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Moving in the right direction

For years, I have been on the downtown development bandwagon. It's part of the reason I was so happy when The Mirror moved in to its building on Railroad Street a few years ago.

So, when the McDuffie Museum was unveiled a few weekends ago, I cannot tell you how proud I am of our community and its residents.

The building is a perfect example of what "could be" all over our community. Each of the empty storefronts you see "could be" something beautiful. All it takes is the right person or business and the right commitment.

In the museum's case, that commitment came from all sectors of the community. Take Two State Construction's tireless efforts, for example. Or Mary Anne Coussons' constant vigilance. Or Judy Shapiro's unyielding dedication that even extended to her family members.

Now, I have to be honest: I was one of little faith. Six months ago, I just knew that the Smithsonian exhibit would begin its local life either in the Thomson Depot or the Thomson-McDuffie County Library while workers scrambled to finish the museum. But my regular treks to Cornerstone helped changed my mind. I watched the old bank building (and the adjacent former pharmacy building) take on a new life, one new board and coat of paint at a time. I was thrilled to be wrong.

While there's still lots of work to be done (and money to be raised) at the museum, there's still lots to celebrate. But there's also work that needs to be done outside the museum. The crumbling and flaking façades of nearby buildings need to be cleaned up. The by-pass around downtown Thomson needs to take the dangerous big truck traffic elsewhere. And we need to keep working hard to recruit other businesses downtown.

Yes, McDuffie County, there's still a way to go, but we're certainly moving in the right direction.

Part of the reason I became a journalist nearly 20 years ago was to tell stories. I am a firm believer that everyone has a story that is worth telling, and those stories can spur myriad emotions. I've laughed, cried, gotten angry and become exhausted while interviewing people through the years.

At the same time, I also love reading great stories, which helps explain how I lost a few hours of my day Sunday.

It's the story of Matt, Liz and Madeline Logelin, which is tracked through Matt's website, The California family's story can be summed up by his simple tagline on the blog: "Life and death. All in a 27-hour period."

See, Liz died suddenly last April, just a day after giving birth to little Madeline, leaving Matt to help his daughter navigate the world as a single parent.

The beauty of their grief, struggles and triumphs is at times gut-wrenching, breath-taking and awe-inspiring. But through it all, Matt's thoughts - even the salty-language laced ones - remind us to be thankful for what we have, strive for what we want and never, ever forget what we've lost.

Web posted on Thursday, January 22, 2009

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