Between the Lines Column No. 1

A new beginning in the last best place

If you’re reading this, you likely already know there is a new owner of The Post Dispatch and its sister papers. The LK Media Group, LLC purchased Blackburn Media Group the first week of December.

And I, as the president of LK Media, am pleased to be the new publisher of these fine newspapers. During the acquisition process, I worked extensively with the outgoing owners Chris and Sharon Blackburn.

Not only were they great to work with; they leave big shoes to fill in the local newspaper business. I know they will do well in their next chapter of life, and I wish them the best.

By way of a little background, LK Media is part of a hodgepodge of companies involved in construction, commercial and residential real estate, outdoor advertising, hospitality and newspaper and online media. Believe it or not, there is an interesting connection between these assorted companies.

They were all the brainchild of Mark Hicks, who never saw a backroad he didn’t like, who can’t sit still unless he’s driving on one of those backroads and who loves small downtowns in Texas.

I know these things because I have covered many miles of backroads with this man who thinks John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is the world’s greatest opera. I have followed him around and looked inside countless boarded up buildings with a flashlight and listened to him talk in glowing terms of the rebirth of downtowns none but him can see.

When he is not driving Texas backroads, he creates companies dedicated to the business of revitalizing and promoting the historic downtowns he falls in love with. That’s how LK Media made its way to the Panhandle and Panhandle Plains of Texas.

Mark introduced me to the beauty of this region. He explained his vision for the area and his attraction to the people. I, too, was captivated on my first trip to Childress and Paducah (who wouldn’t be?). Upon our return home, Mark asked me to write a short piece for Facebook to introduce a couple of renovation projects in the area.

Here is the first paragraph of that piece: “The stars at night shine remarkably bright under the clear skies of the Texas Panhandle Plains. And, whether it’s pioneer history or the famous ranches of Old Texas, there is more history in and near the small towns of the Panhandle than one can adequately explore in a lifetime. But, perhaps best of all are the Panhandle Plains people, —who still want their schools to refrain from assigning homework on Wednesdays, who know the pledge to the Texas flag by heart, and who may be the only people left on earth who still know how to put a horny toad to sleep. The Panhandle Plains may just be the Last Best Place in Texas.”

So when the opportunity to purchase Blackburn Media Group arose, it was what is known in the Hicks business world as “a no-brainer.” Not only do we get to spend more time in the small towns of our adopted Panhandle and Panhandle Plains region, we get to write about the places, the events and, best of all, the people. I intend to do that routinely in the paragraphs of this column that I am calling “Between the Lines.”

But I need your help. I need our readers to send me all the information they find interesting about the area, the towns and the history. I am interested in names, locations and stories. I am also interested in hearing about your family and your current events – past, present and future.

If your granddaughter is marrying, or married, a freckle-faced young man who works on a ranch in Cottle County, I want to know the details – the date, place and names of all the family members who drove in from Amarillo. If you recently attended a family reunion, tell us where and when. Tell us if the family printed matching T-shirts commemorating the event and, if so, what was written on the shirt.

I think you get the idea. At our newspapers – actually, your newspapers – we are interested in reporting on real events and real people in perhaps the Last Best Place in Texas. We aren’t unconcerned about people and events on K St. or Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C. (at least a few of us aren’t). It is just that people who know how to put a horny toad to sleep are just a heck of a lot more interesting.

We’ll leave world diplomacy, impeachment and cocktail parties to those who have more time on their hands; we want to know the name of your grandson, who is graduating from college, and what is happening all over the Last Best Place in Texas. I am looking forward to hearing from you at bgreen@lknewsgroup.com.

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