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Scarlett, Elvis and Businessperson of the Year

By Walter Geiger Thirty years ago last month this gorgeous girl came in and applied for a job at The Herald Gazette at our old office on Market Street. She was recommended by her husband, a man I hold in high regard and who worked just down the street. I took a long look at her. Then I took another long look at her. Then I thought to myself well there is no way in the world Laura is going to hire her. But she did and the lovely lass was stationed behind the front counter to greet customers. Suddenly foot traffic at the office tripled. Young men from the hinterlands of southeast Redbone, northwest Patillo and even Possum Trot Road began arriving at the office. A lot of them couldn’t even read but they came by every week to buy a paper. Some forgot they had already been in, dropped by and bought a second copy they couldn’t decipher. Circulation soared. The lass learned fast and excelled at every task given her. We soon found out she had two equally lovely sisters and a beautiful mama who loved Elvis. Her family became part of our family. We watched as her young daughters grew into beautiful young ladies in their own rights. Her Daddy is nice enough looking but I think the girls got their looks from their Mama and street smarts and toughness from their Dad. It turned out our perennial 29-year-old was kin to just about everybody in the county. If she wasn’t kin, she knew somebody who was. She is an excellent proofreader and I cannot tell you how many times she has corrected funeral directors and even family members of the deceased on the spelling of names in obituaries. The lovely lass is smart as a whip. Some years back, I spent a month in the hospital and a month or so on either side of that month at home sick. Laura spent a lot of time out of work caring for me. Any thoughts I ever had about my irreplaceability vanished. The lass and the people she had largely trained jumped in and got the job done. I would be lost without them but they proved they can survive without me. It turns out the lass has a keen sense of what is right and what is wrong. Most every time I have written something or published a photo that drew criticism I did so against her advice yet she never said ‘˜I told you so’. She does have a little glare that gets the message across though. We see our work as a community service. In our eyes, we provide the mirror this community can gaze into and get a glimpse of itself as others see us good or bad. The lass is perfect for this. She is an humble public servant. Often the ink on our pages is mixed with tears. Sometimes they are tears of joy. Sometimes they are tears of sorrow. The lass is, in large part, the conscience of our office – our strong tie to Barnesville’s past. Next month Laura and I will have been here 38 years yet we still occasionally get called newcomers. The lass never gets that. She is Lamar County born and bred and proud of it. She also has a keen ability too for making snap decisions under pressure and making them correctly ‘“ what some people would refer to as effective crisis management. A few years back, while sitting at my desk, I opened a letter filled with white powder. I called Brad White to ask if I should be worried. The next thing I knew the street in front of our office was cordoned off. Anthrax was suspected. We were banished to the hot asphalt parking lot. Not one but two hazmat teams arrived. Very stern people with weapons and sophisticated sensors started testing the air. Braving possible poisoning, Chris Webster brought his wife Tasha and the rest of us water. The time outside stretched to one hour, then two then three and, inevitably, the urge to go to the restroom arose. Being a hunter, I had toilet paper in my Jeep. We offered to arrange vehicles around our dumpster to screen off an area for the females to utilize for their needs. I could tell immediately the lass did not like this plan at all. She looked just like Scarlett O’Hara with her nose upturned. ’Let me see your hands,’ she demanded. After examining them, she said, ‘I don’t see anything wrong with you so I am going inside to the bathroom and I don’t care what they say.’ She marched inside and the others followed her. Chris and I just shrugged. Soon firefighters from Macon set up a screen in the street and explained to us that, if anthrax was indeed detected, we would strip naked behind that screen, get washed down by a fire hose and then get carted off to the Macon Medical Center. The lass was having no part of that. Virginia Slims stock went up 10%. She paced. She fumed. ’I may die but I am not taking off my clothes and getting sprayed by a fire hose in the middle of the street,’ she repeated over and over again. And, I am sure she would have won that battle no matter how fierce it turned out to be. Thankfully, the powder was baking soda and no street showers were required. The lass has that same kind of fierceness in her adherence to her Christian faith and values. She loves her home family and her work family unconditionally. Now the youngest and prettiest grandmother on the planet, she dotes on her two grandsons. If she sets her mind on something, it will get done and it will get done properly. She is the heart and soul of The Herald Gazette. She could have gone anywhere and done anything, including running a Fortune 500 company but thank God she stayed with us at your community newspaper and has spent 30 years plus building up the place she has always called home. We love the lass! Her name is Missy Ware, general manager of The Herald Gazette. I am so very proud to present her to you as Barnesville-Lamar County’s Businessperson of the Year. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette and made these remarks while introducing Missy Ware at the Community Awards Banquet on Jan. 28.

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