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Tag: WiseWords

Change comes when it’s ready

I hope to be much older still before I’m done, but I have already lived long enough to hold several worlds in my hands.

First, there was my childhood, where we played outside, slapped at mosquitoes and ran freely back and forth to neighbors’ houses without our parents worrying if we would make it there safely. The only “hand-held devices” we had were books or toys, only a few of which had batteries. I was 5 or 6 the year Santa brought me Baby First Step, with her hard plastic hinged battery compartment and her lurching, straight-legged steps.

We took two-week vacations every year, through which my parents occasionally fought. Marriage is challenging, starting out like shiny high heels and ending up like galoshes sloshing through life’s puddles.

Everything was smaller somehow, but we also had more space. COVID-19 would not have posed as many challenges back then because we weren’t as crammed together, in classrooms, stores, life.

My childhood wasn’t perfect and, as I later learned, no one’s really is.

Then, there were my 20s, when I got my first car phone, which came in a shoebox-sized padded pouch and had to be plugged into the car charger to work. It was more reminiscent of a field phone during World War II than today’s pocket-sized cellular devices.

We still exercised outside, running down the street instead of squaring up to a treadmill. And we did our shopping at the mall, where we had a buffet of retail options. Weather forecasts came from the evening news, and we just muddled along in between, looking out the window or stepping outside to guess what might be coming next.

And then I had children of my own. They started out in a world without electronics. We didn’t even have cable television, which meant there was nothing to see – literally – on our TV. They played in the mud, built things out of large cardboard blocks and went to parks.

The toys became increasingly sophisticated. My younger daughter had a robotic cat, while my son had a radio-controlled dinosaur.

But as they reached their early teens that all changed when they got cell phones.

Now, their favorite shows are livestreamed, their friends are a touchscreen away, the outside is where children go to practice sports with dreams of competing professionally dancing in their heads.

No one knows what will happen next, what their children will grow up to do, what options they will have, what toys they will put on their Christmas lists.

I know there are some experiences they are unlikely to have. Gone are the downtown department stores we visited regularly to buy everything from Girl Scout uniforms to toys. The freedom I once had as a child has already been replaced by the tracking devices of our phones.

I liked my childhood, loved my early adulthood and I think my children liked theirs, as well.

But change is constant, even sneaky, and often surprises us. Peering around corners doesn’t protect us from the future; it only steals the present.

Change comes when it’s ready and we always adapt.

Here is an update on your new Crestview News Bulletin

As I write this, we are entering week No. 2 of bringing you the Crestview News Bulletin.

For the worst of reasons – you didn’t get your paper – I have spoken to more of you than I probably will on this issue ever again.

You were calling me about Wednesday’s paper, which we no longer publish. As you can tell from the paper you’re reading now, we publish on Thursday.

While it was hard having to disappoint those of you that I talked to, it was also wonderful to speak to each and every one of you. You could not have been more kind or gracious once you understood we were in transition and had not had a way to get in touch with you and prepare you.

That’s why I’m using this space this week to make sure you know everything I can tell you about your new paper.

We are hiring staff.

We are publishing once a week instead of twice.

We will continue to use the U.S. Postal Service for delivery. We print the papers on Tuesday, deliver them to stores and the post office on Wednesday and you should get them on Thursday.

We are looking for an office space in Crestview.

We are very interested in your local news, announcements, businesses and advertising.

The first week was extra challenging because we didn’t have access to the emails, social media or websites that have been associated with the Crestview News Bulletin. That is all being worked out and we hope to stay connected with you in a number of ways moving forward.

I had the pleasure of attending the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly networking breakfast last week. This one was hosted by the Blackwater Golf Club, which is being opened by the City of Crestview this spring. They know how to throw a party!

I’ve been to my share of chamber breakfasts in my 20-plus years of journalism and can’t remember one quite as fun. Nor can I remember being welcomed so warmly by everyone from Boy Scout leaders to city council members and business owners.

I especially enjoyed the putting contest on stage, which was taken very seriously by the teams of people who were selected. There was much cheering, razzing, laughing and checking to make sure no one was cheating.

I didn’t make my way around the room in time, but it was also great to see a table of north Okaloosa County educators at the breakfast. I would have liked to meet each of you, but I ran out of time. Please send your school news, for now, to me at I know there are a lot of great things going on in our schools and I know our readers want to see and hear more from you.

A quick update on the news in last week’s paper about the City of Crestview taking over animal control from the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society. City officials told me that they have temporarily contracted with Walton County to provide animal control while they get an internal department up and running and properly housed.

The number at the former Crestview News Bulletin office is 850-682-6524. Please call that with questions, comments or concerns.

My cell is 850-598-0176 if you are having trouble reaching us.

Good lord willing and the creeks don’t rise, you will have your paper in your mailbox on Thursday.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Looking forward to learning more about your community

If you’re reading this the first week in January, you’re probably wondering why my column is here. I’m not new to the area or to the newspaper industry. You might even recognize my name, or at least the first part of it.

For more than two decades, I worked and wrote a weekly column for a daily paper in the area, before choosing to return to my community journalism roots.

I love nothing better than getting to know – or becoming reacquainted with – a new area. From meeting the people to understanding its culture, and telling its stories.

Crestview is another form of home for me, not too far up the road from Fort Walton Beach, where we’ve lived for more than 25 years.

Like some of you, I remember Crestview when it was skinnier. When you could drive from north to south and it was like slicing through a ribbon, not trawling past a vast expanse of homes and school and businesses. Crestview, you have grown up. And out.

I spent the day there in late December, just to start exploring and I was amazed. Yes, the city has grown and so has its sprawl. But the new courthouse is beautiful, I love the archway approaching it from the west, the downtown felt revived and I was charmed by its mix of new and old businesses, elbow to elbow on the street that felt like the downtowns of my childhood.

I saw the new public pool, had coffee at Casbah’s, met a Vietnam veteran who charmed me with his life stories and toured the new Blackwater Golf Course.

But there is so much more to see and that’s where all of you come into play.
For us to tell the stories of Crestview, the way we have for Navarre for more than 20 years, we need your help.

We need you to tell us what matters to you, what your children are doing in school, what you like about the city’s direction, what you miss about the good old days.I’m pretty easy to reach. My cell is 850-598-0176 and my email is

We’ll be posting stories daily on and updating our Crestview Newspaper Facebook page.

There is a paywall on our website, and I know that will make some of you unhappy. As I said earlier, I’ve been in this business a long time and have seen a lot of changes. I love this business and I love writing news and features about your community.

But to make a commitment to your community, we need your commitment to us. We can’t do it for free.
That’s a challenge for another day, though.

In the meantime, please send me your thoughts, your story ideas, your amazing photos of the town you call home. You can email, you can call, you can text. I’m looking forward to learning about you and Crestview, about your businesses, history and community organizations.

Talk to you soon, I hope.

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