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Goodbyes are hard, even when they are for the best

Saying goodbye has always been a difficult thing for me to do.

Being perfectly honest, I don't like it - not even a little bit.

Unfortunately, this week it hits me not only in the gut, but in the heart, too!

The guy who has been my boss is about to become my former boss. His name is Jason B. Smith, one of the greatest guys you'd ever want to meet. He's been a super boss and a great friend!

He's leaving our newspaper as its publisher for a brand new position as vice president of communications for the Joseph M. Still Burn Centers, Inc., in Augusta. Naturally, I'd be remiss if I didn't say publicly that I'm going to miss him. And a lot of other people are, too - not just on our staff but in our community, too.

Jason has been a tremendous asset at The McDuffie Mirror. He has brought many innovative ideas to the newspaper, making it one of the best weekly newspapers in Georgia.

Jason has been the driving force behind The Mirror providing the best news coverage and human interest pieces possible in both McDuffie and Warren counties. He also has taken special interests to enlighten citizens of McDuffie County about certain political issues by holding public forums. Those forums have included another one of his friends, WTHO News Director Donna Branch.

His commitment and dedication over the years to this newspaper will not be forgotten. I shall always strive to remember many of the things he's taught me. One of the biggest of those things is to take the high road, no matter the circumstances. We become better people for it.

Jason is a first-class guy with a deep emotional tie to his friends. I'm glad to be among them.

He's truly a lot of fun to be around and to bounce ideas off - especially complex news stories. Not only has he been a great publisher, but he's been a fantastic editor, writer and the man behind many exceptional stories that bore someone else's byline.

Not only is he going to be missed at The Mirror, but also at one of our sister newspapers, The Augusta Chronicle. There, he has written many fine news stories through the years - some of them while serving as publisher of The Mirror.

Jason is a well-thought-of guy. He knows how to have fun, tell a joke and laugh about it.

He also knows how to be serious when the job calls for it, as it often does.

Jason makes exceptionally good decisions. A person with the job he has held must make sound decisions. I have personally appreciated his bouncing ideas off me and my trusted colleague, Lynn Davidson. He has made us feel like our opinions mattered, too. It's meant a lot to both Lynn and me.

I'll miss those times, as well as the times we've spent covering investigative stories together or certain crime stories, such as murders and court coverage of trials. I'll also miss the many trips to Columbia, S.C., to cover Jasper and Casper Brinkley playing college football at the University of South Carolina.

I wouldn't be honest if I didn't admit that I'm sad about Jason's departure. But I wish him and Miriam (his wife) all of the happiness in the world!

I look forward to continuing to move this newspaper forward as a reporter and I sincerely welcome Jason's input at any time. Soon, he won't be publisher, but rather one of our many subscribers. Already, he's paid for a subscription. Imagine!

Web posted on Thursday, July 30, 2009

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