Life, sometimes, can be a roller coaster. And last week was full of peaks and valleys.
The slope downhill began last Tuesday inside a small mobile home on Cedar Rock Road. Two little boys were playing with a pistol, a shot rings out and a little boy was dead. A family, a school and a host of friends are left to mourn little Austin Robertson. By all accounts, his was a bright light snuffed out too soon. But he should serve as a lesson to everyone: guns are dangerous, no matter how careful you think you are. Take a minute this week to make sure yours are as safe as possible, especially if children are in your home.
There's also a lesson to be found in the death of McDuffie County Sheriff's Deputy Jerome Jackson. It's simple: Take advantage of the time you have here because you never know when it is going to be gone. Admittedly, Deputy Jackson was a passing acquaintance - someone I knew because of the business I'm in. But as the details emerged last Friday afternoon, my mother - a local 911 dispatcher who had Deputy Jackson on her shift for years - sat in my office and cried at the news. Later, when she talked to his former partner - who left the department earlier this year - he cried too. As did many of the folks who filled the parking lot at McDuffie Regional Medical Center. Jerome Jackson was a man who was loved and respected. That's about all any of us can ask out of our time here.
Then the climb back up to the peak on life's roller coaster kicked in.
Saturday marked the culmination of the Georgia Press Association's 2007 Better Newspaper Contest. Newspaper folks from across the state gathered in Savannah for the group's annual awards ceremony. This was the first year that The Mirror has been eligible for the awards, and I'm so happy with the results.
The Mirror won 11 awards between the advertising and news competitions. We picked up four first place plaques, including an award naming Gene Walker the best sports columnist in Georgia for newspapers similarly sized to The Mirror.
Other awards include:
First place - Newspaper Promotion Out of Print; 41st Annual Belle Meade Hunt Opening Meet advertising; Lifestyles Coverage
Second place - The WG Sutlive Trophy for Community Service for our Relay for Life efforts; Sports Writing By Kristopher Wells; Beach Blast full color advertisement; In-newspaper promotion; Candlelight Shopping Holiday Open House advertising page; Amanda's Dancers spot color advertisement
Third Place - The JC Williams Trophy for Editorial Pages
I see these awards as a validation of the newspaper McDuffie County has helped us create. It'll always be an evolving work.
But now when I say it's one of the best in the state, I've got the hardware to back it up.
And that's something each of you had a hand in.