GOOD MORNING: Journalism that makes me proud

Future Brown
Herald Democrat
Future Brown

Looking back on 2021, the Herald Democrat staff has a lot of stories to be proud of this year. From the day-to-day meetings and COVID-19 coverage to lifestyle and news features to enterprise and investigative reporting, our small news staff has been busy finding unique ways to cover things happening in Texoma. 

For me, this year’s highlights center around telling stories that explain to others what life is really like in the Grayson County area.

That is why some of my favorite stories from this past year have involved social stories and how this area relates to the region and beyond.

Here are the stories I am most proud to have been a part of this year.

1. Celebrating a legacy

In February of this year, an area mortician that I had a lot of experience working with when I did obituaries at the Herald Democrat, celebrated more than 50 years in his industry. Not only that, when he began, it was the youngest funeral chapel owner in the state of Texas.

More:50 years, still going: Black mortician talks industry, says he'll never stop working

But, James Smith is not the only history maker the Herald Democrat got to tell our readers about.

This year, Theatricks founder and director Webster Crocker retired from the Sherman Community Players. This story was special to me because of the legacy of future theater lovers Crocker left behind. The then-director of the theater was one of those young people who also spent time at Theatricks.

More:Closing the curtain: Theatricks director to retire after 3 decades of service to community

And, as for opening the door for future minds, creators, business owners, representation matters. 

For Hispanic Heritage Month, we got to talk to Rita Noel, the first Hispanic person to be elected into office in Grayson County. The Hispanic community is one of the fastest growing demographics in this region and making sure the newspaper is aware of and giving accurate representations of all areas of this region is something we will always strive to do.

More:JP Rita Noel, GC's 1st elected Hispanic person, talks her rise in GC, says more bilingual comm. needed

2. Recognizing the history

One of the biggest and longest running series of stories for this year was following the quest to have a historical marker placed on the Grayson County Courthouse lawn in remembrance of the lynching of George Hughes and the burning of the courthouse.

This one I was personally happy to be a part of because recording history is what a newspaper does. History is not always pretty and those who have come before us did not always intend to be martyrs. But, their involvement in events have lead us to some very uncomfortable, but necessary, conversations that continue today.

As the community debated the historical marker, we investigated so we could have differing opinions represented and recorded is important as the community continues to progress and move forward.

The county received more than 100 pages worth of emails from the community about the marker, and we went through them so we could tell our readers what people actually thought.

More:1930 riot historical marker: What had the public been saying to commissioners?

3. Returning to normal and moving forward

The one year anniversary of the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic came and went in 2021. We are approaching the second anniversary, and it seems like the Grayson County community response has remained the same: We are in this together.

More:Celebrating women: Pandemic heroes push forward

Each month, a new industry made pushes toward returning to normal. From restaurants to schools to manufacturing and local government offices, the process to get back to where we were prior to the pandemic has been an all hands on deck effort.

More:Shaking hands: Sherman, Heritage Ranch agree on 440-acre development

And, it shows.

Most notably, we can see it as the area continues to grow. We have been following the TI expansion plans, incentives and residual future growth. 

More:The TI effect: 54-acre development wants space in South Sherman

Growth in this region will be something that Texas will take notice of as the residential developments, new and old industries and economic resiliency of the region pushes Grayson County into the next level.

More:Clearing 4 hurdles: Breakdown of region's TI incentive packages