Vol. 10, No. 16

April 18-24, 2002

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Nine Years Covering What’s Best in the Bay and Our Lives

A couple Thursdays ago, I was driving along Busch’s Frontage Road, filling in on one of Bay Weekly’s seven delivery routes. I hadn’t made it to the bank the day before, so when the other drivers arrived early that morning, I paid some from my pocket and promised to leave payment for the others Friday. Thus I stopped by the bank on my way out of Deale.

And there, were I less absent-minded, the story would end.

Come late-afternoon, I was making my second-to-last stop at the Revell Exxon and Tigermart on Busch’s Frontage Road — where once stood the road’s namesake, Busch’s Chesapeake Inn. I left the service station its 20 papers, jumped back in my Explorer, hit Red, Hot & Blue and headed home to Annapolis. When my cell phone rang, I looked warily at the LCD on the phone’s front plate. 410/867-0304. Bay Weekly, and probably something important.

“This is Alex,” I said.

“This is Betsy,” said the paper’s seven-year production manager. “Some guy from the Exxon near the Bay Bridge called. He found a BB&T envelope in the parking lot with one of our bank deposit slips …”

I slammed the brakes, nearly getting rear-ended before pulling off the road. I felt toward the inside breast pocket of the jacket I’d worn all day, and, sure enough, the bank envelope was gone.

Betsy’s voice went on: “He left several phone numbers if you don’t catch him at the station.”

Five minutes later, I was back at the Exxon parking lot, introducing myself to owner Jim Reilly, who I found in the parking lot picking up trash. He had called some weeks back, explaining how much he enjoyed the paper and asking that we leave Bay Weekly at his station. He reached forward, and, hard as it is to believe in today’s world, in his outstretched hand he held my banking envelope.

“I was raised that when you found something that didn’t belong to you, you tried to find out who it did belong to,” Reilly said.

We talked a bit, about life and values, about work and community, before parting ways.

In the couple weeks since, I have thought about that episode and what it says.

And the story reminds me why we — Sandra Martin, Bill Lambrecht and myself — started Bay Weekly, then New Bay Times, nine years ago this week, April 22, the same day as Earth Day.

We three journalists ventured on a dream, the dream of most in our field, to own our own paper. But we dreamed of something more.

Our area of coverage — even then from Severna Park to Solomons Island — had so much in common: issues, people, history, legend and lore and, most of all, Chesapeake Bay. With material like this, we felt we had a niche, because our competition — The Capital, The Voice, The Independent and The Recorder — are saddled with the demands of hard news, most of which, by Bay Weekly standards, is bad news.

Not that we at Bay Weekly don’t have to look head-on at stories with little if any happy ending. The plight of the Bay’s crabs, oysters and its overall health is a story with few bright lights. Development, the double-edged sword of progress, builds houses for more Bay Weekly readers while diminishing the character of the land and the vitality of the water that we all love.

But a paper like Bay Weekly can — and more importantly, does — focus on the stories of what’s right in the world as well as what we can do better.

If you don’t believe it, read on. You’ll find an abundance of ways that you can help beautify the Bay and the world for Earth Day — and every day. You’ll learn how to live in harmony with our fellow creatures. You’ll laugh through the curb-side rescue of a mother duck and her 13 ducklings at Annapolis Harbour Center.

With stories like these and more — for nine years running now — Bay Weekly hopefully lives up to its promise, its dream.

And as the years near the decade mark, we’ve learned that our dream is a dream that others share and live — evidenced by the lives and good deeds of Baysiders like Jim Reilly and those of you who pick up this paper week after week.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly