After all these years, to any who may have been joyous over the thought of purging me and my opinions from this page, apologies.

I’m back.

Not that I ever really went away.

As announced at the time, my last official day as the BDN’s editor was Nov. 20 after 44 years with the paper. An old friend and colleague, Sid Schwartz, assumed regional editor management duties for the Adams Publishing Group of Southern Wisconsin, including Beloit. Sid’s calling the shots now, with a talented team in Beloit, and he’ll be good at it.

Meanwhile, BDN subscribers know I’ve always had a lot of thoughts and opinions about, well, nearly everything going on around the Stateline Area, in Wisconsin, in Illinois, and now and then the country as a whole. Fact is, I have enjoyed opinion writing for decades and, at the risk of being a bit immodest, a multitude of industry awards for those efforts suggests I have some knack for it.

I appreciate being invited by Adams Publishing to continue writing editorials and columns for the Beloit Daily News, and I’m pleased we came to an agreement for that to happen.

The plan calls for me to write the weekly editorials, along with a monthly column.

Personally, it’s gratifying to continue having a voice and a platform from which to comment on issues large and small in our wonderful communities. I promise to do my homework, as I have in the past, and to hold myself to a standard of accuracy and fairness and civility.

This is a great city, a great region and an area on the rise. The Beloit Daily News is a solid newspaper, with a strong journalistic reputation, and it continues to play a key community role not only in reporting news but also as an active participant in a growth-oriented future.

The opinion pieces I contribute will come from that perspective. They will not be academic exercises or mere musings, though now and then in a column I’ll probably wander off into the weeds a bit. This is home. Everybody has a stake. Opinions expressed will keep in mind the desired outcome is progress.

The past few weeks, since Nov. 20, I have continued to write the paper’s editorials. Some readers may even have noticed the style seemed oddly familiar.

I look forward to staying connected with readers as we see history unfold in the Stateline Area.

As always, your thoughts and comments are warmly welcomed. Reach out, anytime the spirit moves you; my email address is, still bbarth@beloitdailynews.com

By the way, your Public Forum thoughts are an important part of the community discourse, and readers are encouraged to submit their own letters for publication. Mail a letter, drop it off or use the handy online portal at the paper's website.

The gift of safety

It’s Christmas, almost. And this one will be very weird. And, in many ways, sad.

Public health officials continue to advise people to stay home, to avoid those traditional big gatherings of family from all over the map. While you and others within your own everyday household may have played it safe, others coming in to -- as the experts say -- “swap air” may have been less careful. And, yes, that even means close members of your family.

It’s hard. Since moving north more than four decades ago from southern Illinois, I have missed just one Christmas with my family back on the farm, and that was only because a blizzard stopped all movement -- even trains. Dad is 93, and his house is where the Barth clan gathers. Not this year. Dad’s health is fragile, and protecting him from a rush of outside family members is important. He still gets visitors, including me, now and then. But one at a time, appropriately masked up.

Overly cautious? Maybe.

But, without using names in order to preserve privacy, I know two prominent older people in our community who recently succumbed to complications from COVID-19. I’m guessing most readers know someone who has died or became seriously ill from a coronavirus infection.

The first vaccine shots are going into arms now. There is hope. In a few months there could be sufficient reductions in new infections to encourage a cautious return to normal. With luck and science, next Thanksgiving and Christmas will be much happier in the company of our loved ones.

Until then, don’t blow it. Don’t endanger loved ones just as safer times seem nearer.

Keep Christmas smaller this year, so everybody can still be around to celebrate next time.

William Barth is the former editor of the Beloit Daily News.

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