The four metal frames have held our history well.
In one is the metal printing plate from the front page of the July 3, 2003, edition of The McDuffie Mirror. Hannah Kirkland, then four, peers over a pew at White Oak Campground. The deaths of long-time city councilman Roy Roberts and local broadcaster Gene Harden made front-page news.
Volume 1, Number 1.
The plate hangs alongside three others from the same edition: the sports page, the editorial page and an inside page with a picture of the original staff.
Five years ago, the first edition of The Mirror arrived in McDuffie County. And - most days - it feels just like yesterday.
The newspaper has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams, and I am so proud of the way Thomson, Dearing, McDuffie County and surrounding areas have opened their arms both to the publication and its staff. It is the people of these communities - and their suggestions, kind words and criticisms - that have shaped and molded The Mirror into the newspaper it is today.
Thanks to each of you, and I hope we have made you proud of your community's newspaper.
Lee Anne Cowart was on the cover of our second edition five years ago as the central figure of a story about the planned revitalization and historic district creation for downtown Thomson.
Last month, Mrs. Cowart took the reigns as the McDuffie County Small Business of the Year for 2008. She was shocked to receive the award, but spoke eloquently during her acceptance speech about blooming wherever you are planted. For her, the perfect soil was in Thomson.
As I said in my presentation that night, Lee Anne puts her heart into her business, her customers, her family and her community. And that helps everyone around her bloom too.
I left Thomson last Wednesday for the mountains of North Georgia and returned to a city I hardly recognize. After spending a few days bouncing around several mountain towns - including Toccoa, Ga., and Highlands, N.C. - that had taken full advantage of their downtown space, I could see where local leaders would like to take Thomson.
For example, the main strip of Toccoa is lined with old buildings - some dilapidated and empty, some occupied in the midst of renovation and some bustling with beautiful activity. There were art shops, restaurants and antique stores. And there were people all around.
It was inspiring and the first place I thought of as I passed through Downtown Thomson Sunday night. In just a matter of days, Main Street was transformed by a combination of painted bricks, new shrubs and the near-completion of the streetscape improvement project.
Sure, it's all a stepping stone toward a bigger plan for making our community better.
But everything - even one of Georgia's best community newspapers - has to start somewhere.