Back in 2013, I moved to Franklin fresh out of college and more than a little green. Somehow, in the fall of that year, the folks at the Franklin Favorite decided to take a chance on me. And since that time, I've been part of a community that I will never be able to forget.
Over the last three years, I have been lucky enough to walk into work each day not knowing entirely what to expect. From interviewing individuals who have traveled halfway across the world serving others, to speeding (please don't tell Police Chief Roger Solomon) to accidents or fires in hopes of capturing that breaking news photo, my role has changed day by day.
Throughout it all, I have worked with some very good people here at the Franklin Favorite -- people that work very hard each day to put out a product that they can be proud of and hopefully you can enjoy. Certainly any success that we've had as a newspaper during my time here can be attributed to them.
It can also be attributed to many of you -- our readers. Upon arriving several years ago, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. Franklin's population was somewhat smaller than where I originally hailed from, and I wasn't sure what there would be to report on. Immediately, I learned there was much. From the first Small Town Christmas festival, to observing record progress achieved by the Simpson County school system, to watching brand new factories locate within our boundaries, to taking in our inspiring community theater, to attending ribbon cuttings for promising new businesses, there has never been too few things to write about. This is a vibrant, spirited town.
I've seen that spirit beyond my everyday job. My "hobby" for the past three years has been coaching an outstanding group of local kids each spring and fall through track and cross country. Throughout the seasons, I got to take them on trips to places like Alabama and Missouri; even to cheer them on at state. And ultimately, the experience fueled me to begin a new adventure -- as a teacher in Louisville -- the city where my family lives. Throughout my time in Franklin, I have witnessed some very strong families, and I know this community realizes the importance of loved ones.
Of all the events I've covered, for me one captures this reality above all the rest.
It was in the summer of 2015 when Franklin-Simpson High School senior baseball player T.C. Stubblefield very sadly passed away. I had heard there was going to be a ceremony for him and his family at the ball field one night, and I arrived shortly before it was scheduled to begin, not knowing what to expect.
What I experienced there was beyond anything I could have imagined. Packed to the brim were the stands, filled with fellow classmates, teachers, parents and fans. On the field were his teammates, dressed in uniform. And as dusk set, candles were lit, illuminating the stadium with a gentle glow. Genuine, heartwarming speeches were offered to all of those gathered there together.
This truly is a caring community. People want to help each other. People hope to support each other. And ultimately, living here has changed me.
So thank you for showing me what a caring community is all about. Thank you for letting me enjoy and try to share your stories. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper. And thank you for making this a great place to live.
My favorite writer, the evangelist Thomas Merton, once wrote, "In the end, it is the reality of human relationships that changes everything."
My relationships with many of you have changed me. Indeed, this community will always be a part of me. Thank you.