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We’ve adapted to serve you, our community

What a difference a year makes.

In February 2020, I was knee-deep in preparations to ride in my first New Orleans Mardi Gras parade, making sure my costume and throws were all in order for the big day, and looking ahead to a niece’s Leap Year wedding on Feb. 29.

A year later I’m knee deep in packing boxes and bubble wrap, looking forward to reuniting with my dogs and settling into our new-to-us home in Brookhaven.

And in between was that little thing we’ve simply named “2020.”

Last February, few of us imagined that the virus circulating in China and the West Coast would soon upend our lives, quickly morphing into a global pandemic; killing millions of people; shutting down schools and businesses; and making phrases like “social distancing” a part of our vocabulary.

But COVID-19 did all that, and more. In the media publishing business, like many others across the country, we learned to adapt to the changing environments. Many of us reduced print publication days for our newspapers, expanded our digital delivery of news and information and developed creative solutions to helping our local businesses survive the challenges of COVID.

We did something else, as well: We served and continued to build our communities — carrying on our most important role.

Here in Brookhaven and Lincoln County, that role has been crucial to making sure our readers and community have been informed about the spread of the virus; helping local restaurants, retailers and service providers not just survive but thrive in a challenging year; and chronicling the history of our people and our community as we lived through a year fraught with politics and pandemics.

We learned much along the way, including better ways to deliver information across digital and social platforms; how to tap into new tools and services to provide that news and marketing information; and, for anyone who questioned, just how important a newspaper and its services continue to be in keeping a community informed and engaged in the 21st Century.

We’re nearly 40 days into 2021 now, and we’re moving ahead together with optimism. There won’t be any Mardi Gras parades this year — although the Brookhaven Chamber has a creative and fun adaptation planned for its annual event — and my son’s upcoming wedding will be scaled back and planned with “social distancing” still in mind. But, a much-awaited vaccine offers the hope of returning to “normal” and the opportunity to gather again for events, from weddings to arts festivals. Politics still loom on the horizon. But the campaigns are local, with critical city races on the ballots, and we’ll be using video and digital platforms to make sure the Brookhaven community has a chance to meet and learn about each of the candidates for office.

And, we’ll continue to be source of the community’s forum — a trusted place to learn and share information; a resource to help businesses grow and thrive; a cheerleader when needed, a voice of caution and concern when warranted, and a chronicler of our lives here in Brookhaven and Lincoln County.

After all, a lot can happen in a year.

Stacy G. Graning is general manager of The Daily Leader. Contact her at stacy.graning@dailyleader.com.