School and missing an old friend

Jeff Gilliland Staff columnist

Jeff Gilliland Staff columnist

A couple topics this week:

In Friday’s edition of The Times-Gazette we published a letter to the editor criticizing the Hillsboro City Schools’ plan to reopen its doors next month. I would like to take exception to that letter.

While Hillsboro may be opening its schools a bit earlier — as usual — than the other school districts in Highland County, they all have plans similar to Hillsboro’s. And because all the schools have been meeting regularly with the Highland County Health Department and other health officials for months, they have much more information to base their decisions on than any one individual.

They are all basing their plans to reopen their schools on recommendations from the health department. The Times-Gazette has also been in regular contact with the health department since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, and I have the utmost respect for Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner and his staff.

The county’s school district’s plans are not all exactly the same, but they are quite similar. I am certain they have not taken their decisions lightly. They have all also stated that their plans could change at any time.

On the other hand, I have no doubt that person who wrote the letter to the editor had the best interests of their children, and other students, at heart. Everyone has a right to have their opinion heard, and that’s why we published the letter — because the opinion page is there so that others can offer differing opinions.

In my opinion though, the letter offered several options for opening schools that simply are not feasible. I will not go into detail, but a school’s resources are not unlimited. Lines have to be drawn somewhere.

I believe all the county’s schools are doing the best for they can with the resources and information available to them. They have worked long and hard to develop those plans. I applaud them for their efforts.

Longtime T-G employee passes

It was hard news to swallow this week when we learned that Chuck Miller, a longtime advertising representative here at The Times-Gazette, passed away due to heart issues at the age of 78.

They just don’t come much better than Chuck.

I always knew he was more than generous, but in the days since his passing I have learned that he often helped many people who were complete strangers, even when some took advantage of his kindness.

We have an annual Christmas gift exchange here at The Times-Gazette. This year, to make it a little more easy on everyone, one of our employees went around and asked each of us what we might like, then shared the list. Chuck’s answer was that he liked restaurant gift cards, so he could try something new with his family.

We draw names for the gift exchange, and each person selects something for one other person. But each year, every single one of us would receive a little something extra from Chuck. In recent years it has often been a nice Christmas tree ornament we could share with our families. But it past years I’d find a little package secretly placed beside my desk, with something tucked inside that he knew I’d especially enjoy.

Many years ago Chuck took a liking to my wife and her cheerful personality. He was always especially nice to her whenever they crossed paths. My father stops in the office to visit once in a while, and Chuck took a liking to him, too. I know it was mutual.

Chuck never missed a chance to ask me about my kids and other family members. It was obviously genuine. That’s just the way he was.

He always put his family above himself, and asked for little in return.

Chuck was a big sports fans. He liked most all sports, but Xavier basketball was his real love, and he held season tickets for years. Sometimes he complained about the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals never living up to his expectations, and he blamed many a Xavier loss on the officials. But mostly I think that was just a way to make some conversation.

For more years than I can remember we have had an NCAA Basketball Tournament pool here at the Times-Gazette. I always managed the pool, and if I was little behind getting things started, Chuck would make sure to remind me. Most every year Chuck’s family and my family had the most entries. It was something we both loved and had hours of fun debating.

When this year’s tournament was cancelled due to the virus, we were both more than a little disappointed. I know Chuck had planned to take a few days off so he and his wife could go visit with their daughter and watch basketball all day long as the tournament opened. He didn’t get to watch basketball, but he still spent the time with his family.

I did not like a March without the college basketball tournaments. My consolation was that I figured that would just make it better for Chuck and I when next March rolled around. But time ran out.

When next March comes around, and Lord willing I’m still around with it, Chuck will be on my mind. He will be on my mind every time March rolls around, and much more often than that.

We will miss you Chuck Miller. But you will forever be with us, and because of that we are better people.

Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at [email protected] or 937-402-2522.

Jeff Gilliland Staff columnist Gilliland Staff columnist