My decision to leave Cherokee has caused me great sadness, sadness over leaving friends and colleagues, sadness over departing a community that I care deeply about and sadness that I just ordered a new box of checks I won't be able to use.
However, I eagerly anticipate the challenges of my new editorial position at the Washington Evening Journal in Washington, Iowa.
I have been deeply moved by the outpouring of support shown by the people I have come to know here. At a recent gathering in my honor, an amazingly generous contribution to my meager resources guarantees that I will be able to leave this town and never come back, a sure sign of friendship - I think. Yes, that's what it must be.
And over the last couple of years, friends have provided time and resources that made a crucial difference during my debilitating illness. I particularly want to thank Jim Adamson, Ron Flewelling and my brother, Bob Ross, for their selfless efforts.
One advantage of the move is that I will be closer to family members who live in southeast Iowa. I also look forward to spending winters in the more tropical climate of southern Iowa. However, the primary reason for going to Washington is that it involves a forward career move.
There is no truth to the speculation that I am going to Washington because it is closer to Davenport, home of the 2008 Class 2A state baseball champions. It would be cruel to even suggest such a motive.
I plan on continuing to write commentary as well as news articles, possibly even having a column titled Ross Rambles. I will introduce myself to the people of Washington with a brief biography, which I will share here for those who do not know the intimate details of my life.
I was born at a very early age in a place I cannot remember. I grew up in the town of Fort Madison, Iowa, where I graduated from high school as one of the top students with a last name of four or fewer letters and who was born feet first during a month beginning with the letter 'J'.
Following high school, I held several jobs including factory worker, firefighter, and correctional officer (prison guard) before going to college in my mid 30s. I got a degree in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University in 1990 and started working that year as a reporter for the Cherokee Daily Times. I later worked for the Chronicle, first as a reporter and then as managing editor. When the Chronicle and the Cherokee Daily Times merged in 2002, I became the managing editor of the Chronicle Times.
My favorite color is sort of a bluish turquoise, just a shade off from teal. My favorite mollusk is the nautiloid cephalopod. Among my hobbies, I enjoy collecting my thoughts.
That's about all there is to know about me. I have found that there are many more fascinating people in this area than myself.
I will always remember my years in Cherokee with fondness. There are no better people in the world than those who live in this county.