In wrapping up a long career of daily community newspaper publishing, it’s difficult to avoid comparisons. All four communities that Susan and I were involved in were distinctly different in regard to economies, readership, politics and potential.
During those years, we would return here to visit Susan’s family in the summers or at Christmas. There was an appreciation and respect for this city, its surrounding beauty and its people. Then in 2011, we were able to live and publish in Sheridan. Some departing thoughts, to wit:
• What separates Sheridan is its philanthropy, first and foremost. Most communities have to fight tooth-and-nail to advance local recreation, culture or services via bond issues or tax measures. The philanthropy in Sheridan is broad and deep, considering: Sheridan College, the YMCA, the senior citizens center, WYO Theater, Whitney Center for the Arts, the Whitney Rink at the M&M’s Center and much more. There’s a willingness, time and again, by local foundations to write a check on behalf of citizens and their future. There’s too many benefactors to list, and that’s the phenomenal part.
• If you want to see first-hand what Sheridan College means to this community, besides the significance of economic drivers like a $74 million annual budget and 300-plus people on the payroll, attend a baccalaureate ceremony and graduation. There’s a room full of prideful family members and graduates bent on changing the world and becoming solid citizens. The vibe of accomplishment is palpable. Some 1,400-plus students are in new or upgraded facilities that attract a growing enrollment. Impressive, too, is the attention given veterans by SC in advancing their educations. Every community in which we lived had community colleges which were, well, like community colleges — solid, accredited and appreciated, yet limited. SC is indeed unique.
• Main Street. Merchants want to be there, in comparison to so many small cities where Main Streets wither and blow away from inattention, inexperience, inadequate merchandising and limited advertising. Sheridan’s Main Street is vibrant, rich in activity; shoppers want to be seen there, socialize — feel the fabric, try on the shoes and so forth. As a result, shopkeepers are invested in their customers. There is a men’s store, several boutiques and specialty stores, an independent book seller. You can get shoes, jewelry, tack, fishing gear, a bicycle, a haircut, furniture, specialty candy. Why, there’s even a corner drug store and a travel agent. You can dine out, belly up to famous bars, meet friends for coffee and fresh pastry, browse galleries and attend live music and theater. There are upscale condos, the occasional lawyer, and it’s a hoot to see so much neon signage. Believe me, there aren’t many Main Streets like Sheridan’s.
• The Brinton Museum. Every time Susan and I leave a new exhibit or revisit a favorite, it always brings a smile. Natives, newcomers and tourists are affected by the atmosphere therein. It’s worthy of support.
• I’m a cancer survivor (14 years!) and have been a “guest” at Sheridan Memorial Hospital on two occasions and have used the facilities for out-patient needs. First-rate care. Remarkable expansion of cancer, cardio and emergency/ICU medicines in a short period of time.
• Tamales — the good ones — require real skill to perfect. The masa, the marinated pork, the sauce. I’ve eaten tamales from all over and the best ever are available right here from Alice Fletcher’s kitchen inside El Tapatio Dos on N. Main St.
• Impressive, too, is how institutions here don’t rest on past performance or reputations. Every New Year is exactly that. The Sheridan WYO Rodeo, the Chamber, Sheridan Travel and Tourism know they have to be innovative — year in, year out — in order to succeed and satisfy.