I’ve been at the Daily American Republic for over 15 years. It’s hard to believe how fast and how slow time can pass.
I collected more than my fair share of stories about my co-workers during this time, both funny, happy and sad.
Someone I’ve worked closely with over the years is Associate Editor Paul Davis.
I don’t know exactly how it happened, but for many years we had acquired the rhythm of “disaster”.
This meant that if there was a fire, flood, train derailment or other disaster, we were usually the ones sent to cover it.
We waded through the high waters of Piedmont when flash floods badly damaged sections of the city in 2008. Paul and I watched with great surprise on this trip someone at an evacuee shelter pull out a very unfortunate pig and adult from the trunk of a car. We weren’t sure we’d be able to get back to Poplar Bluff due to flash flooding that continued to close the roads, but we met our morning deadline.
We were still doing the morning paper one way or another (causing endless tense moments for those on the other side of the production line, I know).
Another year we were on the road in time to be in Silva at sunrise after a tornado and then back to Poplar Bluff to have copies and photos ready for our 10:30 a.m. deadline.
There was a trip to Van Buren for a fire that destroyed the building housing the Current Local, and later for the historic flood of 2017. We were under the Current River Bridge when the roof of a house floated downstream.
Other trips took us to Dexter for a train derailment and sections of southern Butler County for more flooding and tornadoes.
There was also the hunt for tagged rattlesnakes with the staff of the Mingo Wildlife Sanctuary, a canoe trip for a story about fall travels, and a—thankfully remote—encounter with a rather large cottonmouth.
And of course, the five-year inspections of the Wappapello Dam, where water is drawn to allow officials inside the tunnel to get to the spillway outlet.
Despite the millions of gallons of water that have flowed through this tunnel for over 80 years, you can still see the wood grain imprint on the walls from the boards used to form the concrete.
Working in the newspaper industry can be a bit like this – a constant, sometimes brutal flow of information, too often moving at a breakneck pace.
It may be true that the reader doesn’t often remember the byline or photo credit, but the imprint of the moments we captured, the emotions and the toll of tragedy and triumph, continue to hold. They live in the permanent records kept in places like the Poplar Bluff Municipal Library Archives, the information screens and books that include DAR clippings in places like the Lake Wappapello Visitor Center and , most importantly, the carefully preserved newspaper clippings of the family members whose lives were touched.
Paul has been a part of it for over 24 years, but over time our dreams and priorities change, and that will happen for Paul next week. He closes this chapter for a job that will give him more time to focus on his true passions, photography and being a grandfather.
We are all sad to say goodbye, but excited for Paul and all the good we know is to come in his next chapter.
Donna Farley is the editor of the Daily American Republic. She can be contacted at [email protected]