No one likes long good-byes, and I'll try not to wear you out with this one.
Coming straight to the point, this is my last column as managing editor of The Northern Virginia Daily.
Today marks a change of ownership for the newspaper, the first in its 80-year history. Understandably, it also will be a changing of the guard for this proud institution, which is widely regarded as Virginia's best small daily newspaper.
For some of us, it means moving on to new challenges.
Thoughts about the future have been much on our minds in recent days, but I've also found myself reflecting on my time with the Daily. Simply said, my 12 years here have been the most rewarding in my long career in the newspaper business.
There have been many stops along the way since I got my first newspaper job at the tender age of 16, doing the heavy lifting in the mailroom of my hometown weekly. At first, it was just a way to make a buck after school. Well, come to think of it, it was a way to make $1.60 an hour after school.
But before long, I had a chance to do some high school sports coverage, and I was hooked. Since then, I've never been able to shake the itch to work with paper, ink and words.
After studying journalism at James Madison, my road led through newsrooms in Luray; Natchez, Miss.; Martinsburg, W.Va.; and Hagerstown, Md., before being offered an opportunity here in Strasburg.
I will always be grateful to our editor, John Horan, and our retiring owners, Pat and Dee Keister, for welcoming me into the Daily family. I don't use the term lightly: Working here has always felt like being part of a huge extended family. The employees care about each other as much as the work they do, and the result has been a newspaper we all take pride in. In fact, it's a newspaper the entire community can be proud of.
For an "old school" journalist, as I'm often described, I'm also grateful for the simple, straightforward expectations my bosses have always had for our newsroom -- that we produce the best news report possible every day given our available resources, that we keep our reporting honest and fair, and that we strive to inform, enlighten and entertain our readers.
We've had no whipping boys and no sacred cows. It's the way journalism is supposed to work, and I believe the proof shows up each morning on your doorstep and newsstand.
The team of talented, dedicated professionals I've had the honor to work with made that possible.
Finally, of all the many joys I will look back on, sharing Saturday mornings with you through "Top of the Morning" may be the one I cherish most. When I started the column several years ago, I said it would cover the waterfront: The world at large, the times we live in, our life here in the valley. At the time, I promised I'd try to bring something
worthwhile to the table every week. I've given it my best shot.
And with that, I retire the column. The valley is still my home, though, and I have no doubt we'll still run into each other from time to time, maybe even on Saturday mornings.