The blog in which I make a lengthy metaphor about the current state of the Hydro Group

I found myself feeling more than a bit sentimental earlier this week when, upon sending an email to a coworker, I received an out-of-office reply saying, “I will be unable to answer messages today as I am helping move my daughter to college.”

I knew that she had chosen to attend my alma mater, Oklahoma State University, and as I’ve alluded to before in this blog, the time I spent at OSU was probably the happiest four five years (sorry, Mom) of my life.

I never moved back home in the summers following my freshman year at OSU, and in a quintessential college town like Stillwater — a place where the population dropped to a lazy 35,000 after the spring semester and removed from any major city by an hour in each direction — it was easy to lose track of time when the structure of classes gave way to weeks of hundred-degree days that slowly dripped one into the next.

The first indication summer was coming to an end was almost always signaled by the faint pounding of drums one would hear while walking toward campus in the opening week of August, followed several days later by the strains of brass and woodwinds as other members of the marching band began reporting to campus for their pre-semester camp.

Heading north by the football stadium, you’d begin hearing whistles blowing and pads crashing in preparation for another season that, as all OSU fans know, will ultimately crush your heart in the coming months.

Farther from campus, the lonely wildcatters who’d taken up summertime residences on the dusty barstools along Washington Street would be receiving eviction notices from the returning fraternity boys and sorority girls, whose boat shoes and sundresses would by now line out the doors of every saloon within walking distance of Greek Row.

Perhaps nothing served as a better harbinger of Stillwater’s reawakening, however, than the grocery aisles at the local Walmart — which, except in the panics precipitated by warnings of a prolonged Midwestern ice storm, are never otherwise so destitute as when the overeager parents of incoming freshmen load up their carts for one last shopping binge.

Still, the final days of fall leading up to the beginning of the first semester always constituted my favorite time of year.

They were filled with equal parts of fear for the unknown and optimism for the future, and as I sat thinking about my coworker’s automatic reply and the emotions the fall always elicited from me in college, I realized it’s exactly the same way I feel right now.

As I’m sure many of you have probably heard by now, Hydro Review associate editor Bethany Duarte has left the Hydro Group. And while we all sincerely wish her the best for her future, her departure has left quite a hole in our small editorial team.

She’d been an integral part of our team since joining the Hydro Group two years ago, so now in her absence, Elizabeth, David, Marla and I have — much like the kid who realizes all too late that his normal-sized twin sheets won’t fit the extra-long dorm mattresses — been scrambling to make the best of the situation.

Effective immediately, Elizabeth has been named Managing Editor of the Hydro Group, with an emphasis on helping me shape the editorial content for distribution across all of our platforms.

Meanwhile, I — whose role previously focused entirely on our digital and multimedia elements — have now assumed at least partial responsibilities for editing and managing content for our print publications under the title Associate Editor for the Hydro Group.

We have also decided to make a philosophical change in the way we present information, so while we aren’t sure what that will look like quite yet, we think it will ultimately benefit our audience as we make Hydro Review, HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide and much more comprehensive as a source for industry news.

So there’s the fear of the unknown.

But, there’s also optimism for the future.

I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to congratulate Elizabeth for her promotion to managing editor, and it’s only now that I’ve begun working on the print side of the Hydro Group’s properties that I see just what a well-deserved advancement that is.

Meanwhile, I’m personally extremely excited to delve back into the print world after a multi-year hiatus — not just because I love the craft of editing a product more tangible than online copy, but because it will afford me even more opportunities to interact with people working in the hydropower industry.

Having worked exclusively within the fast turnaround times demanded by digital media these past two years, the prospect of making connections beyond press releases is more than welcome, as is the ability to produce content with much greater depth than the news briefs I’ve been writing these past years.

As a team, we’re also excited about the opportunity this transition gives us to better ourselves as an information provider. As I’d mentioned earlier, our goal is to make the Hydro Group’s publications a more cohesive news source — and though we take great pride in calling ourselves “the Hydro Industry’s Proven Authority”, it’s crucial to us that you continue giving your feedback so we can back that claim up.

I heard it said countless times during my first weeks at OSU that college gives everyone the chance to start with a new identity of their own creation, and that’s essentially the same place I’d say the Hydro Group is right now.

So my sentimentality and metaphorical waxing aside, I look forward to where we’re going from here.

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