Over the last four years, I’ve had the unique opportunity to bring you hundreds of stories about local news, sports and community events in Platte County as a contributor to this newspaper. It has been a one-of-a-kind experience to see our community in a different light; the good things as well as the bad things.
As someone who grew up here, it also gave me a chance to revisit the places, people and experiences which make up a big part of who I am. In the fast-paced world we live in, it seems like few take time to reflect on those important influences.
As a kid, I first wanted to be a professional athlete when I grew up, then a coach. If those didn’t work out or if I had time later, being a reporter or broadcaster was next on the list. As you can imagine, those plans evolved into different aspirations over the years, but working for The Citizen allowed me to fulfill at least one of those early childhood dreams.
Having just earned my bachelor’s degree in business and real estate, I realized 2009 was not an ideal time to be looking for a job, much less in an industry so directly affected by the poor economic conditions. Considering different options, I sent a letter to Citizen editor Lee Stubbs inquiring about possible opportunities in what amounted to a shot in the dark. I mentioned the potential in southern Platte County and the lack of news coverage, particularly of the schools, which I knew were a strong fabric of our community. I still have the letter; it changed my life because expanding south was something The Citizen was also considering at the same time. The rest is history as I began covering regular assignments.
Shortly thereafter, a career in commercial real estate presented itself, but because reporting had already enthralled me, it was too fun to give up if I didn’t have to. There was a certain thrill in delivering the news, whether it was important coverage of local government or simply a high school sports team. I’ve often told people that covering this community was always the real motivation behind my work; it wouldn’t have been the same anywhere else. Platte County has been home to my family for eight generations and, like many, I’ve always been proud to call it home. From one end of the County to the other, I believe you can find a wide swath of America represented in a variety of different ways.
As many of you know, the Park Hill School District has been a main focus of mine over the years, both as a reporter as well as a volunteer and alum. This, and a desire to actively contribute to the District’s future, led me to recently run for the School Board, which I was successful in being elected to last week. With that in mind, I’ll be entering a new role in our community going forward, and want to thank you for reading my work over the last four years.
I also want to thank Lee Stubbs and The Citizen staff for the opportunity. They’re professionals who work hard each week to bring you the highest quality news they can. They are truly a community-oriented newspaper. With so many unnoticed, but positive contributions happening across this County all the time, not being able to highlight each of them is my only regret.
In the broad scope of things, four years may not seem very long, but depth and quality of experience can sometimes make up for a lot where longevity of years lacks. In that regard, I hope to use the skills and experiences I gained as a reporter to contribute in a different way.
While I won’t be writing the news affecting our community anymore, I’m excited to positively influence the content of those stories going forward by serving the people of the Park Hill School District.Because he was elected last week to the Park Hill School Board, Matt Pepper is a former — for now, anyway — Citizen staff writer. We thank him for his contributions over the years — he will be missed. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MattPepper1.