You have been released. Those words are the most beautiful words my ears have heard in a very long time. I have not been in prison, but it sure seems like it. Those words were from the Gasconade County Health Department.
After four years of college and five years selling ads at the Hannibal Courier-Post, I returned to work at the Gasconade County Republican in June of 1987.
Before now I had missed one day of work due to sickness. I remember that day well. I had the stomach flu. Enough said.
I have taken other days off and have been absent from the printing of the paper due to various reasons.
I remember missing my first printing of the paper to be present at my little sister’s wedding in North Carolina in November 1993.
One of our three children was born on a Tuesday.
In 2001 Connie and I packed up the family in our Plymouth Grand Voyager and traveled to Orlando, Fla. to take our children to Walt Disney World.
In 2004 and again in 2007 I was absent for two weeks as I traveled with our sons and the Boy Scouts to New Mexico for hiking and camping at Philmont High Adventure Scout Ranch.
In 2008 we flew to Mexico for six days with our three children to celebrate Jacob’s graduation from high school.
When our middle son Ethan graduated in 2010 we took the family on a cruise out of Jacksonville, Fla.
In 2011 we visited California — without the boys — for the National Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships. We stayed and toured in San Jose, San Francisco and Yosemite national park.
We made a return trip to Walt Disney World to celebrate Abby’s graduation in 2014.
Every one of those days off was planned for months in advance.
On Wednesday, Feb. 10, one of our employees at the Owensville office called with unwelcome news. They tested positive for COVID-19. We went into drastic action, sent everyone home and disinfected the office as best we could.
By Sunday I had started getting chills. On Tuesday we had everyone in the office tested. The news was not good. Connie and I tested positive along with five other employees — including two part-time staffers who help get the paper out each Wednesday — at the Owensville office.
My symptoms were limited to a fever — which included night sweats — and coughing. Connie’s was less.
With the help of high-speed Internet and an application called Dropbox, I have been working on my computer from my kitchen table for almost two weeks. Because of call forwarding, I have been able to answer the phone as if I was still at the office.
I have never had cabin fever before. This forced confinement was awful.
To put out a newspaper takes teamwork from several professionals every week. My employees went above and beyond the call for the last two newspapers.
Many of them — from the Owensville office — have also been working from home, some with the virus and some not.
Connie has also been confined with me. This has put a strain on the employees at the Linn office where she works five days a week.
On Wednesdays we normally have me along with seven others working to get part of our three publications from the Owensville office delivered to local post-offices and stores.
On Wed., Feb. 17 between snow and COVID-19 only two of the eight would report for work that morning at 5:30. To help out, long-time employee Ruth Jost — who was COVID free — came in to help get papers ready. Something she has probably not done for more than10 years.
To save the day, Connie’s two uncles, Tom and Gene Menz got up early that snowy Wednesday to help get the papers ready and deliver them to stores and the post offices. Something they had never done before. Thanks, Tom and Gene. I owe you big time.
The last two newspapers we have published have not been our best, but they were the best we could do with the cards we were dealt.
I want to thank you, our loyal readers and advertisers, for your understanding.
I also need to thank all my employees — in no particular order — Kari, Christine, Dave, Will, Roxie, Tammy, Ruth, Jacob, Laura, Linda, Christina, Kim, Neal, Erin, Kelsey, HB, Mary Lou, Kathleen, Connie, Sharon, Alex, Autumn, Justus, Tiffany, Lexi, Roger and Terri, for all the extra work they did these last two weeks.
On a better note, I did lose five pounds.