As I contemplate and refl ect back on 2009 I can only think “Wow! Double Wow! What a year.” It was both exciting and challenging to say the least.

Actually, the last 16 months have been the most bazaar experience I have ever had since I started Up & Coming Weekly 15 years ago.

January marks our 15th year publishing this newspaper. Time flies when you’re having fun and I must admit I have been blessed with a wonderful, wonderful job. I think it was Confucius who said “A man who finds a job he loves will never work another day in his life.” Truer words have never been spoken. Publishing Up & Coming Weekly has been rewarding to me in many ways. Has it made me wealthy? No, not hardly. Has it made me popular or given me elevated status in the community? Doubt it. uac123009001.jpg

Nor has the company ever been profi table enough to wow the suits of Wall Street. However, Up & Coming Weekly has been extremely successful in being a million points of light shining down on the Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and Cumberland County communities illuminating our uniqueness, our southern hospitality and grand quality-of-life. It was for these reasons the newspaper was founded in 1996. Though I have never become monetarily rich the rewards and treasures from serving this community have been overwhelming.

I put my son through college and created dozens of jobs with benefits. My very first editor, Joy Kirkpatrick (at the tender age of 23 ) is now the newspaper’s co-publisher working alongside one of my very first writers, Janice Burton, whose very first assignment was to ride a casino bus to Atlantic City. I don’t think she ever forgave me for that. We saw Cumberland County’s original children’s newspaper Kidsville News! become the nation’s number one educational resource. We’ve located our offices downtown to support and invest in Fayetteville’s dream of revitalizing Fayetteville’s historic downtown. We shut the pump off of a $ 240 million ethanol plant that would have destroyed communities as well as our civic pride. At this same time we alerted Cumberland County Commissioners and officials that $875,000 of taxpayers’ hard earned money was in jeopardy of padding the pockets of scoundrels. This allowed them time to vote against the disbursement.

I could go on and on. I have 15 years of memories.

However, my real reward has been in serving this community by showcasing local news, views, entertainment and arts and cultural venues that make our community and its people so enjoyable, diverse and unique. And this, my friends, could not have been done without you.

Up & Coming Weekly is a “free” community newspaper. You are the reason we have been around for 15 years. Local people, businesses, institutions and organizations have supported us and our mission. It is also your trust and support that will keep us here. So, from me, the staff, our wonderful and talented writers and our dedicated weekly delivery crew we want to say “thank you, thank you, thank you” and wish you a very, very wonderful New Year.

You have our commitment that we will continue to serve the community with the same level of excitement, dedication and enthusiasm you have come to know and expect. Again, thanks for the fi rst 15 years. Keep your eyes and ears open for an invitation to our anniversary party coming soon to a community near you.

God Bless.

P.S. You don’t have to wait until Wednesday morning to pick up a copy of U&CW. Subscribe to the FREE V.I.P. online edition delivered to your home Tuesday afternoon at www.upandcomingweekly.com.

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