As the winds of change have swept through the offices of the Jefferson Post over the past 18 years, there has been one piece of its foundation that has remained solid, our Assistant Editor Linda Burchette.
It is with a heavy heart that I report to our valued readers that Linda is leaving the Post.
She has taken a position with the Smyth County News & Messenger in Marion, Va., as a staff writer.
She is going home.
Working out of her small office at the Post over these last 18 years, she has witnessed and offered to our readers through her words a weekly accounting of the history of Ashe County.
And she has done it with an enduring love and passion for its people.
In many ways, the news business is like no other. We operate in a reality where we are intimately involved with the important events, issues and people of the day, but for the most part, remain professionally objective. We attempt each week to offer our readers a dispassionate view of the communities in which we work and live.
But like it or not, even as journalists, we all have our small causes, and Linda is no exception.
For Linda, it’s the lesser creatures in the world for which she has the softest spot in her heart.
For all of those who know Linda, her love and passion for offering care to abandoned and abused pets is well known.
Striking a balance between using our sometimes limited news space with local news and running the local pets up for adoption has been an ongoing source of humor at the Post.
“Linda…do we really need to run all 10 of those humane society pets up for adoption”? I ask.
“Well…yes,” she would say with a smile.
There was also the email Linda forwarded to me of the awful conditions at a turkey farm that had been secretly recorded with the plea…”we must do something on this.”
And while the lesser creatures are dear to her heart, she also witnessed and reported on several of Ashe County’s most sensational news stories over the last 18 years.
She was profoundly affected by the infamous Hudler Christmas Tree Farm murders.
When describing the tough task of interviewing the victim’s relatives, you can still hear and see, as her voice cracks and her eyes mist, as she recounts the anguish and pain she witnessed by those whose loved one’s lives were violently cut short by what can only be described as senseless violence.
She practically beamed when describing the Ashe County visit by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and N.C. Governor Jim Hunt when the New River was designated an American Heritage River.
And it was with a worrying sigh when she described writing about the numerous manufacturing plant closings that have impacted the county and its people over the last decade; still concerned there is more to come.
Outside of work, Linda has been an active community member.
She has served on the Christmas in July Festival Committee for nearly a decade and the Advisory Boards for the N.C. Cooperative Extension Office and 4-H. And she has served on the Ashe County Revitalization Board and the Local Emergency Planning Committee.
Those activities demonstrated her commitment to making Ashe County a better place to live and work.
While Linda would probably never describe herself as this, she became an Ashe County institution. Filling the hole of that lost institutional knowledge will be difficult. Nonetheless, we will continue to endeavor, knowing she is only a phone call away.
Linda, on behalf of the people of Ashe County and those you will leave behind at the Post, thank you. You will be missed.