Believer in newspapers

Published 4:15 pm Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How quickly a year passes. This week marks the first anniversary of my weekly column.

For 52 weeks I have been privileged to share my thoughts, good or bad, with the readers in Seminole and now, Decatur counties.

I have always been a believer in newspapers. I argued with my father about who could read the daily paper first until my mother bought a second subscription just for me. Before 24-hour news stations and the Internet, the newspaper was a portal to the world for a boy in a small Alabama town.

I devoured the sports pages, the news, the editorial page and finally the classified ads. It was a love that continues to this day, although I no longer read five papers every day.

It is hard for a weekly or bi-weekly paper to compete with the lightning-fast news coverage around the world today. It is even harder for the daily papers whose news may be old by the time it hits the streets. Technology is changing the manner we get information in ways that could not have been imagined just a decade ago.

However, our area of the state is well served by The Donalsonville News and The Post-Searchlight and a handful of other weekly and bi-weekly papers that serve the needs of the communities we actually live in. The “portal to the world” I had as a child may have changed, but these newspapers let us see the news that is important in our every day lives.

As you read this paper today, think about how much information you would lose if it wasn’t here. Who was born and who died. Whose kid hit a homerun or scored a touchdown. The businesses opening and closing. Our local government and what they are doing, both good and bad.

The events of our lives neatly gathered, packaged and presented to those who care enough to read about it.

Bo McLeod says that I am getting ink in my veins. He’s been around this business for 60 years, so maybe he is right. In the meantime, thanks for your words of encouragement and support over the last year.

America’s backbone

It wasn’t scary to me at how fast the past year passed by until I realized at just how fast the past 25 years have gone. Our company, Ponder Enterprises, celebrated its 25th anniversary a week ago.

I started my first Hardee’s as a way to get out from under the long shadow of my father and grandfather in the peanut business. My brother, Ernest, joined me the second year. My father knew this independence was important and supported us both financially and with great advice.

There have been many ups and downs as there are in any business.

I now know that any success we have had in this competitive business has been because of the incredible people we have working for us. From our top four operations people with a combined 124 years of experience, to the nearly 900 full- and part-time employees of our company, we stand on their shoulders.

This isn’t a plug for my company. It is a salute to all those people who work hard to make a living and never get a pat on the back.

The backbone of America is found in thousands of small businesses all across this land. America’s economy will recover because of people like them, rather than people like me.

Bizarre politics

As a lover of all things political, I admit that this past year has seen some incredible turn of events. There have been so many scandals that I fear we are becoming used to the idea that a politician can say one thing and do another in their personal lives without fear of the public’s outrage.

Gov. Mark Sanford’s explanation about being on the Appalachian Trail, while in fact visiting his mistress in Argentina could give ex-hikers like me a bad name. Surely, his public confessions are a textbook example of how not to apologize to the public or your wife.

All things are not scandalous in politics. Some are just bizarre.

Sarah Palin’s resignation as governor of Alaska after only holding the job for part of one term has to be one of the fastest rise and falls for a politician in American history.

Perhaps she believes she can better run for higher office without having to finish the term, although I suspect that isn’t true. Perhaps she needs the ability to earn more in the private sector to pay off mounting legal bills. Perhaps she is just fed up with the scrutiny and character attacks and wants to return to being a wife and raising her children.

In any case, political life continues to become more brutal at all levels. Continue to pray for real leadership as our state and nation face their many challenges.

Finally, once again I am married to an older woman. Happy Birthday, Mary Lou.