Guest Column: The calm after the storm
I now know just how Dorothy Gale felt when a storm ripped apart her world, sent her on a new adventure and in the end had to say fond goodbyes to new friends.
The difference between Dorothy and I is she was able to take her dog on the adventure and the tornado hit and the house fell at the end of my tale. Still, we both have people to thank for the extraordinary time we spent away from home.
Madison County was not my home, but it became my home away from home for 20 years. I spent 15 years working as a photojournalist and five years as a news reporter and it was a thrilling adventure. As a photographer I had the pleasure of seeking out interesting images on a daily basis of life in Madison County. The last five years I transitioned to using words instead of pictures to tell the stories of the people and organizations in the county.
I loved the challenge of proving people wrong, that I could write interesting stories (with little formal training) about life in Madison County. I am most proud of the fact that I am the only person in the history of this newspaper to win a first place Associated Press award for a written story and a first place award for Sports Photograph of the Year, both in the same year no less.
I don’t cherish those wooden plaques as much as I cherish the countless friends I have met along this journey. There are countless people who have helped me to entertain readers, a list so long it would fill the eight pages of a daily paper. Still, I will try.
I will start with all of the police, fire and government individuals who keep Madison County safe and ensure justice. There are also those dedicated professionals who work hard to educate the next generation of adults in this county in four school districts. I have had the pleasure to work with many outstanding churches who strive to fill the spiritual needs of people in the community.
Senior citizens played an important role in my job as a reporter and I sadly say thank you to all of the folks at the Madison County Senior Citizens Center (I have always said it is the “hidden jewel” of Madison County) and my many friends, especially Mary Richey, at Madison Senior Living. I will miss you all.
Finally, no place has as many close friends as the Village of West Jefferson. As a reporter covering their village I strived to inform the residents, whose lives kept them too busy to attend meetings, of the activities and the special people who were working for the good of the village. Mayor Darlene Steele and all of the council members and village employees work with dedication to improve life in the village for the residents who call the village home. The village is also fortunate to have a school district with many talented teachers and administrators who have the important job of educating students and they take that responsibility seriously.
The community is also blessed to have the great saints at the Good Samaritan Food Pantry who take immaculate care of those less fortunate in the area. I also have many good friends who have invited me to become a part of the activities of the Jeffersonian Senior Citizens. Thanks to Virginia Miller and Ada Cochran who have been especially kind to me and I will promise to stop in for a future potluck lunch. When it was time to go and before she clicked her ruby slippers together, Dorothy turned to her best friend the Scarecrow to say goodbye to the one she would miss the most. For me that would be the very talented and fun loving employees of the Hurt/Battelle Memorial Library.
This is an extraordinary group of people who work very hard at having fun while supplying unique programs and activities for all age groups at the library. It has been my pleasure to know them and call them friends. I won’t be a stranger, because I still hold a library card.
To everyone, I am sure our paths will cross again and as I told a dear fellow employee, I won’t say goodbye. Instead I offer happy trails until we meet again.
Kevin Dye is a former Madison Press staff writer.