Most people who know me know that I love what I do.
I could make more money at other jobs. I could work far fewer hours in the vast majority of jobs. But this job is different.
I don't mean in that "ink in your blood" way that many journalists describe. To me, that sounds like someone trying to get out but they just can't reach escape velocity.
That's not my experience.
I can cover a meeting until 9 p.m., go home and sit on the couch next to my wife and write the story and place it on the page by about 11 p.m., get up at 5 a.m. and hustle back into the office by 6:15 a.m.
When I get there, I'm ready for another fun day.
We work hard at the Gazette, but we also laugh hard.
The thing I enjoy the most is the relationship we have with the community. It isn't that I know everyone in the community, although having my photo accompany my columns three times a week does tend to help people get to know me.
What I am talking about is the fact that the Gazette has become a community bulletin board. We express our ideas, but we also make it as easy as we can for readers to express theirs.
If I had a nickel for every time someone wrote or called in to say I was wrong about something, my wife would get better birthday presents. It doesn't bother me.
You believing something doesn't make it true.
But what I have really enjoyed is how on this page of the Gazette readers have helped the city find its way through the water situation.
At Thursday's informational meeting, Josh Shaw, Assistant to the City Manager, mentioned several times that he had seen something in the newspaper and he was going to clarify or build on what was said.
Our readers don't always know the inner workings of the decisions made by the city or governing body. But since they were able to ask the questions or make comments, the city had a better idea of what information was going around town and what points needed to be clarified.
City Manager Bill Keefer even said recently that the idea of using a sales tax to fund a new water line to El Dorado initially came from the Viewpoints section.
It was fun to listen to Shaw explain why dredging the lake - a common Viewpoint issue – wouldn't be a benefit or Keefer explained how the contract to Mulvane truly works - another point many viewpointers have touched on.
Page 2 of 2 - Our readers were able to use an anonymous paragraph in a newspaper to communicate with their city leaders. I know the Viewpoints (and probably my columns) can be annoying at times. But they can also lead to positive discussions like the one the Mayor moderated Thursday night.
Augustans should be congratulated for being able to have reasonable discussions even when the forum is anonymous. In most cities, this type of forum doesn't work. Only horribly negative comments come in and you spend all morning trying to filter out the negative, hateful rants into something you can print.
You would not believe how infrequently we have to edit or block Viewpoints from running. Our readers don't abuse the privilege – or each other.
Augusta Gazette readers overall are smart, positive and engaged.
My staff and I know how lucky we are to live and work in this town.
Today marks my fifth anniversary with the Gazette. So many things have changed. When I look at the next five years, I doubt the changes will be any less drastic.
I hope I'm still here five years from now covering city council meetings, local sports and writing about things that keep Augusta talking.
There have been good times and bad times. But there has never been a day that I didn't look forward to flipping on the light switch in my office and starting the day.
Thank you for a great five years. Thank you for your input into what we do and how we do it. And Thank you for making Augusta a great place to live and work and write.
Kent Bush is the Augusta Gazette Publisher, a columnist and blogger for the GateHouse Media Network. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.