Moments ago, I was writing a Silver Knights' track preview about the upcoming season when it hit me that this would be the last article I'd ever write about this team.
I had no choice but to stop typing the story and let that reality sink in for a moment.
This is my last edition as editor/reporter for the Tyler Star News.
I'm leaving town and West Virginia.
Memories of my time in the Mountain State and Tyler County caused me to feel ... emotion ... which is something I'm unaccustomed to experiencing as a longtime journalist.
Though it will be a lot warmer where my family is moving, it is a hard decision to leave.
We found what we were looking for in Tyler County and West Virginia. This area is steeped in the values of family and has a sense of place that is becoming more and more rare.
Let me explain what you've got.
Recently, my three children attended the "Goonies" movie that was shown at the Sistersville Public Library. All the kids who saw the movie got some pizza, popcorn, a Baby Ruth and a bag of marbles from Marble King. Everyone had a good time. During one of the scary parts of the movie, my 6-year-old son Joseph left his brother and sister, who were sitting up front, to make his way back to me. He was frightened.
Councilman Alex King's sister Alaina spoke to the boy in her "mommy" voice to convince him that there was nothing to be afraid of because the monster was really a good guy. The boy's fears were soon squashed so much so that he was able to go back up front to watch the rest of the movie with his brother and sister.
Another time, my 10-year-old daughter Samantha and I had a daddy/daughter date to attend a TCHS band concert. Afterward while we were dining on ice cream at Dairy Queen in Sistersville, she raved about the Silver Knights' high quality of sound and expressed her desire to someday be a member of the choir and play an instrument in the award winning band led by Matt Jennings.
Samantha and I went on quite a few adventures. We had french fries at Lakeside and got to meet a loveable beagle as the bridge was being demolished when we did a Tyler Star News video report about Shiloh.
My 9-year-old son Robert and I attended more than a few city council meetings. Maybe that inspired this shy boy to run for student government at his elementary school.
When I first walked through TCHS' hallowed halls, I was amazed at how well-behaved and smart the students were, so I did many stories about students to understand why/how.
Our family attended many football and basketball games. My daughter, maybe, had a crush on TCHS superstar athlete Tyler Anderson because her voice always changed when talking about "Number 4." That's OK. Anderson is the kind of guy I would want her to date someday.
Brittany Weekley, who is now attending WVU, rescued my sons from their stupidity while she was a lifeguard last summer at Sistersville pool. Thanks.
Jahnvi Duncan thanks for the amazing interviews about life and running. The Corley family figured very prominently in my writing about track/cross country. You watch - a long distance dynasty is being born in Tyler County. Lyle Barker - thanks for reading. I loved writing the story about how your son Nathan finishing a cross country race without his shoe.
Also, I have to say the sports photos taken by Ron Heasley, Shari Smith, Maggie Fisher, Tamie Weekley are better than anything seen at most newspapers. Top notch. Many times, the Tyler Star News looked better than the daily competition. Thanks.
Oddly, I learned a lot about beauty pageant queens. Never saw that coming. Queens like Seminole Weekley and Kellsi Anderson offered great interviews through their were down-to-earth style.
Eli Henthorn has an impressive grasp of local history. If his mom, Bonnie doesn't already know, she'd freak out if she knew about the time we explored an abandoned church near an ancient cemetery. Thank God we didn't have to kill anyone or face any ghosts. Loved her passion for education and agree with her about Common Core.
Generally, I loathe educrats, but Superintendent Robin Daquilante is the best administrator I've ever met. One night around 9ish, I got a tip as I always do from folks that school would be canceled the next morning because of a snow storm. The cancellation wasn't posted officially on social media or at the state's handy school delay/cancellation website, so I sent her a message via Facebook. She quickly responded and confirmed that there was no school. Imagine that. Amazing. Always good for a quote too.
Speaking of social media, many people contacted me at all hours of the day and night via Facebook. Much like the farmer John Roberts, who rose early and went to bed late, most people were surprised when I responded to their questions or concerns quickly, often long before sunrise or late at night. Thanks for your news tips and patience with my lackluster skills in technology.
Speaking of John Roberts, his family's tale was the biggest story I've ever written - and I've had stuff ricochet around the state and region. That story appeared in many large newspapers between California and Georgia, so people all across the country were able to read a story about Tyler County.
Though I had a job to do as a reporter/editor, I always tried to treat public figures with kindness and respect. Sistersville City Recorder Chad Edwards is top notch, none better. Paden City Mayor Joel Davis is a great mayor. Mayors Bill Rice and Charles Delauder are dedicated public servants as is Paden City Recorder Tami Billiter. And I always liked being around Commissioner Eric Vincent and his hardworking mother Barbara, who made my life a lot easier when it came to festivals and pageants.
Councilman King is a good friend. I'm hoping that someday soon, he'll achieve his ambitions for Tyler County the same way A.I. Boreman did long ago.
Too many names to mention them all in law enforcement, the courts and the county building to thank. If I mention Tamie Weekley or Shannon Huffman, then I'm going to get blasted for leaving out Brian Weigle or Terry Hamilton and many, many others.
During my tour of duty, I was very aware that I worked for the newspaper that former editor/publisher Adam Kelly made famous. As editor, I took that responsibility seriously. I made strides to uphold Kelly's high journalistic standards. Stories from Tyler County appeared in many places including the Washington Times, Raleigh's News and Observer in my home state of North Carolina as well as the Wheeling and Parkersburg papers. Because I'm very concerned about the future of newspapers in the digital age, the TSN has made impressive strides in social media and strengthened its website presence.
Much thanks goes to Ed Parsons, resident sports writer, who offered me counsel and friendship. Also, thanks to Victoria Thomas who gave me some good advice on my first day - "There's no seven degrees of separation, there's one degree of separation in Tyler County." That advice served me well. As to my colleague Lauren Matthews at the Wetzel Chronicle, thanks for the time, the texts and more that made the job interesting. You are one of the good ones. Per Wetzel Chronicle sports writer Bruce Crawford, thanks for rushing into that cloud of toxic chlorine gas - the Axiall story that made national headlines. Yeah, he did that for an interview and some photos. Much respect. Much praise goes to publisher Brian Clutter and ad salesman Rick Loy and Zach Blair for keeping the lights on. Also thanks to Diann Wright to keeping the legals flowing, the doors open.
Good luck Chad Turner, who steps up to fill the best job in Tyler County.
One last note, I want to thank Charles Winslow for his council and friendship. Though Winslow is a yankee, he's one of the good ones whose ancestors most likely didn't burn and pillage the Tarheel state in the early 1860s during the War of Northern Aggression. And Winslow is a damn fine journalist.
It is difficult for my family to leave Tyler County behind knowing what you have here. Embrace your values and the community because it's what makes you strong. Thanks for the memories.
For me and my family Tyler County will always be in my heart.