After an 11-year run with The Star Democrat, Dorchester Star and the Times-Record newspapers, I'm beginning a new chapter away from APG Chesapeake and turning the reins over to Hannah Combs as the new Caroline/Dorchester editor.

Combs is an Eastern Shore native who grew up in Dorchester County and spent part of her summers in Annapolis with her grandparents. She now lives on her family farm in Caroline County with her husband and children while raising heritage hogs and culinary mushrooms.

Combs began at APG Chesapeake five years ago as a staff writer, working in Queen Anne's County for the Bay Times and Record Observer newspapers while contributing to The Star Democrat

"I am looking forward to contributing to the county in which I grew up and the one that I now call home," Combs said. "As I have watched how our communities have grown over the last several decades while maintaining so many steadfast traditions, I want to continue sharing these experiences with our readers.

"I am incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity to play a part in bringing to you, our readers, the local and regional news that impacts our community."

Hannah is an outstanding community journalist and person. Caroline and Dorchester counties will be in great hands under her leadership. I wish you the very best.

Thank you to my wife Carol, daughters Emma and Sadie, and all my family and friends for their love and support.

I would like to give a big thank you to the Mid-Shore community for welcoming me when I moved to the Eastern Shore in September 2008 to begin my career as a general news reporter in Dorchester County for The Star Democrat and Dorchester Star

Thank you to Executive Editor Denise Riley and Managing Editor Barbara Sauers for hiring me and being outstanding mentors to a young reporter. 

Thank you to my news editors, Steven Nery, Sarah Ensor and Daniel Divilio, and Kelley Allen Callaghan, Andrew Sharp and Josh Bollinger for helping me grow as a journalist and demonstrating the true meaning of being a professional. I also want to thank David Everman for being a helpful hand when I first started and for all the work he does on all the newspapers across APG Chesapeake.

For years, I read great stories by Trish McGee, and it was awesome to share a sideline with her when Caroline and Dorchester teams would play Kent County teams. 

Roxane Watts, Erin Fluharty Lewis and Chris Polk inspired me to become a better photographer. There is a part of them in every picture I take. They gave me the confidence to be creative with a camera. Thank you for being outstanding mentors.

I want to give special thank you to North Caroline High School yearbook teacher Darryl Silsley, who taught me how to shoot nighttime sports photography on the sidelines of a Bulldog football game in 2013. You helped bring my sports photography to another level, and the community gets to enjoy my sports photos because you helped me.

I worked with outstanding, award-winning sports journalists on the sidelines since 2013 — my Times-Record Sports Editor David Insley, Ayman Alam and Chris Knauss. It was an honor to share the sidelines with you. I'll miss the conversations during the game.

To John Griep, Bill "Biff" Haufe, Greg Maki and Angela Price for being my rocks in the newsroom. You inspired me to be creative, gave me support and looked after me. You all are superstars. 

On a side note with Biff, thank you to the Washington Capitals for winning the Stanley Cup. We watched many playoff defeats together in the newsroom, then in 2018 celebrated the Capitals as they defeated Columbus, the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay and the Vegas Golden Knights to win the Cup. We got the Cup. 

I worked with amazing journalists in Caroline and Dorchester — Abby Andrews, Victoria Wingate, Candice Spector, Katie Fitzpatrick and Gail Dean. It was an honor to share our days together. 

I leave four awesome journalists in Easton — Connie Connolly, Christina Acosta, Chris Polk and Kayla Rivas. Thank you for all the memories. You will be great.

Thank you to the pagination, production and delivery staff for bringing the newspaper to the homes of our Mid-Shore readers. 

To the APG executive team, advertising, accounting, IT, support staff and all the employees at the The Star Democrat office in Easton, thank you for being great teammates and support during my time at the paper. Thank you to Adams Publishing Group for giving me a chance to live out my lifelong dream as a journalist.

As a huge NASCAR fan, APG Chesapeake allowed me to cover 17 race weekends at Dover International Speedway and the 2018 Daytona 500 — a lifelong dream. I also built a great relationship with ESPN, which gave us a tour of its on-site production area at Dover for a story, along with feature pieces with its writers and commentaries.

Thank you to ESPN's Ryan McGee for reaching out to me in 2012, and being a friend and a mentor. It was a dream come true to work side by side with you and Marty Smith. You put me in touch with Andy Hall, who gave me the chance to interview some NASCAR greats, Rusty Wallace (my favorite driver of all time), Dale Jarrett, Allen Bestwick and Dr. Jerry Punch. Thank you, Andy, for all the help. And thank you to Rusty, Dale, Dr. Punch and Marty for fielding phone calls for stories from our community newspaper. 

Thank you to Gary Camp and his Dover International Speedway for all your great hospitality.

Brenda Walls and the town of Ridgely even brought "The King" Richard Petty to the Ridgely Car Show six times. It was an honor to cover Petty North each fall. 

To all the readers, community members and coaches, thank you for letting me be a part of history. I had the honor to cover so many great moments in my 11 years. You welcomed me at meetings, events and businesses as I chronicled each moment. Thank you for supporting the newspaper.

Lastly to the students, covering each parade, every sporting event, all the halftime shows, homecomings, art shows and graduations gave me the biggest joy. I got to meet the future of our community. Our future is very bright because you all are superstars.

Thank you for welcoming me on campus, being a friend and even hitting a home run for me on request; that was you, Cassidy Stubbs — twice actually. 

I'll still be rooting for you, and still will find my way to your sideline, at your parades and at your graduations. You all have many more great accomplishments still to come, and I want to celebrate your greatness. You are my heroes. 

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