As I scrolled my electronic calendar into July it dawned on me that we’re halfway through the year. How could that possibly be?

I don’t know who it was that coined the phrase “Time flies when you’re having fun,” but that person obviously had not experienced anything like Spanish flu a century ago or the coronavirus this year.

We can’t be halfway through the year because there hasn’t been a March Madness, a Kentucky Derby or a big high school or college graduation weekend. Shoot, baseball season hasn’t even started. In fact, Tuesday night I got the notice that the Rome Braves’ season had officially been called off.

Somebody pinch me — from an appropriate social distance of course!

Rather than dwell on the bad, let’s call this November in July and offer up some things I’m thankful for halfway through this crazy year.

I’m thankful for a career that I have enjoyed immensely. I owe much of that to one of my best friends in the world, John McClellan in the local district attorney’s office.

John and I went to Auburn at the same time and lived in the same building all four years. He eventually landed in Tifton and I was back in Washington D.C., where things weren’t working out real well. John and I had stayed in touched and during one phone call I told him if he ever heard of anything south of Chattanooga to let me know.

He knew the owner of a radio station in Waycross and hooked us up and the rest, as they say, is history. I would be deeply remiss if I didn’t say I will be eternally grateful to Dave Callaway in Waycross for giving me a chance. We still stay in touch via Facebook and I’ve been able to contribute recently to his Waycross Magazine.

Lesson to young readers. Try not to burn bridges!

After five years, I moved to Columbus and that didn’t work out real well. An owner there promised the world and delivered nothing, so I’m thankful to Mike and Leeta McDougald for rescuing me from that situation. We had a lot of great years together before they sold WRGA.

Early in 2009 I was introduced to Charlotte Atkins, editor of the Rome News-Tribune, who offered me a chance to write instead of talk for a living. The negotiations were rather lengthy but I finally made the switch.

I’ll spare you the details.

It’s been a career where I’ve gotten to meet so many amazing people with so many interesting stories to tell.

So it’s been nearly 37 years in Rome. To try to rattle off a list of things I’ve been thankful for over the last 37 years would fill the whole page, so lets focus on the present.

I’m particularly thankful for our law enforcement agency leaders, Denise Downer-McKinney, Mark Wallace, Troy Brock, Tim Burkhalter and Tim Herrington.

Each of them have come up through the ranks. They are more than familiar with the issues that their “feet on the street” have to deal with because they’ve been there. In this community! They know Rome and Floyd County extremely well and they have displayed collective cool in the face of tough times for public safety personnel.

It was hard to recruit and keep good personnel to begin with, but with the extra scrutiny (to be honest, some of it is good) that is growing every day, it’s got to be brutally difficult to recruit good people.

The media in Rome have enjoyed a TRULY unique relationship with law enforcement. I was at a meeting of the Georgia Association of Newscasters at the Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth years ago that was essentially a cops versus the media debate.

After hearing everyone’s problems, I walked to the microphone, reached into my pocket and pulled out the keys to both the Rome and Floyd County police stations. Then Georgia State Patrol commander Col. Ronnie Bowman’s jaw hit the floor. It wasn’t just me! Each of the local media personnel had keys at that time, to pick up reports 24/7 if necessary.

It’s been well-established that I love being outdoors and there is no place in Georgia that I’d rather be outdoors than our little corner of the world. I’ve written about the rivers and I’ve written about the trails. There is something to be said for quality of life.

Frankly, I think I community needs to do a better job of showcasing it’s natural assets.

I’m thankful for successful First Day and National Trails Day hikes. Mary Hardin Thornton and Julie Smith pulled those off marvelously. Both events are annual events (nationally) that had never been observed in Rome before.

Taken together, they introduced folks to trails at Lock and Dam Park and Garrard Park. Both areas are off Rome’s beaten path but each has a unique beauty — and history — to enrich each of us.

I’m thankful for our medical community, with fine hospitals in Redmond Regional Medical Center and Floyd Medical Center along with the physicians of Harbin Clinic. Opportunities to continue learning abound at Berry College, Shorter University, Georgia Highlands College and Georgia Northwestern Technical College.

Rome is richly blessed in so many ways and we need to remember that during these most trying of times.

Associate Editor and business columnist Doug Walker is always looking for news and tips about area businesses. To contact Doug, email him at or call 706-290-5272.

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