We can#039;t dwell on the bad news

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 27, 2003

When bad news comes, they say it always comes in twos and threes. This week has been no exception.

On Monday, one of my reporters and good friends said he would be leaving for another job. Although I know the turnover rate at a newspaper is generally pretty high, I wasn't expecting this bit of news.

That was strike one.

Later in the week, it was announced that Tommy Grimes was leaving Andalusia High School as band director for a position in Panama City, Fla.

He was my high school band director and a good friend.

Strike two.

Then, Friday, a longtime friend and co-worker announced she was leaving for a position in Enterprise.

Strike three.

Does this mean I'm out?

I hope not, but never, in a million years did I expect to receive three bouts of bad news all at once.

Of course, to all of the three people, their impending departure is a good thing for them. Each one has obtained a position in a location closer to their home or family. And each one has left an indelible mark on me.

The first one, Stan J. Griffin, has been a good friend to me since my return to Andalusia one year ago. A great reporter who's more concerned with getting the facts and an accurate story than the sensationalistic ruses many reporters are more concerned about.

Stan helped re-establish relationships with groups and organizations in Covington County that had become a little testy with the newspaper. He is respected as a reporter by those who read his stories. He writes the stories readers can be secure in knowing are accurate and informative.

When Tommy Grimes resignation was announced, I didn't really know how to take that bit of news.

Grimes started his career at AHS the same year I entered high school in 1989 as a freshman. I guess you could say we went through high school together.

From arriving at AHS with a band that was not up to par with a little more than 80 students, to whipping it into shape in just a few weeks into the most dominant band in south Alabama - Grimes worked his musical magic.

He earned the respect of his students from the first day. And those who didn't give him the respect he deserved and demanded learned rather quickly to give it to him.

In that first year, Grimes turned the Bulldog Band into winners. Defeating much larger bands as the T.R. Miller band, Dothan High School Band and Jeff Davis Bands in competition.

Through the years, he developed a band program that other bands feared and respected. Journeying to Orlando, Fla. for an international competition in just his second year, Grimes put 89 students up against bands with hundreds - and walked away the winner. He and his students. It was a team effort. He instilled in them PRIDE.

When my other co-worker and friend Debbie Mock announced she was leaving, it was almost too much for me to take in one week.

Debbie had befriended me when I first came to work at the Star-News back in 1997 in the composing department. One of the most talented, creative, and caring people I know, the opportunity to work again with Debbie was one of the big reasons I returned to Andalusia.

She was the ultimate professional and is returning to Enterprise, where she lives, to be with her family more. Something we all should consider doing.

Of all the news I've received this week, hers' was the hardest to take. She essentially trained me in the world of ad design, and for four years, we worked side-by-side and shared many laughs and sorrows together.

She is also one of my biggest supporters outside of my own family. She's really like family, and she will be missed when she clocks out for the last time in a few weeks.

But, with all the bad news, I know that things will get better. When God closes one door, he opens many more. It's up to us to walk through them and choose the right path.

I will miss all of these people when they say goodbye for the final time, but know in my heart that I have three good friends, each of whom has earned my respect and admiration for the job they do and the person they are.

My grandmother used to tell me you can't live in the past, or else you'll worry yourself to death about the future. That applies to this past week. I can't dwell on everything that's happened, but only look forward to the good things that can come from those who replace them.