Time is Brewton was treasured
Two-hundred-and-nine weeks. That's a week longer than many presidents and governors serve in their elected offices, and it's the number of times I've visited with you on this page.
During that time, this community has undergone many changes, most of them for the better. We lost one major retailer, but have gained over a dozen new ones since then, rebuilding our tax base.
Brewton was selected to participate in the Communities of Excellence program, a partnership between the private sector and government that is designed to increase the number of jobs in participating towns. T.R. Miller High School has won state championships in football, girls' basketball and track.
At the same time, we've seen the unemployment rate creep upwards steadily over the years. Our schools are facing a funding crisis that promises to get worse before it gets better. Brewton still has too much traffic in downtown, and although work is happening behind the scenes to fix that, it doesn't appear that situation will be corrected in the near future.
In many ways, that mix of positives and negatives makes Brewton and East Brewton very similar to other communities our size across the nation.
Over the past four years, though, I've had the opportunity to meet people and experience things that most of the public doesn't have the opportunity to. That kind of exposure can give a person insight into the true character of a community, an insight I've tried to share with the newspaper's readers.
Brewton has a core of dedicated individuals who volunteer their time to work on worthy causes. Those groups provide services to the less fortunate, bring theater to our community for the schools and public to enjoy, work to make the community more visually attractive while still others volunteer as coaches for our numerous youth sports programs. These efforts all take financial backing, and Brewton is blessed with very community-minded trusts, corporations and individuals that donate to these groups. While other communities have struggled to keep such efforts going, Brewton has actually thrived during recent years.
The last four years and a week have seen many changes in the community, and in the coming days, there will be another. This one will take place at the newspaper.
Amy, Georgiana and I will be leaving shortly to assume a newspaper position in Texas. The decision to accept the job was perhaps the most difficult one I've made during my newspaper career. I am leaving the company I've worked with since graduating from college, and leaving a community my family and I have grown very fond of. There are the many good friends that we enjoy spending time with. Brewton is a city with many assets, like the YMCA, Country Club and beautiful neighborhoods. Those will all be missed.
But the opportunity to locate closer to our families was a strong lure. In Brownwood, we'll be able to renew friendships we left four years ago. Georgiana will be closer to her grandparents, and they will now be able to enjoy watching her grow up as much as Amy and I do. It was a hard decision to make, but once made, feels like the correct one. A successor to my position has not been named, but look for an announcement in the coming weeks.
Brewton and the surrounding area are facing some serious challenges in the coming months and years. First and foremost is the passage of the ad valorem tax in the countywide election in December. I don't think I'm putting it too strongly when I say that the tax must pass if our schools are going to prosper. This area must also recruit new business and industry in order to grow and prosper.
By-and-large, though, Brewton is built on a pretty solid foundation. It is a community led by creative people who bring energy and new ideas to problem solving. Those people will work to make sure Brewton continues to prosper in the future.
It has been a memorable four years and a week, and I thank each of you who helped out with advice and ideas along the way. I appreciate each of you who took the time from your busy life to read my thoughts each Sunday. Brewton, the community, has been very good to my family. I hope in some small way, we've returned that favor.