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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • LEVI PAYTON: Thanks for the good times

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  • Well, I guess the word is out.
    If you read Todd Higdon’s wonderful column this week (thanks again, Todd), you know this was my final week at the Neosho Daily News. I’ve accepted a position in the sports department at The Joplin Globe. In fact, by the time you’re reading this, my desk has already been cleared out and my key turned in. And, I’m man enough to admit, I probably cried a little.
    If this is the first you’ve heard I’m leaving, I should give you a second to do some cartwheels.
    Go ahead. I’ll wait.
    Now that the hard part is out of the way, I want to emphasize what a pleasure it’s been to work for my hometown paper. This chapter in my life started as a dream. You see, I can still remember the day in journalism class at Crowder College when I sat staring out the window and daydreamed of one day being sports editor at the Neosho Daily News. Thankfully, it came true.
    We all have hopes and dreams, right? While most journalists aim towards working at places like The Kansas City Star or New York Times, I was the guy with little interest in chasing big city lights.
    I grew up at Morse Park watching Dean Keeling make history in this town, and what he did still has a major influence on me. As a kid, I played about every sport under the sun. We could always look forward to grabbing an issue of the Daily News that week and finding my name in the recaps he’d print. It meant a lot to me then, and I knew when I took this job I owed it to these kids too.
    In my first year we had some technical issues that didn’t allow us to get those results in the paper. It was the fault of no man, and the public was very understanding. But this year, with help from Neosho Little League — namely Angie Leach and Valerie Garrett — we managed to get all of those results printed with photos. I can’t thank them enough for their help. As a kid at heart, it meant a lot for me to get those published. I think Dean would have been proud. Thanks again, ladies.
    To that point, I also owe a great big thank you to Susan Elledge and Mary Friend. Susan has been instrumental in promoting the Neosho Youth Football League and works her tail off every week compiling results and stat packs for the games. She’s an asset to youth athletics in this town, and it’s because of her work that I could rest my head easy at night knowing those results made it in the paper. Meanwhile, Mary went out of her way to make sure I received information for youth wrestling this year, and spent hours tabulating results for me. Thank you, Susan and Mary.
    Page 2 of 3 - I guess I should point out the hardest thing about these types of columns is I could never have enough ink or column inches to mention everyone. I’ve been so lucky to work with such great people. From the front office staff to the pressroom, everyone here at the Daily will forever be a part of my life. I consider them family. I love these people.
    I can’t thank John Ford and Steve Boggs enough for trusting me to steer the ship when I took the wheel after the previous sports editor resigned during Week 4 of the 2012 football season. I can’t thank Todd Higdon enough (thanks again, Todd) for guiding an NHS senior sitting at his table on career day in 2004, to a job that I still absolutely love. I can’t thank Cody Thorn enough for all he’s done to help me throughout my career — same with Anvil Welch, Craig Hull, Jim Henry, Carol Stark, John Ford, John Hacker, Rick Rogers, Al Bonner, Wendell Redden, Boggs and so many others.
    There are a lot of things I’m going to miss when I walk out of these doors for the final time. I’ll miss the interesting conversations that liberated from the front office on a daily basis. I’ll miss the Cardinals/Royals beef and daily “Tombstone” references Todd and I exchanged. I’ll miss John Ford’s hilarious YouTube videos and stirring laugh. I’ll miss daily chats with Bill Lyttle, Darcy Denmark, Mike Reese, Garret Piersol, Judy Green, Doug Allard, Sarah Bentrup, Robin Burtis, Mary Friend, Nina Carnagey, Dave Horvath and Karen Stark. I’ll no longer have to keep wishing for Whitney Saporito, Wes Franklin and Derek Storrs to come back, but I’ll continue to miss them. I’ll miss Steve Wood’s awesome photography.
    As hard as it is to leave my friends, I must say I’m just as excited and thankful for the opportunity I’ve been given to advance my career at The Globe. My wife and I appreciate the well wishes and support we’ve received from everyone these past couple of weeks. The folks here at the Daily have also been very understanding and supportive. I thank you all.
    Most importantly, I want to thank the readers for supporting me and supporting local newspapers. Covering every sport at five high schools, a college, and keeping up with youth sports all at the same time as a one-man sports crew is certainly no easy chore. But, knowing you’re still out there reading every day is what drives me to put my best effort into every edition. That will continue at my next stop, so I hope you keep reading.
    Page 3 of 3 - I also want to thank all of the coaches, athletes, officials, fellow journalists, school faculty and administrators I’ve had the pleasure of working with these past two years. I’ll still be seeing and talking to all of you in the coming seasons. Also, to everyone who offered a helping hand during the Neosho Holiday Classic … I could never repay you.
    I wish I had more room to mention everyone. If you don’t see your name, please know that you’re not forgotten.
    I’ll see you down the road.

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