If memories were all I sang, I’d rather drive a truck.

— Rick Nelson

I was initially going to write an ode to this building at 126 North Washington that we’re about to relinquish to the city of Albany, but I thought I’d save that for another time ... if I write it at all. Sometimes it’s better to let things go and just move on.

But I will say that I remember the day we moved into the old Rosenberg’s Building some 33-plus years ago. I vividly recall Terry Lewis (rest in peace, my old compadre) and I carrying our computer terminals from the cramped quarters we shared with then Herald Sports Editor Paul McCorvey (you as well, good sir) in our old office on Pine Avenue to the roomier quarters.

The place was a lot different then, the walls newly painted, new carpet, sparkling divider sectionals between the desks. It was also a lot more crowded, a news staff of some 30-40 people — some of them among the most excellent journalists I’ve ever encountered in my 40-plus years in this business. As we close out this era of The Albany Herald’s history, I think back on some of those names — Fuller, Braswell, Gray, Maschke, Hendricks, Carter, Mills, Stalvey, Strickland, Johnson, Shelton, Robinson, Levine ... way too many to name — and how each influenced me.

Given all I’ve been through in this roller-coaster of a business and of a life, I’m proud to be, along with Bill Strickland and Phil Cody, the last ones standing who will have both opened and closed the doors to this place for a first and last time. May the legacy live on.

Now, to get to some clarification business that should, frankly, have been taken care of before now. But, as someone once said, “I’ve just been too damned busy.”

There are a number of locally produced features that have long appeared regularly in The Herald that have been MIA in recent days: i.e. coverage of Lee County and Leesburg government meetings, the daily police blotter, the community and coming up calendars and a few others. I’ve heard from those of you who have asked about them, but I thought resolution would take place by the time I put together an adequate response.

How many times have I said this ... I was wrong.

The truth of the matter is recent staff turnover and plans to drastically change the way we cover news in the community has left us short, personnelwise, for the time being. We have made what we think is the best use of our assets while we go through the process of adding staff and restructuring. I daresay our local coverage would have come up lacking had it not been for various community and part-time journalists who’ve pitched in to help out. I appreciate that help and assure readers we’ll make quick decisions on staffing in the very near future and bring back the features that we feel are important to the community and our readers.

Before it gets lost in the shuffle and the Christmas/Hannukah rush takes over, it would be remiss not to offer a special salute and bid Godspeed to a man who has given so much of himself to this community. Phil Roberson is retiring soon, and I think City Manager Sharon Subadan would agree with me when I say very very few people have had the kind of positive impact on this community that Roberson has had the past four-plus decades.

He started working for the city before he even got out of high school and transitioned into a permanent position when he graduated. He worked his way up the ranks to become head of Public Works, perhaps the most important department of the city that does not involve first responders — although not even law enforcement officers responded to emergencies in the city faster than Roberson — and after flirting with retirement once before, he was named assistant city manager, where he flourished.

Although he’ll say he’s not interested in attention being focused on him, certainly the city will honor Roberson before he rides off into the sunset. Anyone who’s worked with him over the years will agree that it’s a tribute well-deserved. New Assistant City Manager Kenneth Stock comes with impressive credentials, but he should know coming in that he’s got some huge shoes to fill.

Email Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcher@albanyherald.com.

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