When February rolls around this winter, and the coats are getting heavier and the days a little shorter, our little beach paper will be celebrating its 10th birthday.
In some ways, that astounds me. It only seems like yesterday when Susan Lyons and I were sitting at her kitchen table kicking around names for the paper and deciding how many people we wanted to hire — and how we were going to decide on who could help us the most. Susan has said a million times, “People make the paper,” and we knew that this was especially vital at that point in time.
We needed people who could not only perform the tasks of their “position,” but would also willingly and ably jump in wherever needed and serve as good ambassadors to the public for our fledgling operation. We mixed and matched, had a few bumps along the road, and eventually got a staff together that helped get us off the ground and establish ourselves in this amazing community.
I remember one young woman we interviewed shortly after we started publishing the Point, and I vividly recall having a few doubts in my mind. She was pregnant, and told us right from the start that she would be having her child in about a month and would then need to go on maternity leave. To say I was concerned would be an understatement.
But Susan knew this young lady for years, and emphatically backed her as someone who would be able to help our then-part-time office manager, and would be willing to jump in wherever and whenever she was needed. “She’s smart and will do anything we ask,” Susan said. “She’s a good girl.”
She’s a great girl, actually.
That young lady was Monica Scott, known as “Monica Fleming” at that time. She did jump right in and help with whatever needed done, and she even helped out with designing some ads as was necessary. Eventually, Monica approached me one day, saying that she always had an interest in writing and wondered if she could give it a shot. She wrote a feature for us, and it was pretty good. We went over what she needed to work on, and she came back with another feature story, this one more solid than the last.
The Coastal Point and Monica have grown together over the years. Monica now has two beautiful daughters, and wrote a series of stories that shined a bright light on the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), ultimately resulting in several key DelDOT employees losing their jobs over the controversy and the Route 113 bypass project grinding to a halt. If you are a newer reader of the Point, you might have noticed her stories on the happenings at Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary or the dangers of lyme disease in the community.
She has had a very real impact on this area through her efforts as a reporter and has spent about nine years of her life helping us grow and establish legitimacy.
And she has also become a treasured friend of mine.
Monica’s professional life is now going in a different direction, and she has left the Point to concentrate on her studies to prepare for her next career. She is a private person, by nature, so I won’t go into what she is doing next, but rest assured she is going into a selfless field that will provide help to others, and, hopefully, free up more of her nights so she can spend more time with her daughters.
And that’s just who she is.
A bunch of us went to dinner Saturday night to properly say farewell to Monica, and simultaneously welcome our old friend Ryan Saxton back from a year spent in Australia. While I was kind of observing the smiling group, I realized how much of an impact she has made on our younger reporters, and how her legacy at the Point will go on through their own efforts and hard work. I also took stock of how sad I was feeling inside that Monica was actually leaving us.
There were things I wanted to tell her as we were saying goodbye in the parking lot, but I just couldn’t muster the words at the time. Truth be told, I still can’t.
I’ll just thank her here for her hard work and friendship, and letting us get to know those two little girls. Thanks, Monica. You are one in a million, even if you aren’t a farmer ...
But I digress.