Thank you for the journey of a lifetime [Editorial]

In the holiday rush of wrapping-up packages this month, I’m wrapping up something big of my own. After 22 years at the Laurel Leader and a total of 43 years in the business of newspapers as a proofreader, typesetter, designer, writer and editor, I have decided to retire. My last day is Dec. 29.

My newspaper career has been the journey of a lifetime, beginning at age 19 when I landed my first job at a small legal daily in Washington, D.C. My journey continued as publications editor at the Preservation Press at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, then as a freelance writer when the kids were growing up, eventually returning to part time work in the Laurel Leader’s Main Street offices. For a decade, I continued to write my Old Town Laurel neighborhood column as I expanded my role at the paper. I was named editor of the Leader in 2008 and in 2014 added the Howard County Times and Columbia Flier to my plate, helping to move the papers from Patuxent Publishing to the Baltimore Sun Media Group, from weekly print publications to daily online publishing.

I feel grateful for having had a chance to serve a community that I really believe in and it was an honor, and privilege, to carry forward the Laurel Leader editorship of James Curley, Bowie McCeney, Gertrude Poe, Karen Yengich, Joe Murchison and Pete Pichaske.

A list of all those I would like to thank for supporting me and pushing me toward success would stretch too far. But among them are Joe Murchison and Doug Miller in my first years at the Leader; Jack Gibbons and Paul Milton as I took over the Howard County papers; Jim Joyner, formerly of Patuxent Publishing and now in the Baltimore Sun newsroom; and Elizabeth Eck, our targeted media managing editor who believed in me and has fearlessly led our newsroom through many changes.

My current staff on the Laurel Leader and the Howard County papers — John Scheinman, Katie McClelland, Andrew Michaels, Kate Magill and Allana Haynes — are part of a revolving group of talented journalists I have worked with over the years.

By far, my family members have been my biggest supporters. Thank you, Wayne, and our now-grown children Alex, Andrew and Mary, for sharing me with all this newspapering over the decades.

In my retirement, I plan to write, to read, to travel to the places Wayne and I have on our too-long list and to continue to support Laurel in various volunteer roles.

I feel a special relationship with our community after my years of keeping watch on the news happening here, celebrating the victories, illuminating the problems and trying to bolster efforts to make Laurel a better place.

Thank you, readers, for providing the road map for my journey.

Melanie Dzwonchyk

Content editor, Laurel Leader, Howard County Times, Columbia Flier

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