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Sharing stories is top priority

There are times when I make the effort to make my regular column topical, discussing issues currently being addressed in the Black Belt. Then, there are times, when diverting from that effort are called for. Such is the case this week.

Producing a newspaper each day is a challenge like none other. Each morning, you start from a blank sheet of paper — or in our case anywhere from 12 to 20 blank sheets of paper. And it is our job to fill those pages up with stories, photos and information to the best of our abilities and ahead of that unforgiving nightly deadline.

Our first job — and our only job — is to serve the communities in our coverage area. Our job is to tell the stories that we believe have the biggest impact on the lives of our readers and to tell the stories that need to be told.

In recent weeks, I have been so impressed with the work of everyone, with the stories they have been able to tell, the information they have been able to share and the lives they have been able to affect.

Just this week, a story one of our reporters has continued to cover — the story of Queen Jackson and her battle against the Selma Water Company and her inability to pay a more than $2,000 water bill — resolved itself when an anonymous donor paid off Queen’s water bill, allowing her water service to be restored.

The larger issue has yet to be resolved though and that is the apparent lack of an adequate appellate process for those who believe their water bill is incorrect and that an error has been made. But, we’ll get to that in the coming weeks.

I also wanted to take a moment to congratulate members of the Times-Journal staff whose work was honored by the members of the Alabama Press Association this weekend during the association’s annual summer convention in Orange Beach.

The total number of the awards earned by members of the staff or former members of our staff is already impressive and there are more to be announced. A full list will be published Tuesday.

We are not perfect and we at times make mistakes, but trust me when I say we do try, we do work hard and we do enjoy the calls from those who let us know our errors. It would be worse if no one called at all.

In serving our communities, we need our readers, our neighbors to participate in the process and let us know when events are taking place or stories need to be told.

Thanks again to all of those who work so hard each day to produce, print and deliver this newspaper daily and congratulations to all of you for the awards earned.

And, to our readers, thank you for your patronage and your partnership. It is truly our honor and pleasure.