Many work behind scenes here

Published 12:52 am Saturday, October 8, 2011

When most of the rest of the world ends its work day, something is just beginning in the Star-News building.

Every week night, we print at least two newspapers, and on some nights, we have as many as six newspapers and seven press runs to get on the street by morning.

Each of those newspapers or newspaper sections passes through multiple sets of hands. Some have other sections of the paper and/or advertising inserts “stuffed” into them. Some get mail labels. All are bundled in some fashion and loaded into delivery vehicles.

These are long and often thankless jobs done by a wonderful group of people.

Chris Love came to Andalusia to play basketball at LBW. He took a part-time job in our mailroom, got interested in how the press worked, and eventually became the pressroom manager. He is a husband and father, a fisherman, and an avid Alabama fan. When I hear the text message alert during a game, I smile; I know it’s an “RTR” from Chris.

Chad Adams, who helps run the press, is a new dad who leaves a sweet baby girl to come to work every night. That can’t be easy.

Barbara Mitchell, called “Babs” here, runs the mailroom side of things with military precision. I often kid her that I’m sure if I applied for a job in her department, I wouldn’t make the cut. She is tough, but then she has to be: she’s been keeping Wilbur straight for years.

Geneva Calloway, or “Gen,” has a heart as big as she is, and is affectionately called “Mama” or “Mama G” by most who work with her. Sabre “Lulu” Barnes and Edna “Toot” Brundidge, have been with the newspaper since 1997 and ’98, respectively. That’s a long time to be loyal to a part-time job, and we appreciate them.

Mary Crittendon is certain that she and her co-workers got the brunt end of the deal when Tommy and I stopped eating bread and desserts and consequently, cooked less.

“You used to bring us all kind of good stuff, boss lady,” she reminds me at least twice a week. Every now and then, I still oblige.

DeeDee Lamont has been a fixture, off and on, for years. Laurel Kirkland is a relative newcomer whose story inspires us all.

Chris Halford, Justin Halford and Tony Smith put up with my constant haranguing when they support their team. “Orange does not meet the dress code; I’m writing you up.” They laugh good-naturedly and make all kinds of promises.

Patrick Carthen and Jarron Grissett wear the right color, red, and are constantly being asked to teach the “dress code” to their peers.

When the stress of deadlines in the front part of the building get to be too much, a quick walk through the breezeway to the press and mailroom can change everything. We laugh a lot together.

As National Newspaper Week ends, I wanted each of them to know how important they are to me, to the newspapers they produce, and in turn, to all who read them.