For the longest time, residents of the communities I cover have been asking me when I'm going to leave the weekly newspaper business for a daily paper.
I've always taken such comments as profound compliments. I always assumed that those readers felt I was good at this profession I've chosen and didn't simply desire to run me out of town.
Just over a week from today, however, their well-wishes will become a reality as I have accepted a position as the county government and political reporter with a south central Florida daily.
This, then, is good-bye.
I must say that in my just over five-and-a-half years at Anton Community Newspapers I've learned much about community, about democracy, about neighborliness, and, frankly, about life.
I can still vividly remember the first civic association meeting I ever attended. Up until then, my first week on the job here, I lived, as many do, believing Long Island was where you slept between stints of working in Manhattan.
I never really thought too much about the force that shaped the local sliver of world I lived in. I knew, for instance, that Westbury had a mayor, but imagine my surprise when I discovered that he'd lived just around the corner from me for almost a decade!
But that civic association meeting I referred to a moment ago changed the way I viewed hometown life -- regular people, my neighbors, actually turned out on a regular basis to discuss, and hopefully influence, events unfolding around them.
People, in short, cared.
My first visit to village hall was, again, an eye-opening experience. The big controversy that night was a property on Post Avenue that had, as a tenant, a dirt-sifting operation. The sifting machines were creating a horrendously loud noise and spreading dust over a considerable portion of the surrounding residential neighborhood.
I marveled in a way that perhaps I shouldn't have -- being, already 31 years of age -- at the spectacle of local taxpayers bringing their beef to village hall.
I marveled too at the uncommon decency of the property owner, who stepped forward from the back of the room and calmly vowed to set the situation right.
Over the years, I've worn a great many hats here at Anton Community Newspaper. As of this writing, I co-edit three of our papers, The Westbury Times, The Three Village Times, and the Floral Park Dispatch, with Beth Vallianos.
The common thread, however, has been the decency and vitality of local "small town" life.
There are many people I will fondly remember, though I fear that if I begin to mention names, I will surely leave out a few.
I would like to extend a special thank you to my publisher, Karl V. Anton and to the three page designer who have made my work look so good for so many years.
To Mr. Anton I owe a debt of gratitude that I know I can never repay. Not only did he entrust to me three of his newspapers, not only did he allow me almost complete editorial freedom, but he also afforded me the opportunity to expand my horizons into radio and television.
Without Mr. Anton, frankly, I would never have had the opportunity that now awaits me on Florida's "Treasure Coast."
For a number of years now, Lucia D'Onofrio, Barbara Holubar, and Donna Rinaldi have had the sometimes thankless task of taking my words and photographs and trying to make something presentable out of them.
Many times, it's not what you say, but how you present it that makes all the difference in the world, and so to a large extent, I feel, whatever impact I've been able to have on this community is due to them.
Again, good-bye... and thank you for the opportunity to serve you in this public forum.
Daniel J. McCue