I thought I loved Junction City before I became editor of the Daily Union, but in the past week since the news of my promotion broke, the outpouring of support has been humbling and incredibly appreciated.

Now, I want to start, right here, with these words, living up to that support.

Before I do, I’d like to just take a second to thank Alix Kunkle for his support and always believing in me. Without him and Lisa Seiser before him, I wouldn’t be in this position now.

They both impressed upon me the importance of community involvement. I’ve tried my best over the past week or so to meet with as many prominent community members as I can. The usual newspaper editor stuff — the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, the City Manager, City and County Commissioners — and it’s all been great. They’re all great people, and I’m happy to work with them. 

But what I’m really interested and passionate about, is meeting with you. The real people who make up the ever-changing face of Junction City and Geary County.

This is a very unique and diverse part of the world, and it’s full of unique and diverse stories no one has ever heard. 

Under my leadership, the editorial side of this paper is going to hit the streets, find those stories and find the best ways to tell them.

We’ll still report all the news you’re used to, from City and County, the Chamber, the police, the fires, the mill levy rates, the schools, the sports — but we want to meet you. 

We want to know your story. You might not think it’s anything special, but you never know. Mary Kellerman, the beautifully strong woman I wrote about in last Saturday’s paper (and will write more about next week) didn’t think she had a special story.

Everyone is their own worst critic. But with the right storyteller, almost anyone or anything can be made captivating.

And along with my staff — Michael Sellman and Lydia Kautz — I believe we can tell stories that are worth telling here in our area.

And if you haven’t met Michael and Lydia — or me, for that matter — you should.

If you see us out on the streets or at community events, don’t hesitate to come say hi. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can ask us, and we’ll give you a card for a free two-week subscription. Try us out. See how you like the Daily Union now. If you don’t like it --— even if it’s just something small, let me know. We’re here to serve you — the public, and it’s my mission to provide you with the best news coverage and most amazing stories you can find.

We’ve already started. Our #JCStong series has been well-received throughout the community, and we’re always taking suggestions for stories about people who have persevered against the odds.

 Theodore Roosevelt is my all-time favorite president. I have a bobblehead of him in my office and his picture on the wall at home. Not only is he my favorite president, but he also is attributed to one of the best quotes I’ve read in my life.

“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

He’s right. And covering Junction City is exactly that. It’s work worth doing.

So I will. For as long as I’m here in Junction City, I’ll be pleased to work hard at work worth doing, paying back the appreciation that has been shown to me in my time here.


DEREK SMITH is the Editor of the Junction City Daily Union.

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