Column: Giving thanks for work done by newspaper staff

Nov. 23—What a whirlwind two months since my arrival here in Aiken. I have been so impressed with the kindness and welcoming nature of so many.

I wanted to formally introduce myself to our readers and give thanks for all of the hard work the Aiken Standard staff has done this year as we come ever closer to wrapping up our 155th year serving this community.

My name is RJ Benner, and I am the new publisher with the Aiken Standard. I arrived in September just in time to see the leaves change and the summer heat fade into fall. As the holidays rush upon us and the days get shorter and nights longer, it is easy to lose focus on the things that really matter. This is my reminder to those who work so hard each day to produce the Aiken Standard, from discussion to delivery, of the miracle that takes place daily. Here is my thanks.

I am thankful first and foremost to all our readers and viewers. Without your dedication, loyalty and commitment to being informed, none of us would be given the blessing of serving this community.

We believe we are stewards of the community dedicated to the idea of preserving our democracy by being a beacon of light to those areas hidden, and a source of truth for those searching. Our newsroom, led by executive editor John Boyette, tirelessly works to provide strong hyperlocal content each day. Whether it is sharing changes happening at the Savannah River Site or covering the fallout from Project Pascalis, they never cease to press on to make sure our community is served.

Diane Daniell, our advertising sales manager, leads a dynamic team of consultants. They juggle so much between marketing and consulting with local businesses to developing impactful special sections such as our Veterans Day special. They never slow down, they never take pause and, because of that, we continue to provide so much more than just news to our county.

Karen Klock oversees our production department. They gather all of the news, all of the advertising and find a way to make it all fit and flow nicely across your pages. They work late nights making last-minute revisions, edits and finally sending our completed paper to our press. They also handle so many more internal tasks from flyers, content for special editions and so much more. They are truly the chefs taking all of the ingredients and making a masterpiece.

Shawn Gannon leads our press and mailroom departments. These are the unsung heroes never seen. They work late, long and hard hours each day. Covered in ink and exhausted by the end of the night, these teams make sure the paper gets printed, and all of your sections and inserts are neatly packed away for your reading enjoyment.

Kathy Boyette and Trina Stukes oversee our circulation department. To our readers who ever have had an issue with a carrier, you may know both ladies well. They do it all. From fielding customer service calls to delivering open routes they will do anything and everything in their power to get that paper to your doorstep every morning.

Our carriers — the last leg of the process. They work late at night until the early morning, delivering through all kinds of conditions, navigating in the dark of night as they seek out addresses. For those who have had a carrier long term, you can certainly appreciate the reliability of seeing that paper each morning on your doorstep; for those of you with newer carriers, patience (and a well-labeled address) can go a long way.

There are so many more people and departments that go into producing the Aiken Standard, from our amazing customer service team to our accounting department led by Latasha Yeldell, who literally makes sure the lights stay on. Our human resources/catch-all extraordinaire is Cassandra Singfield, who ensures everything stays in motion from keeping us staffed to making sure each employee has a voice. She keeps us all balanced.

So I give thanks to each and every one in our front office, the newsroom, advertising, production, press and mailroom, our distribution team and our carriers. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Happy holidays.