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By Steve Steiner
Executive Editor 

Goodbye, Bartow, and Thank You

 

Last updated 10/7/2020 at 4:42pm

Steve Steiner

"Oh, it's a long, long while from May to December/But the days grow short when you reach September

And the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame/And I haven't got time for the waiting game

And the days dwindle down to a precious few/September..."*

This is going to be among the final columns and articles I write for BartowNews.net, as I am moving to Laramie, Wyoming, having accepted an offer to become the managing editor of the Laramie Boomerang, and a sister publication, the Rawlins Times. I leave Oct. 14 and start Oct. 19.

The decision for moving to the Upper West has its genesis last April 2019, and then reconfirmed December 2019. That's when my wife, My Wanda and I honeymooned twice in Avon, Colorado. We honeymooned there because My Wanda had never experienced real snow, and it was still spring snow season there. When we arrived there wasn't any snow on the ground except on the mountains, where the ski slopes are. That quickly changed the first day there. From that point it snowed the entire time we were there on both occasions.

She fell in love with snow, getting the chance to ride a ski gondola, make snow angels and a miniature snow family on the hood of our rental car. We even got to visit a dogsledding facility. However, some events had ended, so we returned in December. Among the activities we engaged in was snowshoe walking, attending a craft beer festival, and visiting Aspen. What we didn't get to do was snowtubing and going to a mountain amusement park in Glenwood Springs. Ironically, two snowstorms put the kibosh on those plans.

Needless to say, we fell in love with Colorado. Ever since, we often talked about moving there permanently. Our original intent was to make the move in about three years, and definitely not longer than five. That changed when I suffered a (mild) heart attack in late June. With that, we decided to move as soon as possible, predicated upon my being hired. Currently, I am retired, having parted with The Polk County Democrat in 2017, a year after the paper folded up shop in Bartow and moved to Winter Haven. Taking on the reins of BartowNews.net, has been a labor of love (and more on that later).

With that, I began sending my resume and other credentials to newspapers in Colorado. When I saw listings for papers in Cheyenne and Laramie, and since each city is just above the state line with Colorado, I contacted those papers also. Several weeks ago I entered into negotiations with the Laramie Boomerang. I signed an offer of employment Sept. 18.

While I am happy for the opportunity returning to my profession (for pay), it's not without emotional drawbacks. For one thing, My Wanda won't be joining me, not at first. She will remain in Bartow, at least for a year (unless matters radically change). In addition, I love living in Bartow. As I am fond of often saying, "Bartow is the hometown I never grew up in, but wish I had." Who could tell when I arrived here 10 years ago at the end of May 2010, that I would become so attached to this community. That had never happened in the nearly 22 years I had lived in Hickory, N.C. Bartow welcomed me with open arms. They embraced me with a love I had not experienced before. In return, through my reporting, as well as through personal endeavors, I hope I (have) returned the love.

Again, it's going to be difficult. My Wanda and I have been together only (approximately) two years, having started dating in March 2018. To be apart from her this early in our marriage hurts both of us. In fact, I miss her already as I write, and it's another few weeks before I begin the drive to Wyoming. But this opportunity will greatly enhance our desire and financial ability to eventually live in Colorado (and who knows, maybe we'll decide we love Wyoming equally as much).

It's been a joy covering Bartow as your journalist, which is why after a two year absence, I gladly agreed to return to the profession upon the request of Chevon Baccus and Drew Truitt. Chevon recognized the need existed to fill the absence of the Lake Wales News, and began Lake Wales News.net. She believed that Bartow needed something likewise, and she's correct. She reached out to me and I readily agreed. We didn't launch as early as we would have liked, but we eventually had "liftoff." All of us knew that there would be no financial compensation, not at the beginning. But the money was besides the point. What mattered most was filling the gap the loss of the Polk County Democrats had created.

While I had planned on being more actively engaged, health concerns momentarily derailed that ambition, and I have to admit, it's been a slow process getting back into the "swing of things" for me as a result of the heart attack. At the same time, though, it made both My Wanda and I realize that the time to act is now. We both feel the desire, perhaps the need, to "pull" up stakes," and fate has cooperated, presenting me with the job in Laramie. Some might say I am lucky having gotten the job offer. My reply is "luck quite often is the crossroad where preparation meets opportunity." Fate brought me to Bartow, and now it takes me (and soon to follow, My Wanda) to Laramie, Wyoming; and from there, it is hoped, to Colorado. However, out hearts will also always be with Bartow.

As for "September Song," I find it fitting. I arrived in Bartow at the end of May 2010, and the opening lyrics begin with the mention of the month of May. As the calendar turns another page, soon I will be on my way west. My time here is dwindling. September will be my last full month here in Bartow. The irony does not escape me as I leave you with the final lyrics:

"And these few precious days, I'll spend with you

These precious days, I'll spend with you."

(*"September Song," from the musical, "Knickerbocker Holiday." Originally sung by Walter Huston, father of movie director John Huston, and grandfather of actor Angelica Huston. However, my favorite version is the one by Jimmy Durante. "Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.")

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: We are very grateful for the time and energy Steve Steiner put into starting BartowNews.net. We now need more volunteer writers to keep this news site going. If you're interested, please email your contact information to [email protected]

Author Bio

Steve Steiner, Executive Editor

Steve came out of a two-year retirement to helm BartowNews.net. Following a career in journalism/advertising/public relations --- at one point being a partner in an advertising/PR agency --- he shifted professions and focused on food service and hospitality before returning to journalism. As a journalist, rose from reporter to sections editor to managing/executive editor with newspapers in North Carolina, Mississippi and Florida. He is enjoying restoring a quality news site for his adopted hometown. Send him your story ideas.

 

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