Today’s news:

The final scorecard

I am sadly announcing my retirement from the Bronx Times.

I am writing this one day removed from my final day, wondering if it will be a TV ending, with the real possibility I will be the last one to leave the office, turn back and take a final look, before closing the lights for good and heading into a new life. I’m getting older and I am craving new challenges, but nothing will ever take away from my experiences here.

I had graduated Baruch College in 2000 and John Collazzi, having received my resume and writing samples, called me in for an interview. I was to meet him in the old Throggs Neck office on Calhoun Avenue. As a Morris Park native, I must admit, I didn’t even know anything about Throggs Neck, so I ended up getting there over an hour early. It was a lot closer than I had expected, but still a whole new world.

I got the job and started the first week of September. The first person I met was Evelyn Pereira, who would end up becoming a mother figure to me at the job for close to six years. There was Donna Dechiaro, the managing editor, who really taught me a lot about editing, and had immediate faith in my writing ability. There was Phyllis Provino-Cullen, a writer and one of my closest friends, who actually became a neighbor, when I, myself, moved to Throggs Neck. There were my buddies Mirtha Paez, Ivonne Winkler and Jennifer Prudenti, who made work instantly fun for me. Harvey Stern, the silver-haired fox who has far more energy than me. And of course, there was Walter Pofeldt, who I mentioned extensively in a column several weeks back. We basically started and left together.

Over the years, the cast of characters changed quite a bit. There was Lisa Cullen, the young intern who had three tours of duty and became a valued addition to staff and a good friend. There was Katrina Walker, who was my everyday lunch buddy and has since become a friend for life. There was Bobby Ciafardini, who can’t play basketball as well as he announces it, but was a lot of fun hanging out with while he was here. John Roche and I worked so closely together. His advice was always welcomed; his support was always greatly appreciated. Bret Nolan Collazzi and I worked so hard together to continuously create a better product. It was a good team, along with Lorna Montalvo and Jennifer Procario, who were the subject of this column in the past, too.

And then there is the current crop of talent. Jeni Asaba, who has helped me tremendously with her journalistic knowledge and experience; Patrick Rocchio, the tireless workhorse who is going to be the future star of this paper, if he isn’t already; Amanda Marinaccio, who just joined the staff – good luck; Donna Wilson, who is the nicest human being anyone could ever know; Lori Masciarelli, who always reads my ridiculous columns; Mauro DeLuca, who is an amazing graphic artist; Franklyn Waters, my partner in crime; Kevin Heckman, who I came to rely on greatly and never disappointed; Victor Chu, who has brought a whole new style with him and why not – he’s from Baruch, too; Jody Concepcion and Jerry Landi, my two hard-working freelancers; and Bob Connolly and Gina Stallone, who have helped to make the sports section what it is today.

And then there is John Collazzi, who took a major chance on an unproven writer. For that, I will be forever grateful. He taught me everything I know about how to put a paper together. I truly believe in his vision for the Bronx Times and the entire borough. I worked hard to make those visions a reality. I hope I succeeded in some way.

And Laura Guerriero has been a mother figure to me, too, during my entire time here. She kept me focused and is always encouraging me, letting me know that no matter how hard things were, I would be able to get the job done. I truly believe she is the heart and soul of this paper and I am going to miss her very much. Thank you for everything.

Finally, thanks go out to the community, people like Senator Jeff Klein, Councilman Jimmy Vacca, Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera, Madeline Provenzano, John Fratta, Vinny Prezioso, Joe Thompson, Hazel Miura, John Bonizio, Victor DiPierro, Chris Traumer, Al D’Angelo, Zena Twyman, Irene Estrada-Rukaj, Will Negron, Wallace Hasan, every high school principal, teacher and coach, and so many millions of other people who were so helpful during my time here. Thank you all. And to my baby Kristy…I love you. Thanks for keeping my head in the game.

When the final score is tallied, everyone I came in contact with made me a winner. Thank you and goodbye.

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