On a sunny election day a few years ago, when I still lived down in the southeast part of the county, I stopped by a small municipal fire station to vote on my way to the office.
I walked up to the volunteer poll workers, handed over my voter registration card and waited for my ballot.
One worker read my card, turned to her friend seated next to her and said, “Jill Way. I know that name.”
The woman peered over the top of her glasses at her friend and responded with authority.
“Oh, yes. You know her. She works for the paper. What she writes is just … so … Polk County.”
The pair nodded in agreement and handed me my voter registration card and ballot, without ever bringing me into the conversation.
But, you know what, I didn’t care a lick.
I had to fight back happy tears as I filled in the circles by the names of my chosen candidates.
And as I turned in my ballot, said goodbye to my new favorite Polk County residents and headed out the door to my car, I couldn’t help but hold my head just a little higher.
“What she writes is just … so … Polk County.”
In my mind, I couldn’t have received a better compliment.
And to this day, I don’t know that I ever will.
However, as I close in on 7 years with the Bolivar Herald-Free Press, I’ve found it’s time to pass on the role of writer of all things Polk County to others.
My last day with the newspaper will be this Friday, May 13.
Then, I’m headed just across South Main Avenue to work with the City of Bolivar as its new Public Information and Media Specialist. I'll also be helping with the city’s emergency management.
I’m so excited I get to continue sharing important things happening in Bolivar with all of you.
But, I’d be lying if I said the decision to leave the newspaper came easily.
It came with a lot of tears, a lot of soul searching and a lot of sleepless nights.
But then again, so did the job.
Words cannot fully express how much joy — and sometimes, how much heartache — my time with the Bolivar Herald-Free Press has brought me.
It’s been a privilege and an honor to share the ins and outs of Polk County and to write about the communities, schools, people.
I worked at this role the only way I know how — with my full heart and mind.
Have I always gotten it right?
There are things I wish I’d done differently. I’m a human being, after all, and by no means perfect.
As Billy Joel says in his song “Vienna” — “Though you can see when you’re wrong, you know you can’t always see when you’re right.”
This is one time, no matter how hard it is to say goodbye, I know it’s right.
I’m a dreamer. But, as Billy says, I’ve never imagined all my dreams would come true.
Thank you for allowing me into your lives over the past few years.
It has truly meant the world to me.
And remember, Vienna waits for you.
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