When I first walked into the Boyertown office at Berks-Mont Newspapers in my cheap white suit in the summer of 2004, I was a ball of nerves. With only an internship at the Reading Eagle and some high school and college newspaper experience, I thought for sure there was no way I would get the job. Part-time staff writer was not exactly the gig I wanted because I wanted a full-time job, but I knew I had to get my foot in the door somehow.I interviewed with the then Managing Editor Jim Davidheiser, a local celebrity in his own right. His presence was so intimidating but I channeled my tough street strength developed from my younger days living in Reading and coupled it with my skills and willingness to go the extra mile.
I nailed the interview becoming the first minority to work for the fine family-owned company. I later found out what an absolute sweetheart Davidheiser was and can now laugh at how fearful I was when I first met him.
The then Publisher Jim Webb and the entire staff welcomed me with open arms and eventually I proved to them that I had the goods to become full-time. It led me to the seat I filled now for over a year as editor of The Community Connection and I don't regret one day of it.
Starting with the brand new feature-oriented paper with little to no staff, I had the rare opportunity to learn how to do a little bit of everything. As staff members came and went, I stuck it out for the love of writing and the love of my paper. I put so much pride into my work and never could have imagined leaving because it was hard for me to simply delegate to freelancers any assignments. A bit of a control freak some would say, I would say it was just the passion and care I took in my paper.
One of my colleagues said last week that I have become the face of the Connection and it would not be the same without me. I take this as one of the highest of compliments. With a heavy heart I now must say goodbye to the co-workers, friends I have grown to love and admire. I have learned so much from Harold Hoch's expert photography, the entire graphic design staff that patiently helped me learn to layout my paper, the editors that came before me and the editors I leave now.
It is bitter sweet because I will take the skills I honed at the mid-sized weekly to a brand new environment that will prove to be an exciting adventure. I proudly announce that I will be the new Director of Public Relations and Marketing for Cheyney University.
I will soon be moving out of the area where I grew up and call home. Graduating from Exeter Township High School, Kutztown University and the training I received from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association has been a phenomenal journey.
I leave with crazy memories from computers crashing, pages lost, to emotional memories that include when Berks-Mont was burglarized.
Being a part of the newspaper has paved the way to new honors like that of my board membership on the Healthy Woman Advisory Board and being the Team Captain for the Nosey Newsies for the inaugural Relay for Life of Boyertown.
It will be most difficult to say goodbye to Ric Webb who has become a wonderful mentor and friend. We enjoyed playful debates on politics and shared a love for animals. His calm demeanor helped me through many days when I wanted to pull my hair out and often blurted out expletives.
Through the many transitions that Berks-Mont has encountered, he has remained a steady constant that has helped me cope with doing so much more than any of us are ever paid to do.
With the volatile state of the media industry due to the failing economic times, I leave not because I don't love my job but because it is time to start a new chapter in my career that has only just begun.
Thanks to my loyal readers for the unending support, scrutiny, and news tips over the years. I have enjoyed ruffling your feathers with my hard-hitting controversial columns and telling the heart-felt stories the local dailies didn't have the time to tell.
I have highlighted the good news the community has shared and it has been a pleasure getting to know the many local groups and organizations through the many weekend events I have attended, many times with my partner in crime-my son Dominic. I know he will miss all the fun festivals, arts exhibits and free tickets to events we enjoyed. But this change in my career will open doors for him and I that I never thought possible so soon in my career.
I leave you in good hands as Nikki Murry will be taking over where I left off. She brings years of experience to the job and the energy necessary to find the stories that would normally not be told. Good luck and God bless.