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  • Last modified 2667 days ago (July 28, 2011)

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Saying goodbye is bittersweet

Changing jobs can be like leaving family. After all, we spend more time with the people we work with than anyone else.

After nearly eight years of helping to produce the Marion County Record, Hillsboro Star-Journal, and Peabody Gazette-Bulletin every week, I am extremely grateful.

My success would not have been possible without a supportive staff and family.

I don’t know what I would have done if not for Melvin Honeyfield and Jean Stuchlik. Their vast knowledge and expertise has been a major part of this company’s success and mine. Melvin has the ability to take a dozen words and an idea and design an ad better than anyone in the business. Jean has the insight and a gentle approach that enables her to diffuse difficult situations. Her service has been invaluable.

Our news staff is the best.

Our veteran reporter, Rowena Plett, has decades of experience and when we get in a pinch and need some help, she’s always willing and ready to serve.

When we hired Adam Stewart nearly three years ago, I was new to my position as managing editor. Adam and I grew together in our positions. He has become a dependable and conscientious reporter, a stickler for details, and has developed relationships that have proven to be invaluable.

Ben Kleine came to us nearly two years ago, fresh out of college — wide-eyed and eager to get his feet wet. His position has grown from sports writer to news and features. He has a knack for telling people’s stories and has a nose for news.

All of our reporters strive every week to bring interesting and informative stories to our readers. Our goal has always been to provide as many unique stories as possible — information you are not going to find anywhere else. And I believe we’ve delivered.

And then there’s Susan Marshall and Janet Post who keep the Peabody Gazette-Bulletin going. Their dedication to the Peabody community has kept the paper alive.

Debbie Steele has become an invaluable member of our team as advertising sales representative. She goes out day after day, week after week to promote our papers. We appreciate her tireless efforts.

Christina Cooper began typesetting in her “free” time as a way to help. Little did she know that her skills would land her a full-time position and eventually the role of bookkeeper. She has stepped up and assumed many responsibilities in the short time she has been here. I’m proud to call her my daughter.

Copy editor Amanda Ayers appeared on our doorstep two years ago, looking for a part-time job. At the time, there wasn’t an opening but we eagerly made room for her. We are grateful she came our way.

Numerous sports, correspondence, and contributing writers have also been a part of the success of these three newspapers and we appreciate each and every one of them.

I wouldn’t be an employee of Hoch Publishing if it wasn’t for Bill Meyer and Donna Bernhardt. They were incredible mentors and supporters. I will always be grateful to them.

When I was hired, I started in the trenches — covering meetings, writing features, and doing whatever needed to be done. Donna was my boss but more than that she was my friend. The most incredible thing happened while under her tutelage — she became my stepdaughter. For most people that would be strange; for us it wasn’t. We had our jobs to do and we got them done.

I also owe a debt of gratitude to owners Joan Meyer and Eric Meyer for giving me this opportunity. They were good teachers and supporters, knowing the newspaper business inside and out. Joan’s historical knowledge of the community and the spelling of names are phenomenal. Eric is a go-getter and never tires, working circles around even our younger staff. His “real job” is a journalism professor at the University of Illinois. He knows the newspaper business from the family side and from the grass roots of teaching students — an incredible wealth of information.

And then there’s my better half, Don. He has eaten more than his share of meals alone, gone to bed before I made it home from putting the three newspapers to bed on Tuesday nights, endured countless hours of hearing me conduct interviews from home, and put up with me chasing ambulances and fire trucks. Thanks for your support today and always. I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

I am going to miss the thrill of pursuing news, the opportunity of hearing people’s stories, and the satisfaction of producing three quality newspapers every week. But most of all I’m going to miss the people — staff and customers. You all have made my job easier and enjoyable.

Saying “thank you” does not seem adequate.

Now, for my new “family,” I’m excited about “returning home,” in a sense, to the county. I was employed in the register of deeds office in the 1990s. I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the public and to be part of the county’s success.

Life is full of surprises and I’m ready for the next chapter.

— susan berg

Last modified July 28, 2011

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