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Stretched too thin, too often

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By Vince Luecke

Our company has long given employees the day off for their birthdays. This year I was given that and a second gift: the care of of a second newspaper.

Since June 1, our editorial staff here at The Perry County News has been working with and overseeing the staff of The Journal-Democrat in Rockport. How has it been going? The past two weeks have been a challenge. There have been more meetings to cover, added telephone calls and dozens of extra e-mails to sort through each day. I feel more stretched than usual.

A friend asked me last week how things were going. She has three young kids and I used this analogy.

“It would be like you moving to your neighbors' house and agreeing to care for her house, spouse, kids, etc. And you had to keep up the duties at your house.”

Grumbling is a therapy of sorts for me. It's not been all hardship. I live in Spencer County by about a mile and I know the county well, including public officials.

I've been able to catch up with people I don't see often. The two counties have much in common and face a lot of the same challenges. A lot of the headlines are similar.

One of the challenges I gave my bosses here before agreeing to shoulder the extra duties was that it not affect this newspaper. And while there have been stories I would have had time to write had I and our staff not had the extra chores to shoulder, I think we're doing a good job so far. I hope the arrangement is temporary, but we'll keep plugging away. I just hope I don't get the two counties mixed up in my stories.

But I hope the hours do shorten a little as putting out three newspapers a week instead of two becomes a little more routine during the time I'm the editor of two newspapers.

I'd like to publicly thank my staff, Managing Editor Kevin Koelling, Sports Editor Larry Goffinet and Feature Writer Janet Robb for their help, as well as Marilyn Cail Hubert and Debbie Miller in our composition department for their help pitching in every day.

I and our staffs are no strangers to hard work but the extra hours take their toll. Despite being stretched thin, I haven't been able to exercise and my pants are tighter than usual. I  haven't been eating healthy food, either.

All this needs to change or I'll be found some morning slumped over my desk and someone will inherit a job that will stretch them thin.

My house in New Boston already felt like a large motel room, but now it's truly a flophouse. I sleep and occasionally watch a little TV  and wash clothes there, but that's about it.

I used to daydream about having an old jolly housekeeper, an Aunt Bee-type from Andy Griffith's place, who would welcome me home each evening with a glass of lemonade and a slice of pie. I would never make Aunt Bee cut my grass, but she could watch over a neighbor kid who'd do the job while she fixed supper.

I'm home so little my Aunt Bee would have quit out of loneliness, moved in with the neighbors down the street or took up drinking at the tavern in town.

Speaking of my lawn, the rainy summer has kept my grass growing so fast I've not been able to keep up. I've not been able to tend to my lawn as well as I had hoped. It's not been a jungle, but it doesn't have the cared-for look like the lawns next door.

I've wondered how heavily the previous owner fertilized the lawn since I've never seen grass grow so quickly. I'm not praying for a drought, but I'd like for the rain to slow.

Thanks to my New Boston neighbor Harry Lindauer for surprising me with a volunteer mowing a couple of weeks ago. I came home to find my tall grass nicely mowed.

I'd been trying to mow for a week, but the evenings and weekends I had free were either raining or the lawn was already too wet to be mowed. Harry was pictured in The News recently after I saw him at a Memorial Day service. One photo isn't worth two hours on a lawn mower, but if anyone wants to mow my lawn in return for a photo, let me know.

Just kidding.