A state championship, a series of stories, and a telephone call remind me of everything I’ve come to love about this business.
It is the exhilaration of covering breaking news. The birth of a three-day series after weeks of legwork. And then, receiving that one special telephone call that serves as a reminder why newspapers make a difference.
If you work in a business of moving parts — one where planning is a must, but flexibility is even more important — you know what I’m talking about.
Last weekend was to have been an easy one for us.
For weeks we knew we had a big package in our back pockets. Reporters at The Lima News, along with 34 other daily newspapers in Civitas Media, had been interviewing people to measure the effects of heroin addiction on their communities. The many meetings and long hours of work was to pay off with a March 23, 24 and 25 publication. Those dates were circled on the calendar.
Then along came Lima Central Catholic’s basketball team.
They entered the week with a chance to win a state basketball title — which has only been done once before in the Lima metropolitan area.
That put a big “what if” on our plans for Page 1 Sunday. It became an even bigger “what if” late Friday afternoon when LCC moved into the state finals by easily beating Cincinnati Roger Bacon, 63-44, in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.
Saturday morning e-mails and phone calls were going back-and-forth as we added new potential changes to Page 1 as well as our Sports section. We were mixing “Plan A” with “Plan B” and coating it with “Plan Fly By the Seat of Your Pants.”
All of it was complicated by the fact that the design of our newspaper pages is now being done south of Dayton. However, we were aided by the knowledge that there are some very talented people working Saturday evening in both Lima and Miamisburg.
Two minutes after midnight, everything came to fruition. My only regret is I was not at 3515 Elida Road to see the paper roll off the press. There’s nothing like that for a newspaper person following such a big day.
A telephone call made up for that Sunday when I slipped in the office for one of those “only an hour or two” stays that I infamously mumble to my wife.
That telephone call came from a woman who sounded like she was in tears. She thanked us for the series of stories on heroin addiction. She knew of people who had died from overdosing on the drug and feared her son was an addict. She was appreciative of the help-line telephone number published, and in her words, “happy we noted this can happen to anyone.”
It has been nearly 40 years since I began working in this business as a part-time sports guy taking ball scores over the telephone. It was exciting then — and despite all the changes in the media — still yanks my chain today.
For me, there’s nothing like working for a newspaper.
ROSES AND THORN: People fighting for books, and state championship players dribbling basketballs were found walking through the rose garden this week.
Rose: About 270 people — or roughly one-third of the population of New Knoxville — turned out for a meeting to discuss the future of the village’s library. New Knoxville Telephone Co., which owns the building currently housing the library, says it needs the space for future business operations.
Rose: To Ashley Mooney, Cyndie Moorman and Lora Narket. The intervention specialists helped Spencerville schools put together a new classroom for students in kindergarten through fourth grade with multiple disabilities. This summer, Mooney also will be coaching a co-ed team for people with disabilities.
Rose: To United Auto Workers Local 1219 at The Lima Ford Engine Plant. They delivered child identification bracelets to every kindergartner through fourth-grader at Lima schools as part of the National Child ID program.
Rose: To Peggy Baker, a colon cancer survivor who convinced people to “sell their soles” at “Sneaker Meet” on Sunday. The events saw people purchasing, trading and selling shoes at Westgate Lanes. The $10 entry went to Warrior Mode Fighting Cancer.
Rose: To Kelly Ann Schepp, a graduate of Bath High School. She is engaged to be married to Michael Sean Person, an offensive lineman for the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League. Kelly is the daughter of Mike and Mary Lou Schepp.
Rose: To Alexis Haycock, of Shawnee High School, who was named Youth of the Year by the Lima Exchange Club.
Rose: To the once again message sent by Northwest Ohio basketball — it rules! — as the Lima Central Catholic Thunderbirds and the Crestview Knights teams were crowned state champions in Division III and Division IV. Let’s also not forget all those people who worked behind the scenes to make sure their school and community celebrations were special.
Rose: For my wife, Mary Beth, who wondered if I was ever coming home last week.
Thorn: What happened to those 50-degree temperatures that followed the first day of spring. They are expected to be in the 30s through Wednesday with an inch of snow covering the ground on Tuesday.
PARTING SHOT: “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” – Muhammad Ali
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