This is not a subject I would have picked for my last column in the Herald-Banner, but it’s important to acknowledge mistakes.

We printed a letter in the Royse City paper last week stating that Commissioner David Magness had filed bankruptcy twice — Chapter 12 and Chapter 7 — and “cheated” creditors out of money after collecting more than $600,000 in federal farm subsidies.

As it turns out, most of this information was incorrect. The letter will not run in the Rockwall County Herald-Banner.

The only bankruptcy filing for Joe David Magness is for a Chapter 12 bankruptcy.

The Herald-Banner did not write this information, but we did print it. All I can say is I dropped the ball. In a rush to make sure every voice was heard, I failed to double check the “facts” of a potentially damaging letter. I offer this only by way of explanation; there is no excuse.

I will say that we are strengthening our letter policy. Opinion is one thing, but if something like this is offered as fact, we will do everything we can to verify it. Otherwise, the letter won’t run.

This is a routine policy for news articles. We don’t just run rumor; we investigate what’s going on. A good example came up last Friday, when people were calling us and other news outlets about Rockwall High School being locked down because of some incident involving weapons. Some even said a student had been shot. As it turns out, a neighborhood argument had spilled over onto school grounds. To make sure everything stayed safe, the school beefed up security. There were no weapons. There was no violence. There wasn’t even a lockdown.

I admit this should have been routine for letters before now. This probably comes as small consolation to Mr. Magness, but I apologize for the mistake, and we’re going to work hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

And, yes, you did read correctly at the beginning. This is my last column. As of Friday, I am no longer in the newspaper business. I begin my new corporate career Monday as internal communications specialist with Bell Helicopter.

It feels a little weird to be going over to what journalists often refer to as the “dark side.” I’ve been doing this for eight years now. I like what I do. I enjoy the variety of assignments. I enjoy the challenge of figuring out what’s going where in the paper and finding the best means of presentation. About the only thing I don’t enjoy is the pay. Corporate communications/public relations may be the dark side, but it’s also got a lot of green in it. With my family increasing next month, I need all the green I can get.

To my colleagues and friends at the newspaper and in the community: It’s been real. It’s been fun. Actually, it’s been real fun. I’ve grumbled sometimes about the workload or certain assignments, but looking back on everything, I’d have to say that all in all I’ve had a blast here. I know I haven’t always seen eye to eye with some government officials, but I’m still going to miss you, too.

So here we are. It’s time to pack up and head out. Time for that final farewell. But now that it is here, I’m not really sure the best way to say it. Take your pick: Good-bye, see ya, adios, do svidaniya, sayonara, auf wiedersehen, ciao or farewell.

With apologies to Douglas Adams: So long and thanks for all the news.

Jeff Parish was managing editor. For anyone who (for whatever reason) would still like to contact him, he can be reached at

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