Over the course of my years in Gonzales, there have been many stories and events that have touched me or have been very profound for our community. In my last column, I thought I’d try and lay out what the top 10 things are I will take with me as I move to Kingsville. These 10 things are not in any particular order. Here is my list:
Creating the Come and Taste It Craft Beer and Wine festival
I got the idea to do this from good friends and colleagues in New Braunfels. I volunteered for their spring festival years ago. It was a great time and brought people in from all over Texas. When I got to Gonzales, I immediately thought this would be a perfect idea for both the city of Gonzales and the newspaper as well. Promoting the city and bringing in out-of-towners to spend money locally was a great idea, I thought. In addition, as you know the newspaper was not well liked or respected in the community when I got here, and it was my belief that if we did something that would help the retail, food and beverage business, and promote tourism at the same time the newspaper would be the beneficiary of a lot of good will. It worked on all counts, and I’m just so sad we can’t do it this year. I would have loved to hear Augie Meyers and Bethany Becker play.
Meeting the great people and community of Gonzales
What can I say folks? You have made me feel welcomed and a part of this community unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. You have been very fair to me. When I arrived, I knew all of you were checking me out and waiting to see if I would deliver on the promises I made to many of you individually and collectively. My word is my bond and I think that made everything good with us. I have come to know you value your family, your God, hard work, honesty and ice-cold beer. I have shared those values all my life but coming here brought out the best in me and I will always cherish the memory of each and every one of you.
Come and Take It festival
I interviewed for the publisher job on the weekend of Come and Take It, and I was really impressed with the size and scope of the event. I thought ‘Heck, this ‘Burg really jumps.’’’
On Saturday of CTI, I knew I had to come to Gonzales after watching the chicken flying contest. I was sitting on the patio of Come and Take It bar when the contest started. I laughed my keister off when I saw little kids sticking a toilet plunger up a chicken’s rear end to make it fly. I had never seen that before. I thought, “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Welcome to Gonzales, Mr. Michigander.
Now I knew when I got here that brisket was big in Texas, but I will always smile at the memory of listening to y’all talk about cooking brisket and what makes it right and what does not. I’ve heard so many arguments over brisket I think I could start a brisket counseling service on the order of marriage counseling. But I have got to tell y’all: I have tasted some of the best darn brisket in the state of Texas at the cook-offs and private parties I’ve gone too. Keep barbecuing Gonzales.
EMS scandal and the miraculous recovery
Covering the EMS story in 2018 has been one of the hardest stories I’ve ever had to cover. On the one hand, the department was known for quality service in the field, but the mismanagement was appalling. How to get the information out fairly while being given a lot of insider stories was a fine line to walk. After looking into it, it was clear to me wholesale changes needed to be made at the top and at the board level because the boots on the ground -- the EMS techs and employees -- were the ones who were getting shafted. I wrote the story based on board meetings and official documents. In the end, I won the best news coverage award in the better newspaper contest. While that was rewarding for me from a journalistic perspective, it still did not solve the fundamental problem of funding EMS properly and getting the equipment they needed. They were almost bankrupt. Last week, that all changed when the ESD and EMS merged. In less than two years, the service is financially solvent and is going to soar in the future. It is nothing short of miraculous. I was proud to cover the story and play a minor role in helping it get back on its feet by providing continuous coverage of the problems they were facing.
Tubing the rivers
Now there are some 20-somethings in this town who believe you should never have let this Yankee float the rivers. We had some great fun on the sand bar and floating in Luling, and I will miss those times. I am taking my tubes with me, but I will be bringing them back when I come back to visit.
Conversations under the stars
Whether it was sitting on the patio at Come and Take It, the back patio at the Running M or the outdoor area behind the Long Branch, some of the best conversations and information gathering that a newspaper guy could ever want occurred there. I made so many friends and business relationships, had so many great talks, ideas and fun that I will surely miss it. Heck, it’s where I met Miss Kasey, so it had to be special.
32 reasons to do business in Gonzales
Two years ago, former EDC director Genora Young came to me with an idea: “What do you think about doing a story-a-week on all the major businesses in Gonzales? At the end, I want to put them all in a book and use it as a selling piece for the city.” I instantly agreed. Every week after that I did stories on BYK, Purina, TXGN, the College, the Hospital and a host of other businesses. I got to meet the senior management and learned so much about our community it helped in my job as publisher. Many of the people I interviewed are now good friends, and I want to thank them for their time, trust and cooperation.
I am so proud and honored to have met some of the finest men and women in our community who served their country. From Bob Young and Henry Salas to Tim Mitchell, I was honored and touched to hear your stories and tell them to the community. You are all heroes. You stood your post, you did your duty, and you came home. I salute all of you. I need to give a special shout out to Dick and Juan at the VFW and David Tucy at Veterans Affairs. Thanks for sharing with me and helping me while I was here. Semper Fidelis.
My new lifetime friends
I cannot in any way describe how sad I am at leaving all of you. I am going to miss the conversations, laughter and good times. I will miss you. Even though I will be around on a regular basis, it still pulls at my heart strings to be leaving all of you behind on a daily basis. Call me. Better yet, come see me. I’m not far from Baffin Bay so we can go fishing and lie to each other all day. And while I am off to seek a newer world, I want to say thank you for everything and sharing your lives with me. This is Wastewater, and I’m out of here.