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Reflecting on time at EAGLE

For over 35 years, I have spent the majority of my life within the confines of The Oxford EAGLE buildings. We all seem to get comfortable in our workplace environment and feel as though the people we work with are our family.

Beginning May 15, I will start a new chapter in my life, as I will step down as publisher of the EAGLE. I can’t thank Boone Newspapers and especially my group manager, Kevin Cooper, enough for allowing me the opportunity to remain as publisher after the paper was purchased May 1, 2014, from the Vasilyev and Phillips families.

I started at the EAGLE like many other kids, selling papers on the street and later getting a bike route. Oxford was still a small city then and it was much easier to get around with far less students. Even when baseball took up so much of my summer months, I always had a job at the EAGLE.

I worked with my Dad for so many years that I knew I had “ink in my blood” from a young age. I remember Dad working all night on Tuesdays since the EAGLE came out on Wednesday mornings when it was a weekly. He would come home early in the mornings to cook breakfast for his three boys. Little did I realize, all night sessions are all too familiar at the paper, especially in the pressroom.

I don’t think anyone can appreciate what a deadline means and the stress it involves until you work at a daily paper. There are advertising, news, classified, photos, and sports deadlines and then it all has to be put together on a daily basis. You are always working a week ahead and months in advance when there are special sections. Very rarely does someone call to say thanks for something that was in the paper.

I have worked in every area of the paper except writing hard news. This involved spending my summer months developing at least five or six rolls of film a day during my high school years. I have taken photos, sold ads, and worked in the circulation department for seven years and the pressroom for two. I have inserted and rolled more papers than I can imagine.  There is nothing like crawling up in the back of an 18-wheeler in the sweltering summer heat to unload a paper truck.

I remember the snow days especially, as I was always one of the few with four-wheel drive vehicles and I had to pick up enough employees to make sure that we got the paper out for the day.  I remember in the old days when it snowed and Miss Nina would make her famous snow ice cream.

During all of these years, the relationships that were formed with the employees made the hard work and long hours worth it. I have seen so many people come and go and have only wanted the best for them even when it put the rest of the employees in tough situations.

I always believed that if you were going to spend that much time at your work environment, you needed to try and laugh and have some fun.

During my time at the EAGLE, I have also watched employees and members of their families lose their fight against cancer or some other illness. The EAGLE employees always seemed to rally around each other during these situations and were always willing to step in and help. I have always believed that I wasn’t everyone’s boss, but we all worked together to produce the best paper possible.

This column will be in two parts as there is no way I can put into one piece how much a place like the EAGLE has meant to me over the years. After all, it has been my home.

Tim Phillips is publisher of The Oxford EAGLE. Contact him at tim.phillips@oxfordeagle.com.