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Stick a fork in it…We#039;re done

This Friday night there will be a little soiree for Greenville Newspapers employees. It will be a chance to relax, unwind and celebrate what is the BIG event of our year

the annual Horizons' issue.

Horizons is our mega' issue, the one that takes a look at many of the people and the places that make Greenville and its neighboring communities so very special.

There's a lot of work that goes into every issue of a newspaper, but Horizons requires hundreds of man (and woman) hours making phone calls, conducting interviews, designing ads, taking photos, writing rough drafts, editing and proofing, laying out pages, et al. (Gee, no wonder we all look a little rough around the edges…)

Over the many weeks of preparation we've had bouts with nasty viruses, the flu, various chronic illnesses, a sprained ankle and pneumonia

not to mention the infamous bete noire' of the modern newspaper biz, the crashing computer.

Yep, we've been knocked down and laid up, but we're still standing (or hopping, in some cases).

Of course, we, the editorial and advertising staffs, couldn't do it without you, the readers and advertisers. This is my opportunity to once again say "thank you" to all those who shared their stories, their homes, their time and their hearts with me for Horizons articles.

Mary Braden of the Parks and Recreation Department was completely blind-sided one afternoon when I showed up with pad, pen, camera and a smile and pulled off a "This Is Your Life" interview. Dear Mary was awfully good-natured and helpful about the whole thing

but then,that's the kind of person she is.

As Miss' Bobbie Gamble will tell you, Braden, the city's senior services director, is one of Greenville's unsung heroes. The senior citizens of our community truly do have a steadfast friend and vocal advocate in Mary.

Miss Bobbie is the one that put the bug in my ear' concerning Mary. She also helped me come up with a new angle on an old favorite in the Camellia City (featured in our "Enjoying" section), the Ritz Theatre.

If you haven't discovered the wonderful new reception and conference rooms now completed and ready for use under the marquee'

what are you waiting for? We have a marvelous city auditorium that is the envy of many larger towns…and it just keeps getting better.

Before the recent performance of Funny Girl' over 60 out-of-town theater patrons enjoyed a wonderful pre-production supper catered by the talented Jill Stallworth

right there at the Ritz. Last weekend, the Sasanqua Garden Club held a very successful slide show, reception and book signing, all under the marquee' of the Ritz. Out of town visitors ooh'ed and aah'ed over the place.

Many thanks to Miss Bobbie and the Greenville Area Arts Council and kudos to all those hard working, creative and generous people who saved a decrepit old movie house and, over these 20 years, transformed it into a beautiful and practical showplace for our town.

Janis Odom shared with me the wonderful history of Ellafair' for our Harvesting' section. The farm itself has been in her family for nearly 200 years and half-a-dozen generations have lived in the charming 1898 farmhouse she and June Bell have so carefully restored.

There is a magical quality to Ellafair (named for Odom's beloved grandmother) that is hard to capture on film, canvas or in words. I hope, in some small way, to have done justice to this lovely place and the people that have cherished it over the generations.

Thank you, Janis, for your graciousness and hospitality

not to mention, the very best cup of tea I do believe I've ever had. (Helpful hint, folks: A cup of tea's always better served in a pretty china cup from a real teapot in a real southern lady's country kitchen.)

Last but not least, many thanks to Caroline Poole Ryan and her family members for helping me with the story about the Pooles for our "Living" section. Their long history in Butler and Lowndes Counties is a fascinating one. The opportunity to actually handle and read letters written over a century and a half ago was a particular thrill for this history buff.

Miss Caroline, who provided me with a wealth of background material for the story, told me she'd try and get together a couple of' family members for a photo (Keep in mind, I had given her only a few hours' notice after Plan "A" fell through).

Well, what do you know

Pooles were soon arriving left and right, well over a dozen in all, encompassing three generations. Way to go, Miss Caroline (I've always said we southern women can be most persuasive…)

So thanks to one and all who helped with Horizons…and keep those great story ideas coming our way. Enjoy!