Sherwood Bland our pressroom foreman just poked his head in my office and exclaimed, “You replaced Roselee … already?”
Well, yes — although replace is perhaps not the correct word. Let’s say follow, instead. After all, no one person can truly replace another. Each brings something different to whatever space they’re trying to fill.
And in this case, we lost a lot with Roselee Papandrea’s departure after five years here as a reporter, but we’re very fortunate indeed to hire someone who brings quite a bit to the job himself.
Quite a bit.
My longtime friend and colleague Steve Huffman is back at the Times-News after an absence of about 20 years. Since then, he’s covered just about anything imaginable for the Winston-Salem Journal, High Point Enterprise, Salisbury Post and Lexington Dispatch. When he wasn’t reporting full time he was freelancing his work for a variety of newspapers, including the Greensboro News and Record.
We couldn’t ask for a better writer with more experience to fill a critical position vacated by one of our top performers.
In fact, we’re damned lucky to have him.
Steve and his wife Meg moved back to the area about two years ago. Since then, they have been restoring a home and property on a lake in the Elon area. Steve mulled retirement but found that he missed writing too much to stay away. A couple of months ago he said if we had an opening in the future, he might be interested.
I don’t think either of us had any inkling at the time that my spouse would be leaving for a writing position in the Elon University campus communications department.
Things have a funny way of working sometimes.
Steve, a Burlington native who graduated from Cummings before earning his college degree at Appalachian State University, has won a slew of North Carolina Press Association Awards for writing everything from breaking news and features to columns. He will cover police news, breaking news and cover the city of Mebane for the Times-News.
His first day? Well, now. Today he attended a funeral for a long-retired law enforcement officer who was interim sheriff after John Stockard died. He’ll file a story about it for our Tuesday edition.
“I think I can help the paper,” Steve told me when we began to discuss his possible return. “But as far as replacing Roselee goes … you’ll have a helluva time replacing her.”
I think, though, bringing Steve back is a very good start.