The long and winding road that led me to the door of Gonzales has an ending.
On Monday, April 6, I will become the new editor and publisher of the Kingsville Record in Kingsville, Texas. It is a great opportunity for me personally, and the good folks of that town are hoping that someone can save their struggling newspaper. They chose me to be that person. With prayers and a lot of hard work, I hope I can make that happen.
But leaving Gonzales is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I love it here, and I love the people here. There have been so many wonderful people I have met that it made it an excruciating decision to take another job.
When I arrived in Gonzales in 2017, the Inquirer was in dire straits. I had moved into a community where everyone was wondering “Who is this Yankee?” and “Why is he here?” I knew I had a difficult task in front of me and I knew I had to prove myself to each and every one of you. Texas has a reputation for judging people quickly and accurately, and I liked that. I just hoped y’all would give me a chance and then make up your mind whether or not I was the right person for this job.
During my tenure here, the Gonzales Inquirer has made a great turn around. We are now operating in the black and we don’t owe a dime to anyone. We have become a solid supporter of community events and purposes, and we have extended that to coverage and support of Shiner and Luling. We have transformed the content of the paper into everything local, and I believe we do it fairly and as honestly as is humanly possible. There is no fake news in this newspaper under my watch. We have tackled some hard issues (the EMS scandal) and we have told stories about people who live and work here. The stories I wrote on our local veterans is something I will be proud of all the days of my life. We have become an award-winning newspaper unlike anything in the history of this paper. We finished as an honorable mention as one of the best weeklies in the state of Texas in last year’s South Texas Press Association newspaper contest. We finished third in the state in the Texas Press Association newspaper contest, missing the top award by one second place award.
We have become an important member of the fabric of this community. We inaugurated the Come and Taste It Craft Beer and Wine Festival which gained state-wide notoriety and brought people into town from all over Texas. We have helped sponsor the Main Street Concert Series, the Come and Take It Celebration, the Rajun’ Cajun, the Watermelon Thump, the annual cookoff in Shiner, Winterfest and so many more things. It is what a newspaper should do, and we did it here.
I am going to really miss this town and this job. I am going to miss all the people and friends I have made here. I am going to miss the happy hours at Spanky’s with David Stewart, Mark Pravel, Tyler Carter and his girlfriend Lexi, Kyle and Christie Day, Gary Henderson, Conti, Robert P. Yaws, Danny and Beth, Ken Stewart, Bo Davis, Ricky Walker and his girlfriend Laura, Adam and Jessica, and the rest of the gang. I will miss the Berger clan, Tina, the Pruetts, Randy Poppelz, Don McShane and all those wonderful folks they clan with. Karen and Reid, Coltin, Phillip and Lee, Diane Hermann, Geno, Eduardo Estrada, PJ and Bev Wegener, Randy and Jacki Wilson, Steve and a host of others will be in my thoughts. The great people who I have dealt with in the business and political community like Joe and Landra Solansky, Egon Barthels, Dale Schellenberg, Shirley Breitschopf, all the good folks at Gonzales National Bank and Sage Capital Bank, Greg and Kris McClain, Jon Such, John Boothe, Marlene Metzler, Bessie Besard, Rosie Brown (love ya Rosie), Dustin and Brandon, Kevin at WB, everyone at Fehner, Dr. Vaz, Dick Kuenzler, David Tucy, Matt Atkinson, Daniel Lopez (I’m still better at trivia than you), Wayne Baker, Holly Danz, Judge Bird, Judge Davis, Allen Linebrink, Rob and Lisa Brown (no words—thanks), Rene de la Garza, Donald Rihn, Gary Schroeder, Daisy and Liz at the Chamber, Genora Young, Clint Hill, Barbara Friedrich, and everyone else I have not mentioned will be missed dearly.
I will miss my buddy Harlo Wilkerson and his brother John Henry. Phillip Moore and Bimbo will be in my thoughts. There are so many people I want to say goodbye to and thank for their friendship and support that is tough to write this column as the tears stream down my face.
Last—but not least—I want to say thank you to the wonderful people I have had the pleasure of working with during my tenure. Jose Torres—you are a good man and a great human being. All the best to you in your future endeavors. Sanya Simmons—you made coming to work a pleasure. I will miss your sense of humor and conversation. Sabrina Roberts—keep smiling girl. You have a great future ahead of you. I owe a big thank you to my former colleagues and friends Susie Bernd, Shelly Stamport, Erik McCowan and Garrett McGinley. A giant thank you to Brandi Chionsini and her husband Scott Coleman for hiring me and allowing me to do “my thing” down here in Gonzales.
It’s been a good ride and I hope I made a difference. I will always have a special place in my heart for the Come and Take It city that is home to the Immortal 32. Even though I will have another job, I will gladly walk into the Alamo next year with my Gonzales compadres and be proud to do it.
I may be taking another job 150 miles away, but I will still be here. My girlfriend Kasey lives here, so I will be back often. Kasey is never going to leave Gonzales, so I guess I never will either. Next week will be my final column and paper, and I hope you are proud of what you have read and seen here.
In the end, thank you Gonzales for all your support, kind words, tolerance and help. I’m 62 years old and have traveled the United States, but y’all are in the top one percent of the friendliest people I have ever known. Thank you so much for everything, and I’ll be seeing you again.