Corner Column

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Forgive us our omissions and commissions.

The late Bill Glassford wrote those words – just before selling us his weekly newspaper – after the editor who had been operating the paper for 15 years suddenly left. Glassford was forced to resume its operation, well past his 70th birthday.

I have remembered his words for almost a quarter-century, and they have rung true especially these past few weeks.

Rarely is a transition of the sort involved with a purchase of a complex business simple or without hiccups.

You put out one fire, and two more pop up – on a good day.

The good news is that the light at the end of the tunnel is not likely Amtrak or a Union Pacific freight.

Still, it has been frustrating to fight fires instead of making the rounds and getting acquainted.

But it will be well worth it. For the first time in I’m not quite sure how long, the Wood County Monitor will be locally owned and locally managed. And it will no longer be a part of a chain or group. Everything but the actual printing will occur right here. More on the benefits of that later.

I am well aware of the history of newspapers in East Texas. Some of them are owned and/or operated by folks with whom we have been friends for decades. The history of the various chains that have or do own community papers in the region is also well known to us.

I remember when two men with ties to the former Dallas Times Herald swept through these parts buying up family-owned newspapers to create Westward Communications. The face of newspapers in this part of the world forever changed.

I won’t bore you with the details of the various ownership groups, but roll forward to recent weeks when a series of circumstances led us to an opportunity to return to newspaper ownership.

Right about now you may be questioning our sanity, and we get that. It’s not the same business I started in all those decades ago when the ink was still fresh on my diploma, or for that matter during our two prior stints in ownership roles.

I’m not sure there are more challenges, but there are definitely different challenges.

But we would not be making such a move were we not confident in the strength of community newspapers, many of which are still thriving, and the strength of the communities that we are going to call our home base.

We have had the good fortune to visit this area regularly going back more than 25 years, from shows at the old Piney Woods Pickin’ Parlor to a visit to the wonderful nature preserve, golf at beautiful Lake Fork and shopping and eating in local establishments.

We have also gotten to know some of the folks over the years who have been involved with area newspapers and consider many to be friends.

Both our families have East Texas roots, and you will hear more about later as well.

For now we are working as hard and as quickly as we can to pull all the paper’s resources back to Wood County – a task which has not always gone as smoothly as we would have liked.

To those whose first impressions have been a result of things falling through the cracks, please understand that none of it has been intentional or for a lack of trying.

Things will get leveled out in a few weeks, a routine will be established, and we will forge ahead.

We have the good fortune of a staff who has a deep and abiding appreciation for this business and these communities, and they are helping to make the transition as smooth as possible.

I was particularly moved by the outpouring shown to editor Larry Tucker when he announced his cancer diagnosis and treatment.

That affection told us something we really already knew – the folks in this area are some of the best on the planet.

We can’t wait to be a part of that.

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