I’ve had a good run. I’ve officially stepped off the hamster wheel and looking forward to slowing down and spending more time with the people in my life.

I want to thank our El Dorado readers for accepting me and supporting the paper through the past few years of change. Your community is a busy and productive place. There’s always something good going on! I’ve met some great people.

Almost 20 years ago, I was given an opportunity to work for the Augusta Daily Gazette. Carter Zerbe said “Let her write!” and I’ve been able to do everything I ever dreamed of doing at a newspaper. I’ve been a reporter, a photographer, a feature writer, an obituary writer, a columnist, an editor, and for the past two years, the managing editor. I’ve never been bored and still get a thrill seeing my byline.

The Gazette staff was protective, supportive and knowledgeable. I was fortunate to work with a couple of publishers who helped me accomplish more than I could have imagined.

I continue to be immensely proud that the Augusta Daily Gazette, in its last year and under the leadership of Kent Bush, won so many Kansas Press Association Excellence Awards that we brought home the Sweepstakes award, too.

A newsroom is not your typical office. Newsrooms collect a wide variety of people who are dedicated, sometimes question authority and never believe anything without double checking. Journalists have a sense of humor and a unique way of looking at the world. I’m thankful that Len Hudson encouraged me to express humor and views in our “He Said, She Said” columns.

The Augusta newsroom was a place of sanctuary for free thought and writing. We were the protectors of our community’s extensive and rich journalism legacy, a responsibility we took seriously. We enjoyed the office and worked hard producing each issue. It was fun to discuss current events, politics, and at the end of a many work days, what everyone was preparing for supper.

I have been blessed to work with many smart, talented, dedicated and good people who made working for a newspaper more joy than job. Some became mentors and friends who helped me be a better journalist and person.

A bonus for me was getting to know our readers and fellow citizens. I was blessed by their kindness and patience. They told me their stories so I could tell you. They welcomed me into their places of work and worship, their homes and lives. They trusted me with their most joyful or painful moments, deepest thoughts and beliefs. They taught me that hope matters and inspired and nurtured my faith in the world.

I witnessed difficult times in our community; floods, fires, accidents, and losses. I witnessed the strength and determination of our city leaders, city staff, along with businesses, organizations, and individuals. We’re tough.

There were exciting times, too; reporting on police chases, a presidential candidate appearance, watching old school buildings come down and new ones erected, hitch hiking to the office when my old truck was frozen shut, witnessing the generosity and kindness of people, watching young children mature into amazing adults, witnessing ribbon cuttings on new parks and features in the city, learning out about the Atomic Veterans and sharing their story of heroism, and writing the Tales of Butler County.

I can’t forget some of the lighter times; losing new shoes in a muddy ditch while covering a fire, stepping away from my desk and returning to find the ceiling had collapsed onto my work area, the massive fish harvest when the lake was drained (who could forget that fun?), the roundabout controversy, reporting on a ghost hunt at the old hospital, learning to dowse (I’m actually good at it), taking a call from Senator Bob Dole and thinking at first it was a prank, and I’ll never forget the time I was touring a downtown building and flew down the stairs and out into the middle of State Street in a flash because a bat had grazed my shoulder. My speed surprised everyone!

Many good times and many stories.

At this time, I’m unsure of immediate future plans, but I will continue to research and write. I still have Tales of Butler County that I want to share.

Please accept my intense gratitude for your support and encouragement over the years. I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to be a journalist in Augusta and Butler County. There is no better place.