WHY I DO
My family came to Durand in the early 1900s. My great-great-grandfather was a preacher and a farmer. My great-grandfather worked for the railroad. My grandfather worked at Simplicity. My father worked for Durand schools. My mother worked for DVA. I graduated a proud Railroader in 1998. Durand is in my DNA.
As an adult, I've spent the past nearly 10 years advocating for Durand as I speak daily to literally thousands of people on my morning radio show in Lansing. A regular feature on my program since 2008, "Trombone Tuesday," has frequently served as a platform to talk about Durand's legendary Marching Railroaders, an organization of which I am proud and fortunate to have been a member, as was my father, who also played trombone.
Living in North Carolina at the time, when my oldest child was nearing school-age, my wife and I laid out our criteria for the place we would call home and where our children would spend their academic careers; small school -- the opportunity to grow with their friends throughout their life, stability -- family, and a fantastic, small community in which we could serve and be proud to be part of. We chose Durand.
Having grown up with The Durand Express and feeling the loss of Durand's "sense of identity," as then-City Manager, Amy Roddy, put it to me early on, I decided, even before we had moved back to Durand, that DurandNOW.com would be born. I thought it might only ever be a hobby -- an investment, a free service I would provide to the community, sharing tidbits about our little world and hopefully encouraging more people to get involved in the community, but I did feel that the hole left by The Durand Express was great enough that the possibility for DurandNOW.com to become something bigger was fair.
WHAT I DO
In July 2012, construction of the site began. Finally, with prompting from my youngest brother to wait no longer, DurandNOW.com went live in the 11pm hour on September 1st 2012.
Within two months the site had paid advertisers, and it was clear that the hole that I had believed existed, did.
By January 2013, just four months after launching, I felt compelled to clarify what DurandNOW.com was intended to be, with a Statement of Purpose. That statement has remained on the front page of the site since January 1st 2013.
For more than three years I have pointed to this statement if ever a question would arise about what the mission of Durand Now is. I've also maintained that Durand Now is not hard news or investigative reporting -- as I wrote then, it is "girl scout cookies, yard sales and fender benders."
But as more and more people continue to utilize Durand Now for community news and information, and as the face and function of media everywhere evolves, Durand Now has become something else as well; an echo, or a voice for residents.
When, on average, almost 12,000 individuals visit DurandNOW.com each month, that's basically every single resident of the city along with three of their friends, looking for information, or, sharing information.
When Durand Now is asked a question, Durand Now will ask the question.
WHY WE DO
As residents and community members and as advocates for our city, it is our hope -- you and I -- that when we ask a question, we'll receive an answer. Or, at least, that we'll be told that an answer is not available.
We hope that our investments of time and money into our schools, churches and civic groups, and the investments that those organizations make into our community, will be seen, felt, recognized and appreciated, even if they are never acknowledged.
Making a difference. Having a positive impact. This is why we, as volunteers, athletic and band boosters, coaches, mentors, teachers and even local business people do...
WHAT WE DO
Since 2012, my wife has regularly volunteered in Durand's elementary schools. She'll be helping facilitate the upcoming picture day at Bertha Neal. She has served on the Bertha Neal PTAC board and attended meetings at both Bertha Neal and Robert Kerr. She has served as a coach and also on the board of American Youth Soccer Organization Region 814, an organization with which our three children (all Durand students) as well as hundreds others from Durand and neighboring communities are involved and represent Durand.
I wanted to run for Durand City Council in 2014, but the City Charter requires council members to have been city residents for two consecutive years immediately prior to running. I missed it by months.
In 2015, I was happy to be connected by Amy Roddy to Kathy Olund, the new Director of the Greater Durand Area Chamber of Commerce. Today, I'm happy to work in service to the local business community as a board member of the chamber, to help facilitate events that bring new consumers and revenue to our city, and to help develop new ideas that contribute to the chamber's mission.
That same year my aunt purchased and reopened one of Durand's most beloved restaurants after it closed, ending three decades of doing business in Durand. Next month, Rancho Grande Mexican Restaurant will celebrate one year since reopening.
I do what I do for the same reasons so many volunteers and others in service of our schools, churches, businesses and communities do what they do -- because it's my home and I love it.
Supporting these people and their initiatives is what I set out to do with this little website back in 2012, and though it has grown into a small (very small) business and a large learning experience, it remains a labor of love.
I will always do my best in service to you, in whatever capacity I serve, perhaps hindered only by those that don't share the same vision of supporting and building up our community and improving the perceptions of others about our community.
Thank you for 100 years of friendship to my family and thank you for four great years of Durand Now.