I’ve spent the past 8½ years at the Buffalo Bulletin interviewing some of the community’s most amazing people, covering some of the harsher facts of life and learning the ins and outs of the place I grew up in and am raising my family in.

It’s been an amazing experience, and I have been honored to be a part of such a great paper and team.

But I’ve come to a crossroads. I have an opportunity to continue my work in journalism while also devoting more time to my family, which is too great an opportunity to pass up right now. And so my last day at the Buffalo Bulletin is May 7.

It’s bitter sweet. I’m excited for new challenges, but I’m sad to leave a post where I’ve learned so much.

The past eight years have been eye opening. I’ve learned that most of the time, people just want to be heard, that there’s nothing more important than accuracy when it comes to journalism, that everyone has a story, that there is good in most and that a strong community is strong because of the people who call it home.

I’ve learned that you can disagree with someone but still respect him or her. I’ve learned that there are times when you apologize and times when you have to stand strong in your beliefs. I’ve learned there is no way to please everyone. There are going to be people who don’t like you, and that’s OK – though that was a tough lesson to learn.

I’ve learned that the power of someone who is fighting cancer is unmatched.

I’ve learned that empathy is imperative, and people are usually upset or angry for reasons deeper than we know. Trying to understand where they are coming from goes a long way. We could all use a little more sympathy and understanding.

I’ve learned that Johnson County is a giving community and one that is home to many talented people, from musicians, to artists, to teachers, to health care providers, to students, to people in the trades, to amazing parents and grandparents. This county is packed with pride and for good reason.

Being a part of the Bulletin has allowed me opportunities that I never would have had otherwise. I’ve been able to meet some of these amazing people, learn their stories and share those stories with the rest of the community. I learned the ins and outs of the county’s budget, the hospital’s budget, the city’s budget – all of the budgets. And in doing so, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of the community and the people who live here.

This isn’t goodbye. I’ll still see you at the grocery store, basketball games and community events. I will still be in Buffalo – just wearing a different hat.

But for now, I’ll leave you with this – thank you, Johnson County, for allowing me to tell your stories and for helping me grow. I’ve enjoyed the hell out of the past 8½ years.

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