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From ‘Chatting with Chatley’ to ‘Speaking with Schumer’

HAMBURG — Starting at The Sun feels like coming home. I was born and raised in Hamburg and have lived here all my life, but my legacy at this newspaper began long before I was born.

Some of you may remember the “Chatting With Chatley” or “Hamburg With Relish” columns that ran in The Sun, many decades ago. Those columns were penned by my great-aunt Rita Chatley, a lifelong “Hamburger” who started me on the path to journalism before I knew it was happening.

I remember sitting in front of her rickety old window air conditioning unit, flipping through her yellowing, old newspaper clippings when I was small, fingering the sticky keys on her typewriter, whose clacking noises made me jump.

Aunt Rita died several years ago, but I still think of her when someone tells a corny “Aunt Rita joke” or I see a silly hat, one of her many trademarks. She was a role model for me, both in journalism and her deep love of this area, where she was born and raised.

And I thought of her this week, as I set up my office at The Sun in the village plaza. Her house would have been within walking distance, and I couldn’t help but wonder what she’d think, if she knew I had taken the wheel at the hometown paper she held so dear. I hope she’d be proud.

I know I am.

I grew up with The Sun landing on the kitchen table every week and, while there have been changes over the years and will doubtless be more as time marches on, I think the heart of the paper has always been the people and places we all call home.

It’s hard to promise anything in the newspaper business, but I can make one pledge to you, our readers: I will do my best to cover our local areas as fully, as accurately and in as unbiased a manner as I can. And I wholeheartedly trust that our excellent team of writers whose bylines appear in these pages every week will continue to do the same.

There’s a lot going on in Hamburg, these days. The Hamburg School Board charged Catherine Schauth Ferruci with misconduct on April 30, and the community waits to hear whether she will be officially relieved of her duties. A school board election is also coming up on May 20, with several candidates’ throwing their hats into what, right now, looks like a contentious ring.

The town of Hamburg board has been embroiled in debate over Woodlawn Beach in recent weeks; first, the shuttering of Woody’s, next the proposed termination of beach manager Barbara Lipka, in the name of “changes” taking place at that location. A proposed senior housing facility at 0 Main St. has sparked discussion throughout the village.

In the village, the Hamburg Library is undergoing major reconstruction, as is the veterinary clinic across the street. Last weekend, the farmers’ market spread its wares across the municipal parking lot, with everything from plants to pasta.

I’ve visited the farmers’ market with my mother since before I can remember, and I’m looking forward to seeing many of you there, throughout this summer.

Our surrounding towns and villages have plenty going on, as well, from the installation of a new pastor at Faith United Church of Boston, to Eden Central Schools examining extracurricular budgets, to North Collins’ taking a look at district borders.

I’m sure every resident can name a different event, cause or concern The Sun should cover, but these are just a sampling of what we’ve got our eyes on, lately, and what we’ll continue to watch, as time goes on.

And if you’ve got an idea for us, an event to bring to our attention or constructive criticism to offer, my office door, ears and eyes are always open. I love hearing from readers about what we’re doing right, what we’re not doing well and what we could be doing better, to serve and inform our community.

As I get settled into The Sun’s editor seat, I think about a quote from Henry Luce that’s posted above my desk at home: “I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world.”

I learned to love journalism first in Hamburg, and I’ve always loved this area as the place where my heart was formed. I’m excited to get started, getting as close to that heart as I can.

And I thank Aunt Rita for first planting the seed where I’m now so proud to plant my pen.
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