By BOB BILLETER
I'm Sad To Say, This Is Goodbye
This is my swan song. I have sold The Democrat to the people who own the Grafton and Buckhannon newspapers, four Value Guides in the north central area of the state and many newspapers across the country. They will, I believe, continue many of the traditions of this newspaper.
I came to Weston a quarter of a century ago and purchased the house I am living in now on E. 4th Street. I vowed then and I repeat the vow: “I intend to live HERE until I die.” I was born in the state, educated here and worked here until I was almost 30 years old. Like most of you, I love the state and would have preferred not to leave but I had a family and I wasn't making enough money to provide for them properly.
I've enjoyed life better since I returned home. I know my experience is one that thousands of West Virginians have had. And many of the people who are living in the state have left but became so unhappy that they returned or came back after they retired in another state.
I expected the economy in our area to improve some when I moved here. Actually it has gone the other way. However, I still believe that things will get better eventually. I try to be optimistic. It is always better, I think, to talk with someone who looks forward with some excitement rather than with someone who is a prophet of doom.
I have probably upset some of our readers with criticisms of some Democratic politicians but political attitudes started changing after I bought the paper and they have continued to change. I changed with the change. I saw the trend early and agreed with it.
If I have offended some readers I am sorry. I thought it was more honest to stand for my true beliefs that to support things because it would be the smart thing to do, as we say. I never put making money as my top goal at the paper. I was determined to tell the truth as I saw it. Unfortunately human beings have many points of view on the issues of the day.
I still believe and fervently hope that we will get things turned around one day soon in our beloved state and that there will be a huge rush of natives and former residents returning.
I am gong to repeat a couple of things I have said a number of times. We have more freedom here in the hills than most people have in other areas. I have lived in a number of other states and I firmly believe this. The country people, especially, have tremendous freedom. They live on the ridges and up the hollows and they enjoy independence that is rare in our country today.
This is one of the things that makes West Virginians different. And it is one of the things that makes the people who leave the state and move to a big city in another state unhappy. Being able to enjoy the freedom that we have here is the main thing that makes us who we are.
If I make it to Heaven I hope that there is an area there that is much like the Mountain State. There would be hills, plenty of uninhabited space, acres of trees and wooded areas, plenty of squirrels, rabbits and other wild creatures. And there would, of course, be West Virginians living on the ridges and up the hollows. I am sorry to say that I'm not sure I would be perfectly happy if this wasn't the situation there.
My wife, Eileen, and I are tired. We have worked 52 weeks a year for the past 12 or 13 years. It's nobody's fault but our own that we did this. We should have trained a couple of our people to do our jobs and have taken vacations. We blew it.
For years, on Mondays my wife went into the paper at about 7 a.m., took food to eat and worked until midnight or 1 or 1:30 the next morning. Such a schedule will convince most people to retire.
We thank all of you for the support you have given us and the newspaper. It is that support that has kept us going. I hope and pray that you will support the new publishers and that this paper, which is 149 years old, will be here serving this county for another 149 years. Montani, semper, liberi.