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Progress 2003 adventure from start

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP - Managing Editor
Last week, the staff here at The Brewton Standard completed our most ambitious project in the past year - Progress 2003. Everyone here worked hard over the past three months to make this section a success.
Having worked on several progress editions over the past few years, I have to say that this year's is among my favorites. We tried to take a different perspective into it this year in an attempt to come up with some fresh story ideas. Progress can seem overwhelming at times from both an editorial and advertising standpoint. But, everyone kept their eye on the ultimate goal of getting out a top-notch product on deadline.
Plans for Progress 2003 began in October. From the first meeting we began putting together section and story ideas. We wanted to include fun stories in this year's section as well as stories that spotlighted the people and places of our area. I honestly feel that we were able to achieve that goal.
The "How do they do that?" section was meant to inspire all of us to try to new things and to be active. The "Health and Fitness" was a showcase of how Brewton and East Brewton have some of the most accessible health programs around. "Brewton Industry" spotlighted only a handful of local employers. One of my regrets for this year's edition is not including more industry and businesses in the section and hopefully we can find a way to get more involved next year. "Friends and Neighbors" was an attempt to focus on those people and areas that surround Brewton and East Brewton. We wanted to include these places in Progress by telling about their history and future. "That's a car!" was a real treat to work on. We knew that we had some car gurus in the area and thought it would make an interesting section. What we found out in the process is that there were a lot more of these car gurus than we imagined. Everybody we interviewed gave us a few more names to add to the list. It was unfortunate that we could not interview more of these people.
In our planning, we knew that we wanted to get students involved in Progress. I have been involved in editions where we use student artwork and writings and was told it was done here several years ago. We wanted a new idea and somehow the idea to have them take pictures came up. It was a great idea and the students who participated did an excellent job. For many, "Student Perspectives" will be the most entertaining section of the entire edition.
While Progress is our busiest time, it can also be a time of excitement and fun. Those of us who write for newspapers sometimes forget how fortunate we are that we are able to get out from behind our desks, meet new people and learn new things. Progress really has a way of bringing that to light as we interview and write about a lot of people.
This year's progress edition required a lot of cooperation from people outside of The Brewton Standard office. Seldom did someone turn us down for an interview or tell us that did not want to be part of a story. The people that allowed us to come into their homes and workplaces are the reasons that Progress 2003 worked. These people gave their time and energy and allowed us to share their stories with our readers. I would like to thank everyone who took part. I would personally like to thank Blake Riddle, who not only taught me about breaking horses, but found time after the interview to take me horseback riding - something I haven't done since I was a kid.
While Progress can be stressful and a lot of work, once it is through it is something we can all be proud of. The ultimate reward is the memories we made in meeting new people and learning new things.
robert.blankenship@brewtonstandard.com.