By Ronica Shannon
Senior News Writer
The fact that I’m writing this column to say goodbye is so surreal. It’s hard for me to even put down into words that Friday is my last day at the Richmond Register. After almost nine years, it still feels like yesterday when I cried the whole way back to work after a meeting at the Blue Grass Army Depot. The acronyms and large, unfamiliar words were terrifying.
I can remember feeling hopeless after a lengthy Berea City Council meeting. What would be my lead? Where do I even start?
In a community with three government bodies, and more than 500 tons of warfare agent (which were ALL my beats) I thought I was going to drown before I made it up for air.
Despite my nervous and desperate start, I somehow survived.
It was former Register editor Jim Todd who taught me to “work smarter, not harder.” That was and still is a must-have skill to survive at a daily newspaper with so many beats to cover.
Lorie Love Hailey, who was editor after Todd, taught me that not every agenda item of a three-hour-long meeting had to be included in the story. That’s when I created the motto I still live by today when it comes to stories which have the potential to be really long: “If I get tired writing it, readers will get tired reading it!”
My boss today, editor Bill Robinson, has been and still is more than a boss ― he’s a friend. However, this friend happens to be a walking historical encyclopedia and knows everyone in Madison County, which organizations they’re affiliated with and where their children went to school.
Bill is one of the most compassionate, understanding bosses I’ve ever had and I want to say “thanks” Bill.
Register Publisher Nick Lewis has stuck with me through some sticky situations and has never failed to provide me with the support and encouragement I needed to thrive as a reporter. I thank him for his leadership and for standing firm through many changes here at the newspaper.
Then there’s my newsroom family: news writers Crystal Wylie and Sarah Hogsed, photographer Kaitlin Keane and page designers Carrie Curry, Liz Denny and bless his heart, Roy Varney. He’ll know what that means! I’m not joking when I call these guys my family. We’ve all shared each other’s happy times, sad times, frustrations, accomplishments and failures. We stand behind one another when the media become a target for nasty words and scathing letters to the editor ― that’s just part of being in the business. I love you all dearly and will continue to do so.
There are people I dearly love spread all throughout the Register office, and they know who they are!
Having worked so closely with people from various sectors of the community, I must acknowledge my appreciation for all of those involved in Madison County, Richmond and Berea governments. You have all worked well with me, and I truly appreciate that. To members of law enforcement and fire protection services, including the Richmond and Berea police and fire departments, Madison County Sheriff’s Department and county fire department and the Kentucky State Police ― I thank you all for your cooperation and for helping me do my job. I also thank those with the Blue Grass Army Depot, Chemical Materials Agency, Madison County Emergency Management Agency and the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program. Thanks for being patient with me as I work to get the story straight and also for explaining all those darn acronyms!
As of Feb. 18, I will be employed at Eastern Kentucky University serving as the social marketing and communications specialist for Kentucky SEED (System to Enhance Early Development). The organization stems from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and provides resources to children with mental health needs and their families. I am really excited about this opportunity to expand upon my career, while doing what I feel God put me here to do ― help people.