By the time this article appears in the News Leader I will be in my final days as a reporter for the newspaper. I just wanted to write a short note of thanks to the readers for letting me be a part of the community. I have enjoyed reporting the news for you. Though some stories have been downright tragic, I have had some wonderful experiences while covering Macedonia, Northfield Center, Northfield Village and Sagamore Hills.

One of the very first articles I wrote for the News Leader was about missionary Teresa Thomas, known as Ozioma (Good News) in Igboland in Africa. Meeting Ozioma was inspirational and an experience I will never forget, as she visited St. Barnabas Catholic School. Her story and the message she shared were truly amazing.

Likewise with Macedonia Firefighter Karen Crist, who visited another part of Africa with her church missionary group. Truly interesting and inspiring stories. Keep doing what you are doing ladies; the world needs kindness like yours!

Over the course of the last few months, I have been covering the heroin epidemic. To those of you who shared your stories and struggles with me, I thank you. Not because I wanted "a scoop," as some say, but because I truly hope, like you, that sharing your stories makes a difference and helps at least one person think twice, or opens their eyes to what is going on in front of them.

I have also enjoyed writing about local student achievements, and it was incredible to see every student at Northfield Elementary so pumped about reading a book when all of the staff and parents took part in the One School, One Book program. I also enjoyed covering the Power of the Pen competition. I will be rooting for Nordonia Hills students to continue doing well in all their endeavors.

There have been some pretty cool businesses that have started in the area. CW's Purple Iris, which is in Oakwood but has the same owner as the Dolphin Restaurant, was a great story of how someone turned a tragic part of their life into something wonderful.

As I reflect on the articles I have written, there have been a lot of contentious issues. I still remain objective about the issues, but I would like to express here again that everyone inside the political arena and outside of it should be respectful to one another.

I wrote an award-winning column almost a year ago referring to the behaviors I saw going on at various public meetings, and this year was no exception. It can be found online if you search "Reporter fed up with peanut gallery" and a link is available on the city of Macedonia's website under meeting agendas, under "Meeting Etiquette." I urge not only residents but officials to re-read it and remind themselves their behavior does not go unnoticed and is usually recorded.

I will miss writing my columns and sharing animal news and reflections with readers as well.

To everyone I have interviewed during the past two years, thank you. I appreciate your candor, your willingness to share your thoughts and information.

It has been a wild ride and I have had some interesting experiences that, you never know, may end up in a book some day.

Briana Barker: 330-541-9432