It is with completely mixed emotions that I write this final column for The North Jefferson News. After 13 years of working in this wonderful city, surrounded by these “salt of the earth” people, I will be trading in my newspaper experience to start a new journey in life.

My heart is filled with sadness when I think of all of the things and people I will be leaving behind. From Miss Sarah bringing flowers for me and little crafts for my children, to Hazel Butts dropping by with a warm banana nut bread and a singing announcement, life will never be the same.

I’ve been abundantly blessed to serve in this community for all of these years and it’s not without several prayers and more than a couple of tears that I will walk out of this building Friday no longer employed by The North Jefferson News.

You see, inside of these walls I have experienced more life than any other place on earth.

It was on this exact telephone that I received the call that we had lost our first baby during pregnancy.

It was at this same desk that I met my husband for the first time.

It was on this couch that I crashed several times from sickness and exhaustion during pregnancy.

This is also the same couch I watched my former general manager almost die of a blood clot before I physically threw him in the car and rushed him to the hospital. He is a walking miracle today.

If these walls could talk ... well, I’m just thankful that they can’t.

I’ve grown as a person and as a professional at this newspaper. When I was hired, I was given the title of office manager, although there was no one under my position here. I was the low man on the totem pole and I will never forget my first day. I walked in scared, young and inexperienced. Some of the employees were much less than nice to me, and I was definitely the outsider. But as time passed and people flowed in and out the doors, I was blessed to make life-long friendships. Five years ago I was basically forced to become the general manager here because I had been here the longest, I knew the paper forwards and backwards, and I think no one else wanted the job. But even with that push to management, I never wanted to lose touch with our citizens and our customers. My heart is with you, the people of north Jefferson County.

I honestly don’t know where I end and where The North Jefferson News begins. There’s never one full day that goes by that someone doesn’t mention the newspaper to me in one way or another. There are constantly texts, calls and messages about news around town that have been my heartbeat for 13 years. I will truly miss this.

People around town have said for several years that they would have to pry my cold, dead body away from my desk to get me to leave. I didn’t wait until it was that extreme, but I truly love this job and I truly love the people it has allowed me to meet.

I remember meeting two mayors at my first chamber luncheon and rushing home to tell my parents that it was so amazing. And now I count the mayors as close, personal friends. It’s amazing what a difference a few years can make. I actually love the elected officials I have worked with. I love the policemen, the firemen, the department heads, the assistants ... everyone I have had the pleasure of dealing with through this position in our company.

Like any job, there were days I felt like I was just riding a gravy train and then days that I thought it would never be worth the stress it put in my life. But looking back, I only remember the happier times. There has been much more laughter than tears; more joy than heartache and more blessings than cursings.

My heart is heavy just thinking of it all. The part I will miss the most is probably this column. It has been my venting station, my therapy, my blog, my way to reach out to our communities ... it’s been my voice. When customers would come in and tell me that they appreciated my column, it was always hard to fight back tears because it really means something to me to think that something I may have written actually touched someone’s life.

I can’t fully express my gratitude for this job in just one column, but I can tell you that God has truly blessed me by allowing me to spend these years working for The North Jefferson News.

This Monday I will embark on a new journey helping to serve the people of Jefferson County. Please pray for me as I branch out and do what I feel I’ve been called to do. And please, anyone who would like, feel free to email me at danielledcater@gmail.com any time. Our readers have been the biggest blessings of it all, and I am extremely thankful that God placed each of you in my life. Thank you for putting up with me for all of these years!

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