I wasn’t supposed to end up in Sedalia.
I applied for the job on a whim, because I interned here when I was in college. I had no intentions of ever moving to a small town or writing about city government. But here I am, two and a half years later, and you know what? Sedalia grew on me.
Oh sure, Sedville has its quirks and it’s easy to complain about what’s lacking (I’m looking at you, Target). But my time spent covering the city and its residents has been incredibly enjoyable.
Friday was my last day at the Democrat. I’m not going far — just up the road to the Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri — but I won’t be going to meetings, reporting on events or interviewing city officials any longer so I thought I’d use this space to say thank you to a few people.
First and foremost, Sedalia has some of the most dedicated and inspiring city staff I’ve ever seen. A city reporter is only as good as her sources and mine have been impeccable. I owe a special thanks to City Administrator Gary Edwards for always taking the time to explain issues to me, sometimes multiple times, in a way that I could explain them to the reader. I will never understand the intricacies of sales taxes and budgets but Edwards does and he routinely returned my many, many phone calls to explain, again, why the city’s fund balance is never far from his mind.
And while we’re on city department heads, Community Development Director John Simmons and the Citizens for a Clean Sedalia Committee deserve recognition. With all due respect to the other board meetings I routinely covered, Clean Sedalia will always be my favorite. They’ve taken on the sometimes impossible task of motivating this city to change, to tweak some of its rules to be more common sense and to hold property owners accountable. Being on a committee is a thankless job but those six members are continually striving to make Sedalia better. Plus, they have cookies at their meetings, who doesn’t love that?
Thank you to my boys in blue. Some of my favorite stories have involved reporting on the Sedalia Police Department. Whether having a quick chat with the dispatchers while picking up police reports, reporting on a major crime or going on a ride along, I have always enjoyed my time with the men and women who protect our city. They and the Sedalia Fire Department aren’t appreciated enough. Chiefs John DeGonia and Mike Ditzfeld, and SFD Deputy Chief Greg Harrell have trusted me to report fairly and accurately on their departments and have even let me have some fun along the way. Anytime you need someone for a ride along or go to up in the 100-foot ladder truck again, give me a call.
Last, but certainly not least, thank you to my newsroom crew. I’m not sure readers know how much time we spend here, thinking about the news and what stories are going to be covered. There have been many changes at the Democrat since I started — some of them frustrating, some for the good — but something that has never, and will never change, is the newsroom’s commitment to Sedalia.
People, especially those of us in the media, like to talk about the future of newspapers. Whether they’re relevant or will even be here in the next decade. I’ve been asked more times than I can count what I thought about the Democrat and the future of print journalism. I have no idea, and wouldn’t speculate, about print journalism. But I do have a good idea about the Democrat. As long as its doors are open, there will be reporters dedicated to this paper and this community, covering the meetings and ribbon cuttings and photo ops that make up every day life.
Thank you for letting me be part of the Democrat’s 145-year legacy in this town. It has been an honor.