.

I hope what I said and did turns out to be constructive toward a bright future.

Finally, to the incredible team I found myself a part of here at the SNAP.

To our publisher, Sandy Selvy, thanks for being more of a big sister than a boss and understanding the pangs and pains of being by yourself so far from home.

To our editor, B.J., it was an honor to serve under your editorial guidance and, believe it or not, even though I’ve been doing this a long time, I learned a lot from you I’ll use as my career goes forward.

To my colleagues in the newsroom, Justin, Ian, Jason, Charles and Penny, I thank you for accepting me and becoming more than co-workers, but friends. You are as good or better than anyone I have ever worked with in this business. Your friendships, as much as any I have, I will cherish and hope to keep intact for a lifetime.

And finally, to our readers.

I have never worked anywhere my phone or e-mail received more messages from people who took the time to say I was doing a good job.

There are always those who find the time to do otherwise, and I’m fine with that. I’m not perfect.

But, when someone takes the time to send out a positive note, that is extra special.

I take with me so many memories and new friends, saying goodbye is hard.

But, I remember when President Richard Nixon gave his farewell speech to the White House staff members the day of his resignation in 1974.

“There’s no good word for it in English,” he said. “The French word is better. ‘Au revoir’ which means ‘We’ll meet again.’ ”

That is sort of how I feel right now.

I don’t want to say goodbye, so let me just say “thanks” and we will meet again.

May God continue to bless Stanly County and all who call it home.