I’m here for many reasons, a few of them selfish. Stability defines my adult life, but in recent months, I decided I needed a change. Citizen owner/publisher Lee Stubbs offered me a chance to come back to where my career started 14 years ago, and I opted to leave my job at the St. Joseph News-Press for a fresh start. Feels good to be back home. This marks my third job of any kind during the past 17 years, starting with a stint at Leo’s Country Mart to make spending money in my Platte County High School days. There’s a good chance some of you remember me from those days. I might have helped you locate the mayonnaise (Aisle 1, just past produce, bottom shelf on the left-hand side), offered you a smile and polite conversation while scanning your items or helped you load your bags into the car. Tips were always appreciated. But I decided journalism would be my calling. I’ve always enjoyed sports but never possessed the athletic ability to succeed in them, so I decided following them would be the way to go. Lee Stubbs offered me that first opportunity, starting with the 2000 Class 3A state championship football game between Platte County and Salem at then-TWA Dome in St. Louis. I gathered quotes from players, coaches, friends, family, fans. I put a lot of work into the project, eager to impress. The laid out paper dummy with my contribution to a two-page spread sits in the back of The Citizen office. Nov. 29, 2000 — my whole career dates back to that point. Since then, I moved on to run The Griffon News, student publication at Missouri Western State University, for two and one-half years. I started working part time at the News-Press in February of 2003. My career there flourished with plenty of help along the way, and I went on to stints as reporter, assistant editor and editor in the sports department during 11-plus years of service. Over time, I started to resent the non-negotiable late-night hours, and Lee found me at the right time, extending a chance to alter my lifestyle while staying in the business I love. I’m married now, just celebrating the three-year anniversary with my wife Krystle last week. We have a son, Cale, who just turned nine months old. I wanted more time with them; I wanted to raise him in a trusted community with a school district known for student excellence; I wanted to come home. So maybe I can call the choice a bit selfish with the best of intentions? I’m here now, and I’m ready to work for all of the communities in our circulation area. That’s where the selfishness stops. I came here to do a job, and I take a lot of pride in my work — I believe in the value of journalism. I’m blessed to have this opportunity. There’s no doubt this is the right time to make this move, and I couldn’t be more excited to begin this new venture. So much changed in the nine years since I moved to St. Joseph; I have much to learn, and in some cases relearn. The Citizen moved into a new office, although it’s still located just a jaunt away from Wells Bank thanks to that institution’s newest branch. Leo’s no longer exists, the recognizable orange building where I met my future wife is now home to Hillcrest Thrift Shop. What I knew as Platte County High School only accounts for half of its current form, now adjoined to the place I knew as Platte County Middle School for grades 5 through 8. Names, faces and places have changed. With much of my family still in the area, I know the heart of this region, especially Platte City, didn’t change much. Call me selfish, but I’m really looking forward to reacquainting myself with familiar surroundings.
Ross Martin is managing editor of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Citizen_Ross.