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So this is it. Wednesday marked the last issue of the Matagorda Advocate I worked on and put together. It is bittersweet that on the last day I was working on layout and putting the paper together for Thursday, was also the newspaper's Sweet 16. I feel honored to have been the editor of this newspaper on such a special day.

I spent many Wednesday mornings, at the crack of dawn, working on the newspaper that I care deeply for.

I will miss the long hours, the running around interviewing people for stories, the events, the meetings, but most importantly, I will miss the people who I worked with every day to make this newspaper possible.

These last couple of days I have been living in a hotel. Kind of ironic that when I first moved to Bay City, I lived in a hotel, too. Just as I came to this place with hopes and dreams, I now find myself exiting this place with a heavy heart. I have learned so much from everyone here and have learned to admire this place for its willingness to continue and believe.

These last couple of days have been difficult. I find myself saying goodbye to so many people. I've had people I don't even know come up to me to wish me good luck in the next chapter of my life. Others have emailed me, asking me not to leave.

I love the relationships I have built, the friends that I have made here. I am going to miss walking on the sidelines on Friday nights snapping photos of the football team. I will miss the feeling I got every time I attended a parade - seeing so many happy, smiling faces. I will miss going to Happy Radio to talk about the newspaper every Thursday morning.

To sum it up, I will miss everyone here.

As the countdown reaches its end for me to leave this place and embark in my new job, I have found myself feeling sad. I know that accepting this new opportunity is the right thing to do. I am using what I have learned here and will apply it to my new job.

Moving forward, I am excited to announce that my best friend, J.R. Ortega, will be taking over the duties of general manager and editor of this paper.

He was the features editor and health reporter of the Victoria Advocate for three years.

He's also an award-winning health reporter. He's received three awards from the Texas Medical Association and was a fellow with the Maynard Institute.

I am excited that the paper will be in great hands.

A little background on him: He and I met in college, he was my editor at The Pan American, the weekly newspaper at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg.

He was also the one who encouraged me to follow my dreams of becoming a reporter. When he graduated from college, I stayed behind and enjoyed listening to him on the phone talk about his exciting reporting days.

When I told him I wanted to be a daily reporter, too, he encouraged me to talk to Chris Cobler, the Victoria Advocate editor.

And, as the saying goes - the rest is history.

There are so many people who I want to thank, but instead of naming everyone, I just want to thank everyone in Matagorda County. Thank you for being so welcoming. Thank you for sharing your stories with me, your news, your events and thank you for letting me share them in our newspaper.

To close my final column, I was reading Mayor Mark Bricker's Facebook page and in there, he used a quote that read: "It's not where you've been or who you are. It's about where you're going and who you will be. The future is full of hope and promise if you want it to be."

This resonates true with each and every one of us. Each of us has a path to follow, and the road that led us there has shaped where we are going.

I can say whole-heartedly say that the past three years in Bay City will be a time in my life that I will reflect back on in my future.

So this is not goodbye; there will always be a place in my heart for this county and I can guarantee each of you one thing - I'll be back for a visit soon before you know it.