By: Paula Walter
When my husband and our family first moved to Johnson County, we didn’t know a single soul, except each other. Everything was new. We didn’t know where to bank, where to shop, and where to get new tires for the car. We eventually wandered into the community and began to meet other people, those who had long called Johnson County home, and those like us that had fallen in love with the mountains and moved into this scenic and beautiful part of the world.
It wasn’t until I started working at The Tomahawk that I truly began to know the people of Johnson County. I had opportunities that I never would have had, people I never would have met if I hadn’t been for working for the newspaper and covered various events around the county. Many of you were so kind when I asked you questions, like what is a paint horse? Why would you paint a horse anyway? What is the thing called that bees are in? Why would you auction chickens? What is a feeder calf? Having come from the Washington, D.C. suburbs, living in the mountains was a whole new world and there was a lot to learn. If you ever laughed at any of ridiculous questions, you never showed it.
I spent time running up and down 421 to Shady Valley when sinkholes appeared and when an over spraying of chemicals began to make people sick. I got to be a soup judge and wandered up and down among the vendors at the Sunflower Festival. I was able to listen to the stories so many of you shared with me, stories of your families, your memories and your loved ones. It’s because of these experiences that I was fortunate to begin to know Johnson Countians and most importantly, to have their trust and their friendships.
Friday will be my last day at The Tomahawk. It’s with mixed emotions that I’ve made the decision to leave. The Tomahawk staff has become my family, and I’m not sure I can exit gracefully without a lot of tears, but it’s time. It’s difficult to even write this article without crying while thinking of all the wonderful memories I have since working with the paper.
Our three sons live about six hours up 81, and we don’t want to miss out on the important events in their lives. We just had a new granddaughter and the thought of not being able to pick up and go see her on a regular basis weighs heavy on my heart. We don’t want to miss out on the important firsts in her life. We have family in Kansas and we would love to be able to see them a lot more often than we do now. My husband and I grew up with grandparents who were active in our lives, and we want our grandchildren to have that same experience.
There are so many of you I am thankful for that I can’t even begin to possibly name you all. I would fill a whole page of all the people here who have touched my life and my heart in a positive way. It’s because of you that I fell in love with the people here, the mountains and the way of life. I have seen the love and support you give each other, your families and friends, and I am in awe of the closeness of this community.
It’s because of you, this community that has made Johnson County home for me.