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Greenville simply feels good

Good morning! What follows is purely person from a guy who lays no claim to being a great writer. There will be no attempt to dazzle you with fancy words or glowing rhetoric here today, but I do look forward to visiting with you regularly in this space each week.

I just want you to know how pleased Julie, Grant and I are to be moving to your town, how excited we are at the prospects of becoming actively involved in your community and how we look forward to helping you make this place an even better one.

Truth be known, I'm surprised to be here.

Surprised and delighted.

We were comfortable in Cullman, living there nearly 10 years and assuming it might be our home forever. Then, a casual conversation turned into an opportunity and the chance to rejoin folks like Dennis Palmer and Todd Carpenter in the very newspaper company that was my original professional home became a reality.

Know quickly that we are here by choice.

Like many Alabamians, we have known Greenville for decades. Sort of, anyway. It's reputation for being a lunch stop at Bates House of Turkey en route to or from the beach is legendary. When Cambrian Ridge became home to one of the now famous Robert Trent Jones Trail golf courses, it's stature as a destination spot was solidified. And as the view of Greenville High School - little did we know it was the back of the facility — attracted Interstate 65 viewers, a sense of &#8220something is happening there” became real.

So we had a head start on our homework.

The exploration, compiled through several weekend trips and dozens of personal inquiries, only made it better.

Good things have happened here. Even brighter things seem certain for the future.

It's impossible, for starters, not to appreciate the Southern charm and deeply rooted cultures. There is an antebellum beauty to the place, one enhanced by picturesque homes, dotted with historic insignias and scattered throughout the area, one personified by the dripping sounds of a marvelously spoken drawl, one punctuated by the slow and steady pace of everyday life.

And what lover of Small town, America wouldn't be enchanted with a striking downtown of deep heritage, a district of wonderful church facilities, a tribute to the preservation efforts of dedicated citizens bracketed by remarkable buildings known to you as the Butler County Courthouse and the chamber of commerce headquarters at Depot Square.

Add to that glorious glance back the stability of blue chip manufacturing centers, the excitement of economic activities under way, the potential of controlled growth that could border on the positively explosive nature and the enthusiasm of community leaders and it creates a unique combination difficult to ignore.

Even more impressive is the area's reputation.

No one we asked said anything negative. They pointed to a can-do attitude. Virtually everyone praised the genuineness and friendliness of the people. They pointed to the envious location, near a metropolitan area and the beach, but far enough away to enjoy its own identity, its own personality, its own high quality of life.

So we're eager to join you.

We look forward to watching the Eagles and the Tigers play whatever sports are in season. We want to sit alongside you at festive events in the Ritz Theater, to worship with you, to enjoy happy times or, when necessary, share sad ones. We want to see you at chamber and community functions and to participate in worthy causes like the United Fund and Relay for Life.

Soon, there may even be a chance to attend a meeting, join a club, share a meal or hit a golf ball and along the way, we hope to make a small contribution or two.

Julie, a native of Natchez, Miss., and I, a Tuscaloosa boy, love small towns. We are committed to community journalism, refrigerator-journalism, if you will. And we believe the role of a good newspaper, much like a mirror, is to reflect the activities, events and people of this area, calling them to your attention as we write the first draft of history.

We have much respect for The Advocate, for the Stanley and Hardin families so instrumental in its past, for the Boone organization so dedicated to its present and future and we will work hard to honor both.

There will be no promises of major changes today. It is a good newspaper, served by bright, talented professionals who care about this area. We do ask that you help us make it even better and there is a commitment to listen carefully to your suggestions and ideas as we seek to meet your needs

Having the chance to visit as many of you as possible, to work with you and to earn your respect professionally and your friendship personally is both a challenge and an opportunity that excites us.

Let me know how we can be of service.

Ed Darling is President and Publisher of Greenville Newspapers, LLC.

He has been in the newspaper business since age 12. He can be reached by phone at 383-3111, or by email at: ed.darling@greenville.advocate.com.