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Saying good-bye no easy task

In 1958 Charles R. Jacobs moved his wife and three sons to Brookhaven to take over the ownership of the Leader-Times. Since he was not a Mississippian by birth, it was not an easy move to start a new life in the Deep South in those tense days. There were ups and downs, but it was a decision he and my mother never regretted. It is a decision I am personally very thankful they made.

     They invested every penny they had with a hope to make a go in their newly adopted state. He wrote in his very first column … “we are convinced [Brookhaven] is the kind of city in which we want to raise our family … it is our plan to spend the rest of our lives here in Brookhaven, and we hope in time you will come to like us as well as we like you.”

     Time showed that you did.

     In 1980 Amy and I moved to Brookhaven with the same goal. My wonderful wife, a brave newlywed far from her home state of Tennessee and her family in Dyersburg, adopted this community as her own. The community opened its arms to welcome us. She responded by jumping into community projects to make her own mark, by making a home, and raising our two wonderful daughters – Ann Kirk and Meredith, who are now off to law school and architectural school, but who also proudly call Brookhaven their home.

     Like my parents, Amy and I have had our ups and downs – such is the life of a community newspaper publisher. Stepping on toes is the result of being fair and factual.

     Today, almost to the day that Dad wrote that first column in 1958, I am writing the final one as the Jacobs family ends a 51-year ownership of a 129-year-old Mississippi institution. We announced today the purchase of our newspaper properties by a longtime family friend, James Boone and his associates at Boone Newspapers Inc. of Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Natchez, Miss. Boone Newspapers owns 44 daily and weekly newspapers across the country, with the Natchez Democrat in Natchez the nearest.

      I am very honored and proud they have chosen to include The DAILY LEADER and our other newspaper properties as one of their own, and I believe our staff, our readers and advertising partners will agree. Boone’s philosophy of dedication and commitment to the communities for which they publish equals that of my family’s own philosophy of the responsibilities of a community newspaper publisher.

     Boone’s financial commitment to Brookhaven and Lincoln County says a lot about our community and their belief of the economic vitality of our area. It also says a lot about their belief in community journalism in the changing media world.

     They see a bright future, as do we, but I see their ability to better adapt to the changing world of newspapering. This will ensure our community a much more vibrant media company in the years ahead. One that Southwest Mississippi deserves.

     Today’s announcement does not come without a lot of prayer, soul searching, reflection and emotion. There has been much reflection on the successes as well as the nonsuccesses of the 32 years I have been here, as well as my mother and father’s years.

     This community has been kind in its patience for a young editor and publisher to experiment and do what he thought was best. Like my parents before me, Amy and I have tried to help make our area better and stronger to allow it to live up to its name as the Homeseeker’s Paradise.

     Without the support of our advertising partners and our loyal subscribers and readers there would be not be a DAILY LEADER. We thank each and every one of you for allowing us to be part of the community’s history and heritage.

     The DAILY LEADER’s success these so many years has one common thread – our staff. It is their efforts and dedication that allow us to produce the newspaper each day. Without them there would not be a DAILY LEADER or a dailyleader.com, for they are the heart and soul of this newspaper. So it is with heavy heart that Amy and I say good-bye to them.

     But while the Jacobs name will no longer be on the masthead, Amy and I plan to do just as my parents did and continue to live here and be an active part of the community that has been so good to us.

     So, thank you, everyone, thank you for allowing the Jacobs family to publish the LEADER for the past 51 years and as Dad pinned in that first column on December 1, 1958 thanks for, “… coming to like us.”

     Bill Jacobs served as publisher of The DAILY LEADER from 1995 until Friday.