Quote of the week: “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” — Omar Khayyam
The chapter in my career as the St. Clair editor has been a memorable adventure and, on Friday, it will come to a close.
Please, don’t cry out loud. Save the tissues for something more important such as the extinction of Javan rhinoceros.
Over the past three years, I have gained valuable experience in the field of reporting, photography and writing. I could not have done my job without the help of numerous community members and leaders.
I would like to thank those who let me interview them, who answered my questions, who gave me their insights, who shared their comments with me and who let me take their photos.
For all of those who claimed that my camera would break if I took their photo, good news, it is only a myth.
The community certainly has made me feel welcomed, so it has been tough saying goodbye. I will miss the smiling faces who greet me everywhere I go in St. Clair.
Receiving compliments from readers was always the highlight of my day. Even when readers would express concerns loudly at me, it was refreshing to know that people cared.
One of my first big assignments as the St. Clair editor was covering the solar eclipse in August 2017. I wrote several articles on what city and EMS officials were expecting the weekend before and on the day in terms of how many people and how to prepare.
There were many events happening the weekend before, so St. Clair was a popping town. The eclipse celebration started with a parade and fireworks, followed by a bluegrass festival and ending with a car show the next day. Everything seemed to go smoothly.
An estimated 75,000 visitors from around the country and the world came to the St. Clair area to view the solar eclipse. That number was based on the number of cars counted by area officials. I took some awesome photos of people and of the solar eclipse itself.
I also covered the reopening of the St. Clair Historical Museum. Last year marked the five-year anniversary of the museum fire that burned down the previous 115-year-old building in 2014.
Many volunteers and museum board members have worked hard in setting up displays, holding events for the public and honoring donors.
They are constantly improving and expanding the museum. I am excited to read and hear about upcoming successes for the museum.
Speaking of improvements, I wrote several articles and captured numerous photos of the St. Clair Library expansion and renovation project. It was very cool watching the transformation. I hope patrons and community members enjoy the improved library for years to come.
Last February, I met Gov. Mike Parson when he visited the St. Clair area. He looked at the Happy Sac Creek bridge on Highway AD outside St. Clair during his statewide tour. My colleague snapped a photo of me walking behind Parson and it looks like I am part of his entourage.
In August of last year, first lady Teresa Parson visited St. Clair School District. She spoke to faculty, teachers and staff during a back-to-school workshop.
Parson commended the district for overcoming financial hardships over the past 10 years, upgrading facilities and implementing new kindergarten through eighth-grade math and English curriculums.
She also recognized Superintendent Dr. Kyle Kruse and the school board for providing training for the safety and protection of teachers, staff and students. After her address, she met with teachers and listened to their problems and concerns.
I also met Taylor Louderman, a Tony-nominated actress who starred as Regina George in the Broadway musical “Mean Girls.” For the past two summers, she has held an acting workshop for students at Sullivan High School, her alma mater.
Finally, how could I not mention the time I fell asleep during last year’s Chamber banquet? Magician DJ Edwards was the entertainment for that evening and to my embarrassment, he called me to the stage. I tried very hard to pretend I did not hear him, but everyone turned their heads toward the back of the room where I was taking photos.
Edwards performed a levitation act. I laid on two chairs, was blind folded and Edwards soothed me to sleep. I really was not sleeping. I was concentrating on supporting my neck in midair.
From the audience’s point of view, I was levitating. I would like to think it was because of my actual magical powers and not because the magician knows how to trick an audience.
I really was not embarrassed and the experience was a fun time.
I am looking forward to reading about and seeing photos of the several road repairs set to take place later this year.
The city received approval of a $500,000 community development block grant that will help pay for spot repairs and the repaving of Orchard Drive, Hibbard Street, Ridge Avenue and the northwest side of Kitchell Avenue, between Commercial Avenue and Redbud Drive.
All four roads will be under one bid and will be repaired at the same time. Additionally, St. Clair Street, Duckworth Street and Briegleb Street, from Hibbard Street to North Street are scheduled to be paved this summer.
The city will pay for repairs and chipseals for Cottage Street, Young Street, Ella Street, Sherman Street, Nashville Street, Kenny Street, Maupin Street, Well Street, Grant Street, and the rest of Briegleb Street. Paul Parks Drive, Treva Lane and St. Clair Plaza Drive will also be paved.
For the April ballot, registered St. Clair voters will decided whether to pass a $12 million no-tax increase bond issue for the St. Clair School District. I have been reporting on this for the past three years.
The funds would pay for safety and security components at each district building; construct, furnish and equip a performing arts auditorium (multipurpose room); remove existing modular classrooms;
Build and repair driveways and parking lots; renovate and equip existing building spaces; repair roofs; upgrade heating, ventilation and air condition systems; rebuild the athletic track; and make other improvements, such as replacing the athletic complex grand stand.
It will be interesting to read about how the community will vote.