Making friends

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 12, 2004

How do I begin?

I certainly realize that no one will ever fill the shoes of the late Helene C. Knight, editor of the Gates County Index, but I also know that the people I’ve met since being named Editor of the Index have been extremely gracious to me.

Each of them has extended a warm welcome and expressed confidence in my desire to provide the county residents with all the news of their respective communities.

As for my own community, Drum Hill, I love the long stretches of county roads bordered by beautiful fields of broad leafed tobacco, cotton, corn, peanuts and soybeans. I also enjoy my neighbors who are so thoughtful to &uot;keep an eye out&uot; for our home while my husband and I are away. That neighbor helping neighbor thing… well, that seems to be the norm in Gates County.

I’ve been here for only 10 years, transferring from Suffolk where I was a reporter for the Suffolk News-Herald. I moved when I met my husband, Joseph Allen, a native of Drum Hill. That’s one point that I really love about &uot;Joe&uot; and his Mom, Barbara Whitehurst Allen – they are natives with a farm family history that goes back almost 200 years.

&uot;Mama&uot; is one of four daughters – Rachel, Muriel, and Jackie – of the late Joseph Bonnie Whitehurst and his beloved Margaret Howell Whitehurst. The farm where Margaret was born and reared even has a family cemetery that dates back to pre-Civil War days.

Growing up in the military, I played hopscotch across this country with my parents. To me, being a native of anywhere would be wonderful and if I could choose, I really believe it would be Gates County. To Joseph and his family, there is no other place on earth that is as blessed as this county and most natives here seem to agree. The people here all consider each other friends and neighbors and that’s been a delightful discovery in my life.

I mention all this because in my time in the county, I have observed that people care for each other. No one is ever too busy to stop and chat or discuss the crops, politics, or some event coming up in their church or club.

That’s where I hope to come in; telling your stories of how the crops are doing, what events your church or club is sponsoring, how the family reunion went and what politicians and county officials are doing for you. And, certainly among the most important news, how our schools are providing the best in educational experiences and nutritional programs for your children and grandchildren. Of course, if there is a drug bust or other crime in county, I also plan to relate those details to you.

This past week, I attended a school board meeting where I was welcomed as if I’d already written a wonderful account of the board’s previous proceedings. Later in the week, as I visited Barons Restaurant for a quick sandwich one day – delicious by the way – I saw Sheriff Ed Webb, the Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Hahne and Vice-Chairman James Rountree. They were all most gracious and I look forward to working with them.

Needless to say, that after this wonderful first seven days as your editor, I can make this promise to my readers; I will do my best to write your stories, the chronicles of the people of beautiful Gates County. Right now, since we are just newly acquainted I use the term &uot;people,&uot; however; it is my prayer that you, my readers, will quickly become my &uot;friends and neighbors.&uot;

Friends – because you trust me to detail the history of your lives. Neighbors – because you know that I’m right here at the Index office in Gatesville, just catty-corner from the new Family Dollar store.

It is my hope that every reader of Gates County’s own newspaper will at some point stop by so that we can meet. I would also like to listen to your concerns and comments about the information I am providing to you. And, if you have a suggestion or story idea, I definitely want to talk with you!

You are my readers and I want to provide you with news you can use and news that will make you proud as you show off photos of your families and friends as they are published in the paper.

Gates County is a wonderful place – a place where there are plenty of good people. It is my hope that I will never meet a stranger in Gates County. I want you to know that I am simply your neighbor and I hope you and I will be friends five minutes after we meet.

I know that each of you has something of interest to talk about and I am waiting to hear from you. Stop by the Index office Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or give me a call at 357-0960. Shucks, you can even call me at home at 357-1097. If a man answers, that’s just good ol’ Joe!