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Pity Party — By Tommy Purser

Bear with me as I engage in a pity party in this space.
I am happy to put 2022 in my rear view mirror. It was not the best 12 months of my 75 years, both personally and as the owner of this small town newspaper.
I lost a lot of friends in 2022. People who have been a part of my life for almost a half century. People I considered friends. People with whom I’ve spent countless hours of happy times.
I can’t adequately express the void that so fills my heart with the passing of Sidney Johnson, who saw to the health and well-being — both physically and personally — of me and my family, especially my three children whom he nurtured into adulthood.
Ray Wooten always, always made me smile. His laugh was infectious. I hurt knowing I will never hear that laugh again.
I deeply, deeply regret never again being able to bask in the glow of Buddy Spann’s trademark squinty-eyed grin. Or learn from his voluminous knowledge acquired during his decades of service to the City of Hazlehurst and its citizens. He was truly our community’s “Mr. Mayor.”
I join hundreds …. if not thousands …. of people who mourn the loss of Lonnie Waters’ engaging warmth and generosity.
I worked closely for eight years with Blan Williams during my time on the Hazlehurst City Council. I marveled at his intelligence, his wealth of knowledge about the city’s water and sewer system. He was a behind-the-scenes worker whose dedication to his job benefited thousands of Jeff Davis County citizens, in and outside the city limits.
I’m going to miss the smiling face of Buck Herndon who always warmed my heart every time our paths cross.
I’ll no longer be blessed to marvel in the witty intelligence and engaging warmth of my friend James Crump.
In the rare occasions I crossed paths with Cecil Morris, my spirits were so uplifted by his smile and his genuine, humble grace.
I regret that I will never again hear the good wife’s joyful exchanges with Geraldine Cue as she came to the Ledger office to bring Thornton Funeral Home’s obituaries for us to publish to enlighten the public about the recent passings of so very many people.
And, oh, how I’ll miss Miss Margie, one of my most faithful readers for many, many years. When my work load burdened me in such a way that I could not share my thoughts with readers through my personal column in the Ledger, no one so missed my words than did Miss Margie. She made me feel so very appreciated.
On a less personal note, 2022 has been devastating for this newspaper that has served Jeff Davis County for well over a century. I feel invaded by a wave of new business owners who put down roots here with little to no appreciation for the newspaper that has served this community faithfully, the last almost-50 years with me as editor. They throw their loyalty instead to the Internet, using social media rather than the newspaper to advertise their businesses.
I see elected officials oblivious to the value of communicating with the people they serve. At times, they seem almost obsessed with secrecy, disappearing behind closed doors with alarming frequency, shutting off the public from their right to know how their elected officials are conducting the people’s business.
And it pains me that, at times, I feel an open hostility from public officials toward my newspaper …. and toward me personally.
Yes, 2022 was a tough year for me. But I look forward to a brighter 2023 ….. I hope.

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