Some observations from the past few weeks:
Kudos to Steve Halter and the Greater Poplar Bluff Area Chamber of Commerce staff and board for a great job with your annual banquet on Jan. 26.
A record crowd of 530 came out to celebrate another year of growth and prosperity for area businesses. I joked with Steve after the event at the Black River Coliseum the reason for the record was because the DAR had two tables full of employees at this year’s event. I’m told it’s the most ever to attend from the newspaper.
Why? Because the Chamber is an important part of our business community, and the business community is an important part of what the newspaper does on a daily basis. It’s our job to help businesses be successful with our diverse advertising campaigns.
Former Missouri Speaker of the House Todd Richardson was honored as the Chamber’s Citizen of the Year. I’ve not had the pleasure to meet Todd yet, but listening to him made it easy to understand why he was selected.
After Todd finished, I leaned over to a spouse of one of our employees and said, “He may end up as governor some day.” He’s a gifted speaker who appears to be grounded with good Southeast Missouri values.
If you didn’t attend this year’s banquet, you’ll get another chance next January. It’s an enjoyable evening.
RAIDERS’ NEW HOME
If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit the new Libla Family Sports Complex at Three Rivers College, you need to make time and do so. You won’t be disappointed.
The new home for the successful men’s and women’s basketball programs is impressive. The best two-year college arenas — before seeing TRC’s new facility — I’ve ever seen are at Hutchison, Kan., and Vincennes University in Indiana.
TRC President Wes Payne did a great job of making Saturday a huge celebration. There were tours, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and then the women’s and men’s teams had games that night. The atmosphere rivaled some D-I programs I’ve had the chance to cover.
I’ve not had the opportunity to meet TRC men’s coach Gene Bess, but even this outsider knows a basketball legend when I see one (Hey, I’m from Indiana). The man’s back and right hand may still be sore from all the handshakes and pats on the back from former players and fans.
Anyone who has coached for 49 years at one school — with his success — is in the conversation as the best ever.
The DAR’s new website — darnews.com — is now six weeks into its new format and I can report some huge successes so far.
Through Wednesday of this week, we’ve had 225,237 total pageviews. That’s an average of 7,508 per day. The numbers have really increased the past couple of weeks as more people have become aware of what we’re doing. Those numbers will greatly increase over the next few weeks and months.
The newsroom is working hard to get into a routine of updating the website throughout the day, meaning you’ll have fresh information to read. It’s like publishing a paper with new information every couple of hours.
I know some have taken to Facebook to criticize us for not allowing our stories to be free on the website. The frustration is understandable, but we hope they realize it takes money to produce a newspaper. Without revenue, there are no more stories.
The newspaper is a business just like all the other businesses in our community. We are taken for granted sometimes and thought of as a free service.
Thank you all for reading the DAR.