My heart was broken the day I packed up my desk to leave The Bolivar Commercial for the last time. Moving was not in my plan and leaving my position as a staff writer in 2018 wasn’t either. When I applied for the job I had no idea what I was doing. I figured, “I can write. Why not try this?”
Little did I know that I would learn more from Denise Strub and Diane Makamson in five years than I ever did in a traditional school setting.
From my first interview ever with Judson Thigpen to many many board meetings with Mayor Nowell to life lessons with Chief Buster Bingham and Fire Inspector Greg Jackson, I learned about my community in a way that many aren’t blessed with.
I was able to ask questions, know secrets, learn things first, go behind the scenes, and have answers to every single question people posted on Facebook.
Not only that, but I was able to see how a small business can give back to its community. Never did I see The Bolivar Commerical not jump at the opportunity to help another person.
One Christmas, we got a letter from a child that wouldn’t be receiving presents–a few weeks later, Santa dropped off an entire Christmas at the paper for those children and we were able to celebrate with them.
When a reporter’s mother passed, the entirety of the BC staff took up two pews in the funeral home. That was the first funeral I ever attended but it allowed me to see another glimpse at the family I’d become a part of.
We celebrate holidays, birthdays, and new babies all with food and excitement.
James and Spencer helped me fix random things I should have known how to do on my own, taught me all about the weird machines in the back, and made me laugh constantly.
Sharon, Brittany, Caroline, and Coretta kept me in check in more ways than one all while ensuring that the happy birthday song was never missed for anyone in the building.
Sharon “mommed” me in times when I didn’t know I needed it. She told me hard truths. She loved me even though she’d never admit it.
That family was always in my corner. When my own family had hit rock bottom and I thought we were completely alone, I remember driving straight to the newspaper. I didn’t go home, I didn’t go pick up Nana from daycare, I drove to the paper. I was met at the door, where I cried and was told everything would be okay. Then, of course, I was told to stop crying because Diane only lets you have a pity party for so long.
I made one of my very best friends through a fishbowl window, where we talked about our community, our hopes, our dreams, our fears, and our love of cheesy TV shows. We prayed together, we did devotionals together, and I taught her to love planners with me. We drank coffee, always figured out “what’s for lunch” and had each other’s backs.
The Bolivar Commercial is so much more than a newspaper. These people have always been there. When Bolivar County became an iceberg, the paper was published. When the city flooded, the paper was published. Anytime anyone was asleep, rest assured, Diane Makamson was not. She was awake, had already run through her emails, and why weren’t you in the newsroom yet, don’t you know deadline is at 10?
For 100 years, The Bolivar Commerical informed, supported, and even took beatings from readers who didn’t like to read difficult truths. Yet, it still printed. It still pressed on.
I have no doubt, every single person that made up that paper will continue to do the same. I hope, with its final printing, some will realize the legacy that was left behind and appreciate all of the blood, sweat, tears, and most importantly love, that was put into The Bolivar Commercial.
I love you all. Thank you for loving me.
Courtney Warren is a former reporter with The Bolivar Commercial. She may bee contacted at email@example.com.