It’s hard to believe I arrived in the East County community seven years ago, almost to the day.
I don’t remember much about those first few weeks, except that I was excited and nervous, and wholly unnerved that I could not understand anyone with a heavy New York accent.
Being notoriously bad with directions, I pulled out a map and began reciting the exits off Interstate 75 from Parrish to South Sarasota, just to give my internal compass a kick-start.
But, those days are largely over, and here I am now assuming the helm at the East County Observer. It’s something I never imagined — an honor and privilege I do not take lightly.
Our longtime managing editor, Michael Eng, the most talented writer I know and a trusted colleague and friend, has left me with Goliath-sized shoes to fill. I will miss him and his wife, Jess, assistant managing editor/design, dearly, even if they will be only a phone call away.
Mike, or “chief,” as I call him, has been a tremendous force in my development as a reporter and editor, and I hope I make him proud.
In my new position, I recognize my role at the East County Observer largely remains the same. I will still be at your Town Hall meetings and community events, just as before.
Writing stories and covering events that you, our readers, cut out and paste into scrapbooks and talk about with your friends is what makes me love what I do each day. When you take us with you on vacation for our It’s Read Everywhere contest, my heart does a joyful pitter-patter — every time.
Truly, we are here to be the voice and paper of record for our East County community.
And, as Mike said in his farewell column last week, our success will continue to depend not only on your commitment to reading our publication, but also your feedback and scrutiny, your ideas and your willingness to share your stories with us.
So, as we venture forward together, please don’t be a stranger to me, or to our longtime associate editor, Jen Blanco, who continues to do a great job covering local sports and community events.
I’ve set up a Facebook account for my new role at The Observer, so please don’t hesitate to “friend” me, as well, so we can better keep up with what is going on in your lives. And don’t be afraid to call or email me with your ideas, either. I love to hear from you.
We may not be able to use every idea you send our way, but we try to include as many of them as we can. Every thought you send is important in helping guide us toward the coverage you want to see in the paper and making The Observer yours, as it is meant to be.
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Lakewood Ranch High School juniors Connor Jones and Kristen Mendez became school royalty March 31, after being named Mr. Mustang and Miss Lakewood Ranch.
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The Manatee Technical Institute Postsecondary Chapter of HOSA, formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America, dominated the Postsecondary-Collegiate Division at the HOSA State Leadership Conference April 3 through April 6, in Lake Buena Vista.
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Students at Haile Middle School kept the audience’s toes tapping April 8, during the school’s Night of Jazz event.