Saying goodbye never easy

Published 1:19 pm Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I graduated from Escambia County High School in 2001. Two months later, I moved to Columbia, Mo., to study journalism at the University of Missouri and, like most 18-year-olds, I couldn’t wait to leave my hometown.

That was 12 years ago, and now I am once again facing the task of saying goodbye to Atmore. In 2001, I was a bright-eyed kid who thought I’d never look back; today, I’m a bit older and keenly aware of how much I am going to miss our wonderful town when I start a new job at The Andalusia Star-News next week.

Here at The Advance, we routinely get to speak with visitors and new members of the Atmore community, including some of the people we bring in to work here. It is absolutely amazing, and a credit to all of you, that, almost without exception, they comment on how people in Atmore may be the nicest folks they have ever met. I can attest to that characterization. Atmore, as well as The Atmore Advance, has played a huge role in my life thus far. Not only did I grow up here, but I got my first chance to do newspaper work right here at this paper when I was in high school. In fact, the first front-page story I ever wrote was for this paper when I was a teenager and Vanity Fair closed its doors.

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When a close family member of mine passed away suddenly and I took some time off from college, Atmore, as well as The Advance, welcomed me back once again. Most recently, when my I accepted a job here three years ago, you all welcomed me home, and made my wife, Stephanie, and our daughter, Sawyer, feel as if they were coming home as well.

In that time, I have been reminded time and again what makes this community so special. It is all of you. It has been an honor to serve you here and I hope you have enjoyed reading our newspaper as much as I have enjoyed being a part of it. Changes have come, but I have no doubt the team here at The Advance will do a stellar job in their efforts to inform, entertain and represent you and the community’s interests. And we’ll be keeping tabs. Not only is the Star-News part of the same company as The Advance, but it is also where the paper is printed each week. So, we’ll be watching.

Atmore has a bright future ahead of it. It is a unique place with so much to offer and I have no doubt the town’s leadership will be working tirelessly to capitalize on that potential. I want to say thank you to them for their efforts and cooperation with us. I also want to thank all of you, once again.  Thank you for making it so easy for us to come back home again, and so hard for us to leave now.

Blake Bell is the news editor of The Atmore Advance. You can email him at