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Samantha Jones

Sam's Notebook

Samantha Jones is a former associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers.

Opinion

One door closesÖ

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Seven years ago, I wrote my first column for Carroll County News. It was the first of many, and I rarely skipped a week. According to very rudimentary math, Iíve written more than 250 columns since that first one in 2014.

And today, I write my last.

Yes, this is my last week working at Carroll County Newspapers. I have accepted a wonderful job in the Eureka Springs community, a job Iím ecstatic to start. Itís a big change, an exciting challenge and a fantastic way to keep doing good in the community I love. I am truly over the moon.

That excitement doesnít come without sadness. For seven years, Iíve covered city council meetings, chili cook-offs, community center developments and so much more. I was there when Bryan Pruitt was named superintendent of the Eureka Springs School District. I was there when the Eureka Springs Farmerís Market moved to the community center from Pine Mountain Village. I was there when fire chiefs and police chiefs and council members left their positions. Iíve seen so many people come and go, and now Iím the one going.

It feels weird. Almost unreal. I keep waiting to wake up from a dream, and Gideon keeps reminding me that this is real life.

As I wrap up my time at Carroll County News, I canít stop thinking about everything this community has given me over the years. Gideon and I moved here in 2014 with less than $1,000 and two pieces of furniture. I was a reporter for the paper. He worked at a hotel in Eureka Springs.

Today, he teaches at Eureka Springs Middle School, Iím associate editor at the paper and we own a beautiful four-bedroom, two-bathroom home on the outskirts of Eureka Springs. Oh, and five cats. Regular readers know I could never write a final column without mentioning our cats!

Weíve accomplished so much through hard work and strong communication, but I know none of it would have been possible without our community. Carroll County has kindly embraced us from the start. I still remember the first reader email I got in 2014.

Itís hearing from people like you that kept me going through late night meetings and complex, dry stories. I didnít go into this job knowing everything. Iíd say I didnít know much at all, to be honest. I learned how to become a better community newspaper editor and overall person through every meeting, event and article. I am happy to say I am still learning. I hope I am always learning.

No matter what, I knew I had a captive community to serve. I had a duty to get things right. My deepest hope is that I always did my best to get it right and took full ownership when I got it wrong. Nobody is perfect, but we can all strive to be better. There is no shame in admitting to your mistakes. In fact, I believe thatís the mark of oneís true character.

A job like this isnít necessarily easy. Journalists have to read disturbing police reports, work long hours and understand that their every mistake is in print. The pressure is intense, but so is the reward. Over the past seven years, Iíve met hundreds of people who have shaped the person I am.

One person stands out in particular, and I never even met him. In 2015, Cory Lewis was killed in a car accident. Cory was an employee at the Green Forest School District and well-loved in the community. Writing about a scholarship established in his honor, I learned more and more about him. He had such a magnetic spirit. He lived passionately. He inspired me to live passionately. Gideon and I still have his picture on our refrigerator after all these years.

As I end my time at Carroll County News, I am thankful for everyone Iíve gotten to know in our community. I hope all of you know how much you mean to me ó so much that Iím tearing up in these last paragraphs.

To my wonderful coworkers, thank you. To all you readers, thank you. To city leaders, thank you. To the nonprofits and schools, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Itís time to move on, but Iíll never forget my time at Carroll County Newspapers. How could I?

Itís been a blast.