Waurika News Democrat

Opinion

July 8, 2011

Ole Jeff left some big Converse to fill

WAURIKA — Good morning! I know some of you will ask, “who’s this young whippersnapper?”

“Did that ole’ Jeff What’s-His-Name finally cut his hair, shave his ’stache and find a time machine? Surely not!”

Gentle readers, I assure you ole Jeff Kaley did none of those things — he simply went up the road a ways to serve as managing editor of The Duncan Banner. What he left here, though, is an opportunity. An opportunity for you and yours truly.

Opportunities like this don’t come often.

To have the reins of a publication passed to you is a humbling experience. Considering the 108 year history of the Waurika News-Democrat, the task is both thrilling and daunting for this young journalist.

For more than a century, this publication has been recording the human history of Jefferson County. The good, the bad and the downright ugly have been blazoned across this paper. That fact doesn’t escape me — it inspires me.

Based on numerous conversations with ole Jeff, I understand this publication’s importance and its role in this community. My intention, as editor, isn’t to make wholesale changes. Tweaks? Sure. Broad reaching changes? Not so fast!

Headlong is how I intend to plunge into Waurika and Jefferson County. Through reading the last year’s worth of publications, I feel I already know most of you.

Thank you for the work you do. Thank you for your patience in this transition. I don’t expect a long or difficult one. To believe the road will be without bumps, however, would be naive. If you will bare with me, I know we can march on and carry on this publication’s tradition of excellence.

You deserve it.

For those I have already met, it’s been a pleasure. Truly.

For those I haven’t met, an introduction, I believe, is an appropriate genesis for my relationship with you — a relationship I am confident will blossom.

Southern Oklahoma has been my home since grade school. Since my family’s arrival on the Great Plains, I have been amazed by the rich history it provides.

On a small farm north of Comanche, I learned about life. Lessons of hard work and determination were taught. Fortunately, I listened. It was during that time a strong sense of family was instilled in me.

Faith came later in life, courtesy of my wife, Lauren. Lauren truly inspires me. It’s obvious I married up. I’m not afraid to say it. Lauren inspires me to be better in every facet of my life. Faith only seemed to reinforce the values that were instilled in me as a child.

As a student, I found myself enamored by history with a knack for the written word. Under the tutelage of Empire High School’s finest educators, I was molded. Their names are too numerous to mention.

College was a unique experience. Enlightenment, for me, was a daily occurrence at Cameron University. As other students clamored and complained, I listened intently to my instructors — Ed Apple and Phil Leonard to name a few.

Their insight and knowledge of southwest Oklahoma was worth its weight in gold.

Not long after my college experience, I accepted a position at Halliburton in its manufacturing plant.

Nearly two years later, however, I felt the pain of being deemed expendable. Like millions of others nationwide, I found myself feeling the sting of The Great Recession.

Before long, I began my writing career as a freelance sports writer for The Banner. Shortly after I began I was offered a full-time position on the lifestyles desk.

The rest, as is often said, is history.

But that’s enough about me. I want to know your stories. I want to hear your tales. I honestly and whole heatedly want to serve you. I believe Waurika and Jefferson County’s best days are in the future. Together, I think we can make great strides in that direction.

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