Nearly 16 years ago - Sept. 15, 2003 - I stepped into the Neosho Daily News office as a staff writer. Today, Sept. 7, 2018, will mark my last day at the paper. I have decided to take a different fork in the road sort of speaking and find a new career.

Nearly 16 years ago - Sept. 15, 2003 - I stepped into the Neosho Daily News office as a staff writer. Today, Sept. 7, 2018, will mark my last day at the paper. I have decided to take a different fork in the road sort of speaking and find a new career.

Where to begin. I have always enjoyed writing, even when I was in grade school writing book reports to high school and college researching and writing essays or reports. I guess that sparked my interest to go into journalism back in January 1992 at MSSU. My college path began at Crowder College and was secondary education and received an associates degree in that field (who knows, maybe I will become a teacher).

When I transferred to MSSU, there were not a lot of educational careers in my field in this area, so I went to the journalism's advisor, Richard Masa and right then and there, he saw something in me and told me to take that path. I did and with the help of Chad Stebbins, (MSSU's newspaper The Chart) advisor and teacher, the rest is history. For a couple of semesters, I worked on The Chart as a staff writer, while taking journalism courses. In 1994, I graduated with a bachelor's degree in mass communication with emphasis in print journalism.

I worked at a couple of newspapers for a short time and nearly 10 years later, I got a call from then Daily News managing editor Buzz Ball. He knew of my background and knew I wanted to get back into the journalism field. It didn't take very long, until I accepted the position. It had been awhile since I had wrote anything and with the help and guidance of Buzz and John Ford, then associate editor, and Kay and Russell Hively, contributing writers for the Daily, they helped me a lot. I want to personally thank you all for that.

My first story was covering the Neosho School Board meeting which was on a Monday night. My news beat was education and covering the western part of Newton County. Within a year, I moved to covering the Neosho City Council, police, eastern Newton County and general features.

I am not for sure how many stories I have written over the years - sometimes it was just one story in the paper and sometimes it was the whole front page.

News encompasses all types of stories. I have covered the stories that bring a smile to one's face to ones that bring tears to one's eyes. I thought about this awhile back. Out of all of the years working here, probably the one that will always stick out in my mind is 2007. Typically, January is kind of a "dead month," meaning with school out, not a lot to report on. Well that was not the case in January 2007. It was early in the month, the weather report stated some snow and possible ice coming in. No problem, right - Wrong. Southwest Missouri was blanketed with inches of ice, cutting power lines, making walking on the ground treacherous and hazardous to say the least. Most people in the area were without power for days to weeks. But in this tragedy, the community came together to help one another.

Another event occurred in August of that year. We had a church shooting, where three people were killed. I was the first reporter of any news outlet that was on scene. Dressed in a part of bluejeans and a T-shirt, I started talking to members of the congregation to eyewitnesses. Then, I received a phone call from a number I didn't recognize. Answering the phone, the caller said he was from CNN, heard I was covering the shooting and wanted an update. I thought it was a prank call at first, but it was not, so I answered his questions two times on the phone and then they sent a camera crew from Kansas City to interview me live on CNN.

There were other events that year - it seemed to be one every month - but the last one really will stick with me. In November 2007, a 9-year-old girl from Stella went missing. Her mother and the community started looking, but could not find her. Nearly a week later, law enforcement officers found the girl - Rowan Ford - in a cave in McDonald County. She had been murdered and it was later determined it was by her stepfather and a friend of her stepfather. Every year, I remember Rowan, I had taken her picture one day because she was a student of the month and I was there when they started looking for her and later when they found her, me and other media outlets where on the scene. It still brings tears to my eyes.

If I was to talk about all of the stories I have covered, well I could write a book (that might be on my bucket list). Over the years, my job changed somewhat. Back in 2011, I started to do more pagination, but still reporting on the various stories. In March 2017, I was promoted to managing editor of the Daily News, while still reporting and pagination of the paper.

I want to move onto the Daily News family.

Over the years, I have worked with some amazing people at the Daily. It is to many to list from the past, but I want to thank the current employees. Starting off with the front office, Kathi Gooch, Lauren Busteed and Bethany Langland, you ladies rock and are hard workers. Keep up the hard work and good luck to you all. I will miss you.

To the advertising staff Koni Tyler and Tim Holder, I have seen more advertising in the Daily since you both came on board. Keep up the good work. I will miss you both.

To the press staff: Mike, Gary, Frank, Greg and Garrett, thanks for everything you did. Thanks to you when I had a problem with a page. Good luck to you all in your lives.

To the former publishers and the current publisher, Joe Leong, thanks for allowing me to be a part of the Daily News team.

Finally to the editorial staff Brock Sisney and Lee Ann Murphy. Thank you for all of your hard work. My words of wisdom is this, keep reporting, listen to the people - our readers. Be there for them and write the sports and news. Taking from a bumper sticker that Steve Boggs gave some of us, "Readers, they are the ONLY reason we are here."

Covering the news all of these years, one of the things that I will miss is the people in this community. I have met a lot of people, and have enjoyed everyone. Like the saying from Boggs, YOU are the reason journalists are here. Keep supporting the Daily News through subscriptions to advertising to giving the editorial staff story ideas to placing those garage sales ads. Thank you readers for trusting me and helping me along the way.

My final thanks goes out to my family. My parents - Tom and Gail Higdon are the best. They have always encouraged me and my brother, Greg, to be the best that we can either in school, life or career. They always backed our decisions and I love you both.

To my wife, Tina and our daughter, Lynn. When Tina and I started dating, Lynn was 15 years old. She has grown up so much, has a career she loves and helps us out with the house and our dogs, Jango and Piper.

Tina, oh what I can say about her. She is the love of my life. Over the years we have been together, she has stuck by my side. I told her when we started dating and then when we got married that my career was not an "9-5 job." She told me she would understand because there are times her job is the same. We have covered events together - she would take the photos and I would do the interviews from time to time. Thank you, Tina, I love you and thanks for always supporting me.

When I made the decision to leave the Daily News, I had co-workers ask if we were moving. The answer is NO. I love this community, I have been a part of it for 47 years, growing up in Newtonia, Dad worked at CBT for more than 50 years, he and Mom would shop locally and Tina and I are invested into this community. We have friends here, her job is close and it is a great community.

Once again, I want to thank you all for everything.

From today on, anyone who needs to get in touch with me can do so by email at tadcw1@yahoo.com. Plus, I am on Facebook.

 

 

Todd G. Higdon is the former managing editor at the Neosho Daily News. He can now be reached at tadcw1@yahoo.com or look for him on Facebook.