Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Grateful Hometown Pasco coordinator says farewell

I've completed Hometown Pasco for the final time. It's bittersweet but I know that change often brings new adventures and I look forward to that.

Fear not. Hometown Pasco is in the best hands possible, those of Jean Hayes in the Times' Hernando bureau. Jean was creating Hometown Hernando long before I was hired in 2004 to create Pasco's version. Jean showed me the ropes and we became good friends. I'm confident Pasco's community news will thrive.

Hometown Pasco celebrated its 10th anniversary on April 18. In that decade there was never an edition missed and most weeks there was such an abundance of news I puzzled if there was space for it all.

Editors, page designers and photo techs were incredible with their skills and my job seemed a small role.

I'm thankful for the opportunity to have compiled community news each week and become friends with some of the finest people I know — Pasco County residents. It's often been an emotionally packed experience to gather and prepare news sent in envelopes and emails. I've tried to keep in mind the immense impact on those smiling from pictures.

This hit solidly during my first days on the job in the spring of 2004. A young Land O'Lakes father was dying and community members rallied with fundraisers to help his family during his last days and see them through the difficult days after he was gone. The depth of caring from the people in the community was touching. They reached out with no thoughts of recognition in a newspaper. They were just being good compassionate people.

As the years rolled on, I'd often get a phone call or email from someone relaying the importance of a Hometown photo. Several years ago, an elderly woman was in hospice care. Her birthday was approaching and, with her days numbered, the hospice staff planned an early celebration. They sent pictures and asked how soon they could run. I moved to get the news in quickly, while the hospice staff urged the patient to hang on because she was going to be "in the paper."

Lying in her bed, smiling, she stared at the Hometown page. A few days later she was gone.

This defines the power of community news that's clipped, stuck on refrigerators, pasted into scrapbooks and mailed to relatives in faraway states. I've often heard my favorite response, usually said quietly with a grin, "I've never been in the paper before."

Thousands of faces have graced Hometown Pasco's pages. A menagerie of animals including dogs, a guinea pig, a llama, an armadillo and a possum among others, have appeared. Hundreds of children have been included, including 5-year-olds — they're high school age now — in an Easter parade back in 2004. As years passed, volumes of pictures highlighted those who contribute in many ways to make communities stronger or win awards for their efforts. It's been a joy to post every picture and to type each name.

With an enormously grateful heart, I am thankful to many — Bill Stevens, who hired me to create Hometown Pasco; five editors — Lisa Buie, Jon O'Neill, Sharon Tubbs, Bridget Grumet and Molly Moorhead — who've tolerated my staunch allegiance to Pasco people in running every tidbit of news I could cram onto the Hometown page.

It's to Pasco County people whom I've honored and loved through 30 years of teaching and 10 years of news reporting that I owe the most profound thanks. I have realized that a joy of life comes from believing there are everywhere among us, good people doing good things for good reasons, all the time.

It has been gratifying and humbling to have been your Hometown Pasco news coordinator. From that role, I bid you a fond farewell.

Hometown Pasco news can be sent to jhayes@tampabay.com.

Grateful Hometown Pasco coordinator says farewell 04/25/14 [Last modified: Friday, April 25, 2014 1:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bullpen melts down as Rays lose to Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Jacob Faria allowed his first two big-league home runs and was touched for a career-high three runs Saturday by the Orioles. Other than that, the rookie making his fourth major-league start did okay against the Baltimore bats.

    The bullpen, not so much.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Jumbo Diaz wipes his face as he walks off the mound after the Baltimore Orioles scored four runs during the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 24, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) SPD118
  2. Lightning shifts search for defense to free agency

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — As much as he tried, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman left the weekend's draft without acquiring another top-four defenseman.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101
  3. Half of Florida lawmakers fail or nearly fail review of support for public records

    State Roundup

    WEST PALM BEACH — Half of Florida's legislators failed or nearly failed in a review of their support for public records and meetings given by Florida newspapers and an open-government group after this year's legislative sessions.

    State Senator Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton (left) and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran ranked on opposite sides of the spectrum in an analysis of support for open records. Galvano scored a B-minus and Corcoran scored a D-plus.
[Times file photo]
  4. Yale dean on leave over offensive Yelp reviews leaves post

    Bizarre News

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Yale University dean who was placed on leave over offensive reviews she posted on Yelp has left her position at the Ivy League institution, school officials said Tuesday.

  5. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]