This week marks my final issue as editor of the Carroll County Independent.
After 15 years, to the week, of first reporting for, then editing this newspaper, I am moving on. As a reporter, you learn to remove yourself from the story. In the best reporting, I believe you don’t think about the reporter at all — just the people whose story is being told. My editors, particularly Frank Gospodarek and Jeanne Tempest, taught me to watch my opinions, check my assumptions and let the facts speak for themselves. I’ve tried to pass that on. So it is surprisingly awkward for me to step back into the “I” for the purposes of this final editorial. But it is the only voice that works.
I feel lucky to have had this job and to have worked with some wonderful people and met many more in towns from Bartlett to Wakefield over the years here.
People have often asked me, “Do you love your job?” I’ve had to answer honestly, “I do love some of it.” As with any job, there are parts that are more fun than others. I have loved being part of something that I believe makes a difference in the communities it serves, whether it be exposing injustice, informing decision making, or just letting people know who their neighbors are. What I have loved most is getting to know the people and communities of the county.
One of the privileges of this job has been getting to see the place where I grew up in a new light. Like many young people, I left my hometown after high school expecting to return only for visits. Having gone away to school and to live in the city, I returned to Carroll County in the early 1990s, expecting — I think — a sleepy rural community with little going on. I was wrong.
There are many Carroll Counties. They are defined by town lines and economics and shared interests. There is the Carroll County of the natives and the Carroll County of the vacationers and seasonal residents.
There is a vibrant community of the arts, music and literature, with people who are as creative and talented as any you could find anywhere. The diversity of talent goes beyond the arts, as many experts in a variety of fields choose to make their homes here. Someone pointed out to me at the height of the controversies over Club Motorsports’ plans to build a race track in Tamworth, when a number of local residents came forth with interpretations of sound studies for the track, he had never seen so many retired physicists in one town. There are those who love the outdoors and use their talents to conserve the land and bring greater awareness of the amazing landscape in which we live.
And too there is the Carroll County where people live on incomes at or below the poverty line, where people have to work two or more jobs to make ends meet and worry about how much it will cost to see a doctor if they get sick, never mind what happens if they get really sick. There is a Carroll County where sometimes people fall through the cracks and don’t get the help they need. It is not all roses, but there are many good people in these Carroll Counties too. One of the privileges of working for a newspaper is being welcomed into all these many Carroll Counties.
And better yet. For all the many little Carroll Counties, there is a greater community that is all of Carroll County, and there are many people who work to make it better everyday. I have seen many changes over the years. I expect Carroll County will continue to grow, as it has grown steadily for nearly half a century. But I expect there will continue to be many people who will look for ways to make it a great place to live.
It has truly been a privilege to get to know my home in this way.
— Terry Leavitt