by Cheryl Buehler

It’s hard to put into words just a few days later all my feelings about the loss of my home, my inability to print a paper because of it, and my immense gratitude for everyone who has helped me through this experience … but I am going to do my best to try.

delano houseFirst and foremost, I thank West Polk Fire and Rescue in Polk County, Tennessee for waging an enormous battle to try to contain the fire and save my home. Those volunteers, along with firefighters from the Etowah, Englewood, and Claxton Fire Departments in nearby parts of Tennessee, spent many long hours facing heat and flames to stop the fire that started Monday night. The damage may have been extensive, but they never gave up the fight. It is very easy to have respect for a department of unpaid men who risk their lives to save ours, but that respect is infinitely multiplied when you see it live and in person in the middle of the night.

While we have occasionally moved the newspaper publication date for holidays or other special events, this marks the first time we have simply been unable to publish a paper. I spend every Monday night on my computer at home putting pages together and preparing them for the printer, and was in the middle of this process when the fire began. I hurried out of the house while calling 911 and everything was left behind. Now it is gone.

The most important thing is that no one was injured. While there were a lifetime of memories in that house, “stuff” can be replaced; people can not.

Being unable to print the paper on this particular week was doubly hard because it was the paper right before the election. I apologize to all the candidadates who participated in the interviews; my job is to get your words out to the public and that did not happen, nor did your advertisements make it to our readers. I thank you for your understanding about that. Because I was unable to print on time, I decided to wait until the election in order to bring the results to the readers as soon as possible.

The beauty of small-town living is that when things go wrong, the town rallies. All the phone calls, texts, words of encouragement, and offers to help are truly appreciated. And those of you who decided to give me time and not call are appreciared, as well. I am blessed to be a part of such a wonderful and caring community.

While I do not want to name everyone who has reached out to me during this ordeal, I do want to thank Cindy Moss for coming into the office Wednesday to answer the phone calls from people looking for their paper. Rich and I spent most of Thursday answering those same questions. I remain grateful that there are so many people who miss their paper when it doesn’t arrive! Thanks also goes to the staff of our neighbors at The Drug Store for explaining the situation to folks who stopped by there.

I may have lost my home, but I am truly blessed.