Sunday column: A year to remember

I’ve had a few requests to post this … so here goes:

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One year ago this week, a fresh-fashed, handsome young man packed up his family and moved to Sanford, N.C., to start a new job and a new life.
Coincidentally, I moved up here at the same time to become the editor of The Sanford Herald.
I wonder whatever happened to the handsome guy.
Part of me feels like it was only yesterday when I drove 15 hours straight from Louisiana on a Sunday, began work on a Monday and attended the Chamber of Commerce banquet on a Tuesday. Another part of me can’t believe it’s only been a year since I got here.
For those of you who don’t know my life story (that is, most of you), my wife, Jennifer, and I came here from South Louisiana, where I was editor of a similarly sized newspaper for three years. Before that, we lived in Houston, Texas, and before that, it was Dallas. North Carolina is the farthest east either of us have ever lived, and if you don’t count my brief stint in Ohio as a toddler, it’s the farthest north as well.
So she and I were both surprised with how quickly Sanford became “home” to us. Yes, this column is pretty much my “thank-you card” to Lee County.
I’ll try not to get all mushy with you.
For some reason, many seem surprised when I tell them how much I like Sanford. Many of them have lived here most of their lives and have become blind to what makes this place great.
They don’t appreciate the weather, which offers the best mix of seasons you can ask for. Coming from the Deep South, my wife and I have grown accustomed to winters that last two weeks, a few months of spring then a brutal summer that runs from April to November. We were practically giddy this past June when highs stuck around in the low 80s (true, August and September stunk, but we’ve seen much worse).
I’ve written plenty of paragraphs in the past year about the parks in and around Lee County. In addition to San-Lee Park and Kiwanis, we’ve driven to nearby Raven Rock and up to Raleigh and Chapel Hill to take in the numerous hiking trails. Again, this is something many in our area take for granted now, but we came from a place that didn’t realize the importance of greenways and parks.
But weather and greenery aren’t enough to make Sanford “home.” It’s the people, pure and simple.
We’ve been blown away by the kindness of people in this area. From those who helped us find our first home to the hundreds of you who made our jobs both easy and fun. A year into our new life here, and we have more friends than we care to have (this means some of you are about to be dumped … just a warning), and we can’t go anywhere in town without running into somebody we know.
And it’s not because I’m the easiest person to get along with, either. It’s quite the opposite … the people here are the easy ones to get along with.
Then there’s the little things I love about this place. I can’t get over how clear the skies here are at night. I love the golfing. I love the scenic roads.
I’ve even come to appreciate college basketball (in fact, in my first-ever column here, I promised that I’d eventually pick a side when it comes to the local teams … I’m leaning Tar Heel blue, but my opinion can still be swayed).
I know my wife and I are not alone when it comes to “transplants” falling in love with central North Carolina. Sanford is being inundated with out-of-towners, whether it likes it or not, and more and more people — a lot of young couples — are finding this place to be a great place to live.
It’s been a great first year, and I’m looking forward to more.
Next week, I’ll take a look back at the changes we’ve tried to implement at The Herald in my first year and look forward to what’s on the horizon. It’s an exciting time at The Herald, and we’re glad you’ve chosen to stick with us.

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