By ELTON SLUSSER
Times West Virginian
FAIRMONT, W.Va. — I recently attended an open house at the Times West Virginian to meet and welcome Julie Fox, the new publisher.
She was impressively personable and easy to converse with. After welcoming her to our area, I endeavored to describe to her our neck of the woods and our Mountaineer spirit.
As a part of my narrative, I said that we are ordinary people, and what you see is what you get. She immediately took exception to my saying that we are ordinary people around here. She said that we are the friendliest people that she has ever encountered. She further stated that this makes us far from ordinary.
After leaving the open house, I pondered her statement and compliment. We often forget what a gift and blessing that friendliness can be. We locals take for granted the treasure of friendliness. Having family and friends who live in or near a large city, I have listened to them telling of extended shopping experiences where they saw no one that they knew. They passed hundreds of people without anyone speaking to them or even smiling at them.
One of our local area blessings lies in the fact that often while out in the public for many reasons, we may speak and smile to more people who we do not know than to friends whom we do know. Many times I ask my wife, “Who was that who spoke and smiled at us?” Often her answer is that she has no idea.
I suppose that I stand corrected in describing us as ordinary in comparison to today’s average population. Our area and state are often put down for our supposed ignorance, socioeconomic standing, etc., but West Virginians know the truth about our state and people, and fully realize the privilege of living here among the mountains of home.
The virtues of our community and state go far beyond friendliness. The new publisher will learn to know us as a people who help people in need. Whether offering flat tire assistance to a driver in distress or assisting an elderly shopper or pedestrian — we offer countless neighborly actions to those in need.
In general, we are always looking for ways to be helpful as well as friendly. Our new publisher will learn that we often look to our local newspaper for leadership in any emergency need, whether small or large.
After talking with her for a short period of time, I think she will look forward to being a part of any community assistance needed. Being born, raised, and always living locally, I wondered how the meeting and personal opinions of this new publisher would be.
After reading her resume of work and leadership that consisted of residing in large cities, I was prepared to meet a person who would need to adapt to our way of life and thinking. To my great surprise, she was an excited promoter of our area already. I thought of ways and words of description that would describe her to the readers of this column. Fancy or large words will not correctly convey my initial meeting and impression. I suppose the best way to express my first impressions is simply to state that she seemed like one of us already.
So, to Julie Fox, the new publisher of the Times West Virginian, I once more say welcome. We want you to feel at home. You are officially adopted as a friend, community leader and Mountaineer. We hope we will prove easy to work with and, above all, easy to share our diverse abilities in service to all. You have proven to be one of the friends that we had not yet met.
May your time with us be a time of mutual respect and personal fulfillment. You are now one of us, so let’s get started.
See more from the Times West Virginian