Saturday I rode into town in a U-Haul - it's amazing how much stuff one can accumulate in just a few years time - ready to start a new phase in my life in Newton County.
Being a product of small-town Mississippi, I didn't exactly relish driving through Atlanta with a 17-foot trailer lagging behind, but I made it with surprisingly little trauma and no lasting physical damage.
I've enjoyed my first week here in Covington and Newton County. It reminds me a little of home and a little of a foreign land, but that's all part of the fun of relocating.
A few things I've gotten to do my first week here in Georgia: I got to see my first Georgia snow storm (that was exciting), I attended my first ribbon cutting in Covington and I attended the Newton Chamber Annual Meeting.
Busy for a first week, I'd say.
So a little about me before I moved to Georgia...
I was born in Mobile, Ala., on April 25, 1980 - only kidding, I'm not going to go that far back. This isn't my autobiography. I grew up in Amory, Miss., not far outside of Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis Presley - a fact that folks in Tupelo are beyond excited about. I grew up in a house with three sisters. My father and I were outnumbered to say the least, but we've all remained close over the years even now that we're all scattered across the Southeast.
I graduated from Mississippi State University - I know the other Bulldogs - and started my newspaper career in October of 2002 as a sports writer for my hometown newspaper.
After about a year there, I moved to the Birmingham area to be the sports editor for a weekly newspaper in the town of Gardendale, Ala. I then tried my hand in the daily newspaper business for a little while as the assistant sports editor in Meridian, Miss.
It was while in Meridian that I was called up to the big time. I was offered a job as the managing editor of my hometown newspaper so I again packed up and went home. I quickly moved up to become the general manager of two weeklies in Monroe County, Miss. (that's where Amory is located).
Spending most of my life in smaller cities and towns has given me insight into what folks in those places want, need and love.
That's why I've always loved community newspapers and what they provide to the residents of a community. No one else covers small town America like community newspapers and no other publication matters to a community as much as its own newspaper.
From local government and education coverage to law enforcement and sports coverage, community newspapers can't be matched by any larger metropolitan publication. What we may lack in size and circulation we more than make up for in heart.
Don't get me wrong - larger publications serve a necessary function, too. We just give you news no one else can give you. How many times has CNN covered a Newton High School basketball game or gone to an event at one of our elementary schools or published engagement announcements for Newton County residents?
I have a long way to go before I know everyone in town, but I look forward to trying to get to know as many folks as possible as quickly as possible. If you ever have any suggestions or want to chat, please give me a call at the newspaper or e-mail me.
Robby Byrd is the editor of The Covington News. He can be reached at rbyrd@covnews.