As a child I remember frequently making trips in the backseat of my parents’ car up U.S. 52 to Pilot Mountain State Park, where we would hike and picnic and have a grand time. You see, I lived in Winston-Salem through the end of elementary school, so Pilot Mountain visits were a quick afternoon trip we could make on a Saturday or Sunday.
We even traveled at night one time to the mountain to watch through a telescope the passing of Halley’s Comet in 1986.
In all my journeys to Pilot Mountain, never did I think I would be living just outside the shadow of the mountain north of a small quaint town aptly named for the mountain that rises so nearby. But here I am.
To my duties at The Mount Airy News as a staff reporter, in 2004, was added to title of editor of The Pilot newspaper. And for the past 11 years as I’ve transferred to The Stokes News as editor, back to The News as associate editor and now to The Tribune and The Yadkin Ripple as editor, I’ve carried the title of editor of The Pilot along with me.
This week will be the first edition of The Pilot that I’ve not edited in those 11 years, with the exception of a vacation week here or there.
Many of those 11 years I’ve covered the happenings of the town of Pilot Mountain government, school events, community events and helped shared the news of the communities surrounding the town with The Pilot’s loyal, dedicated readers.
And while I still live in the community and will remain here, my son goes to preschool at First United Methodist Church Preschool, my husband grew up and works in the community, my in-laws attend church at Sulphur Springs Baptist Church and are active members of Ararat-Longhill Ruritan Club, my job duties are again changing, and with that change comes the end of my tenure as editor of The Pilot.
It is an emotional change for me, with so much of my career wrapped around the area, and it is now my home, something that has changed frequently throughout my life since my father is a minister and we moved around every eight or 10 years. I’ve lived in Surry County now longer than I’ve lived anywhere else — 14 years.
For the past three years I’ve been a member of the Pilot Mountain Civic Club, and have been president of that organization for just more than a year. I will remain part of the civic club and in my role of president until the end of 2015.
I’m leaving The Pilot in solid, capable hands though. Staff reporter Diane Blakemore, who lives downtown, is a working member of the community, operating her own massage therapy business. She recently handed over the Walk Pilot Tours to the town’s Tourism Development Authority, of which she is a member.
She and her daughter are involved in Girl Scouts and frequent the Charles Stone Memorial Library. She is president of the Pilot Mountain Area Business Association.
Since I hired her in November of 2014, Diane has learned a whole lot about covering government, writing and sharing the community’s stories and being a point of contact for those looking to share information with the public.
Diane is also staff reporter for The Weekly Independent of Rural Hall, one of our sister papers in the region.
She carries dedicated office hours at The Pilot, corner of Main and Depot streets, Monday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. She also is in the office much of the time during the week unless she is out doing interviews or covering stories. She can be reached at 336-368-2222 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And Dean Palmer is always around the area picking up news for The Pilot.
This is not a column to say goodbye, but instead to say “See you around town” and to let you know that I will miss being part of the weekly role of The Pilot.
Wendy Byerly Wood is the editor of The Tribune and The Yadkin Ripple. She may be reached at email@example.com, 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.