“You’re moving where?” is the question I’ve answered most in the last two weeks, since accepting the position as managing editor for the Grove Sun.
After hearing my answer — in the corner of northeast Oklahoma, roughly an hour or so from Joplin, Mo., Rogers, Ark., and Tulsa, Okla. — the next question that followed typically was “so how far is it to Starbucks?” Oh, my friends know me so well — judging by the laughter that would follow.
(For the record, I had a great latte at Cafe Yum on Wednesday that could give Starbucks a run for its money, and the coffee at Daylight Donuts is pretty sweet as well.)
The last two weeks have been a blur of activity — think warp speed — as I’ve accepted this new opportunity, packed up my life in Little Rock and found an apartment here in Grove.
In the midst of unpacking, I even found time to hang out at prom on Saturday night and take a few pictures — which frankly, was a pleasant diversion.
So I thought I’d use this first column to simply answer a few questions I’m sure you’re thinking.
Why the Grove Sun?
This position gives me a chance to jump back into the newsroom and pursue two things I am passionate about — writing and photography. I love community journalism and know how a strong paper can be an asset to its residents.
I’ll be honest and say, that moving to Grove puts me closer to 90 percent of my friends and family (with the exception of those who live in Little Rock), so that’s definitely a huge plus.
I’m a “Joplin, Mo., Metro” girl. I grew up on a dairy (now beef and horse) farm equal distance from Carthage, Diamond and Joplin. I went to school in Diamond, church in Carthage and college in Joplin — and worked in newspapers throughout southwest Missouri.
My parents and brother still live on the farm. I have a nephew, Collin, and a niece, Taylor. I also have several “adopted” kidlets (children of friends) in my life who call me Aunt Kaylea, including the “Palmer Five” and more. This move puts me closer to most of them, but I promise not to bore you with too many pictures.
So you have this seminary degree...
Yes, I went to seminary. It was the best four years of my life. To say it was life changing would almost be an understatement.
I went to seminary to pursue a career in writing for the church. Along the way, I fell in love with working with students — youth first, then children. Since 2007, I’ve worked for two churches within the Arkansas United Methodist conference as a children’s pastor.
Does this mean I’ll cover religious stuff for the paper? Yes. But frankly, I’ll cover it, just like I would cover school, government and anything else that comes across my desk that is newsworthy — with a mixture of justice and mercy.
What’s up with the “ma’am” and “sir” bit?
Remember, I’ve been working with children in the “south” — their lessons in manners rubbed off. So don’t be surprised if I call you sir or ma’am. It just kind of rolls off the tongue now.
(And yes, I’ll probably answer to Miss Kaylea...that, too, is another southern habit that will be hard to break.)
So what’s next?
Honestly, I’m open to meeting people around Grove, and getting to know the city and northeast Oklahoma. I’ve already started making the rounds, introducing myself.
If you see me around town, feel free to say hi. If you have a story idea or a suggestion or two, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or catch me in person. You can even leave me a message on the Grove Sun’s Facebook page.
Oh yeah, one other thing. Please don’t give me directions to something like I’ve lived here all my life — I’ll just end up lost, and that will just give my friends more to laugh about on Facebook.