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Thank you Clayton County

Editor Jim Zachary

Editor Jim Zachary

Coming of age during the Watergate era, it seemed there was little other choice for the direction life would take.

Journalism was never really a career choice — it was more of a calling.

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein weren’t just newsmen who became news-makers, they were iconic and embodied everything it meant to be a journalist.

When it came to role models there was Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, William Randolph Hearst, Joseph Pulitzer — and then there was Woodward and Bernstein.

While selling and delivering Grit newspaper in the early 1970s, it was not until 1978 when Steve Spence, editor at the Auburndale Star, gave a high school newspaper editor the chance to work at the local community paper. The young journalist, with ink in his blood, was writing news, taking photographs, photo typesetting, pasting up pages and doing whatever needed to be done.

The rest of the story is a lifetime of reporting, editing and being a newspaperman.

Over the course of the past two decades, that shy, awkward, high school newspaper editor has been one of the most highly decorated journalists in Georgia and Tennessee as the result of a career that has been hallmarked by open government advocacy and championing the First Amendment.

Serving as editor of the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald for the past two years has definitely been a high point in that career.

In newspapers, and in life, changes happen.

Sometimes opportunities come at the most unexpected times and doors open that just feel like the right opportunity at the right time.

Such an opportunity to serve as editor for a daily south Georgia newspaper and specialty publications is exciting, but leaving these newspapers and covering these communities is nevertheless difficult.

Clayton County has been so receptive to the watchdog journalism and open government advocacy and the reception has been deeply appreciated.

There are people that have made such an impression that they must not go unmentioned.

First, Jean Peacock is a woman who loves her community and simply chooses to rise above the negativity. She is a wonderful example for us all.

Former Clayton News Daily publisher and owner Jim Wood is dignified, articulate and has been so supportive. I wish he and I could have been in the same era in the News Daily’s history and worked side by side.

Dr. Henry Anderson is a man who is not afraid to tell it like it is. Whether you agree or disagree with him, it must be admitted that he shines the light on things other people would rather keep hidden and he believes that government should be responsive to those it governs.

Hugh Waddy has been a great sounding board, represents many of the values of his fellow residents and like Jean and Henry cares about the place he calls home and wants it to be the very best it can be in every way.

Bobby Cartwright should be mentioned just because he is who he is (don’t know that I’ve known a mayor quite like the mayor of Lovejoy and that’s not a bad thing at all).

In fact, Bobby conducts the most resident-friendly civic meetings I’ve ever attended.

BOC Chairman Jeff Turner has brought about a lot of positive changes, presides with energy and enthusiasm, is accessible to ordinary people, my only hope is that he will redouble his efforts toward greater transparency with fewer executive sessions, opting to conduct all the county’s business out in the open.

Former Morrow Mayor Jim Milliron was one of the first public officials to reach out to me when I arrived in Clayton County, a giant of a man in so many ways, we need more like him.

Though he and I may certainly disagree on some things I must say I just really enjoy talking to Wade Starr. He has always been straightforward, to the point, perhaps blunt at times, but always a gentleman to me.

There are so many other people who could and should be mentioned, but that is because the people of Clayton County are what gives this county its character.

Thank you Clayton County for making me feel like a part of the the community and for allowing me to serve you.

I leave you in good hands with the excellent staff at the Clayton News Daily. It has been an honor and privilege to work with them these past two years.