Yes, today — I exit stage left!

Teddy Paynter

I remember the first day I arrived here at the Medical Leader on Nov. 26, 2007.

Then Public Relations Director Keith Bridges and longtime-friend and co-worker Josh Ball took me around and introduced me to other members of the staff.

Much has happened since those early days when the newspaper was seeking a new direction. I’m proud to say I’ve been a major factor in its development.

An old-school reporter taking on a challenge of bringing “good news” to then the people of Pike County. Later reaching out to Floyd, Letcher and Mingo. It grew into even more.

The internet is changing the face of how we receive our news. Sadly, it’s becoming the downfall of print media.

For a guy who has been involved in newspaper for 43 years I haven’t let change — change me.

I love and care for the student athletes and the people of our region. I’ve made so many friends over the past 11 years doing it the only way I know how — giving my heart and soul to each edition.

From the very first game I covered in August of 1975 as a reporter in Logan, W.Va., to this past weekend’s softball game between Shelby Valley and Pikeville on the new turf at Myers Fields, it’s been a beautiful ride.

Is it over? I hope and pray it’s not.

But one thing is certain — this chapter closes the book on the Medical Leader. Today’s edition is our last.

The staff could have just packed it in and said let’s just fill it with stories from the past. But we didn’t. We made this edition like all the others. We gave you one more week of “good news.”

See old sports guys like me are like coaches — the love for what we do runs much deeper than what you see on the outside. It burns inside; It drives you; It’s a part of you that it hard to leave behind; It possesses you; It controls you; It places such a big burden on your family.

My wife, Lisa, has been my biggest fan and supporter. She has sacrificed so much to allow me to continue my life-long dream. Together, we have given up more than anyone will ever know. She is my rock.

I want to thank you the coaches, fans, players, families and people from all across the region for allowing me to share your stories.

I want to wish the best to my co-workers — Abigail Gibson, Ellen Blackburn, Stacey Walters, April Coleman and Jordan Compton. Your dedication was first class. Ellen and I have both been on a long path together, going back to our days in Williamson, W.Va.

To the extended family in public relations — Carol Casebolt, Amanda Jo Lawson, Melinda Goodson, Kathy Atkins, Amy Charles and Katie Ray — carry the torch high.

The list goes on with Mike Patrick, Amy Dean, Tiffany Grimm and Patty Thompson. Thank you for your support.

I couldn’t end without thanking God. He blessed me with a talent a long time ago and I took it and ran with it.

Yes, today — I exit stage left!