When you work for a daily newspaper for nearly a decade, you tend to collect things throughout your journalistic travels.
Little things, big things. A lot of junk. Some nice stuff.
As I sit in my cubicle/hovel typing this column, I'm surrounded by stuff. Little reminders of stories and beats and events.
I've got a stack of South Carolina Legislative Manuals, perched right next to a Greenwood Metropolitan District Home Degreaser Kit.
On top of the legislative manuals sits a Holy Bible given to me years ago by Greenwood County Councilwoman Edith Childs. Within that Bible is a wallet-size photograph of the late Emma Gaskin, which I use to mark Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
My desk is cluttered with fliers and candidate buttons, photographs of politicians and promotional ink pens I have picked up at various locations while out reporting. There are posters from music festivals and letters and cards from readers.
I've collected press credential badges from a wealth of different events throughout the years, from the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas to Greenville Drive baseball games to professional golf tournaments to campaign rallies and beyond.
Basically, when you go around covering things for a decade, you inevitably collect, well, STUFF. Reminders of various stories and assignments throughout the years.
For example, earlier this year I went out to the long-shuttered Greenwood Civic Center building to do a story and came back with a pocketful of bullet shell casings. (Don't ask.)
But, late last week, I picked up one of the most interesting mementos I've ever gotten while out on a story.
AS YOU MIGHT HAVE read in Saturday's Index-Journal, a host of Greenwood elected officials, business people and economic development leaders gathered at the corner of Bypass 72 and Mathis Road for the ceremonial groundbreaking of The Shops at Publix Pavilion.
Land clearing and other work has already started on the new shopping center. The linchpin of the development will be, of course, a new 49,000-square-foot Publix grocery store. The Publix is set to open in summer or early fall 2014.
Officials noted the new Publix will be a "hybrid" concept. The concept will include expanded produce, bakery, deli and prepared foods, as well as specialty cheeses and wines, a culinary center and floral department.
The Publix shopping center project is just the latest in a sort of retail renaissance in Greenwood, as there have been a number of developments in town the last two years, essentially changing the face of retail in the area.
I also heard from some very reliable sources there is another big retail deal potentially brewing in the city. The zoning pieces are beginning to fall in place. I can't reveal that one until we get a bit more of a green light, but it would be one folks in a certain part of town would find quite interesting.
FRIDAY'S PUBLIX GROUNDBREAKING ceremony was filled with all the typical pomp and circumstance.
There were men in suits milling about looking vaguely menacing. There were politicians glad-handing and smiling and, well, politicking. The mayor gave a rousing speech, as did the chairman of county council.
State Sen. Floyd Nicholson, always at the ready when there is ground to be broken or a ribbon that needs cutting, brought greetings and offered remarks.
When the time came, various elected officials, economic development leaders, developers and others gathered around a big pile of dirt for the ceremonial groundbreaking.
I've covered approximately 1,638 groundbreakings through the years, so I noted the shovels for this one were particularly fancy. They were painted a shade of gold, with a little placard on the handle.
The politicians and others plunged them into the aforementioned mound, turned a little dirt and the groundbreaking was officially complete. (I should note about a half dozen bulldozers were rumbling over the site throughout the "groundbreaking," so ground had technically already been broken.)
Following the ceremony, everyone was milling about talking and celebrating. I approached Tim Lassiter, of Zimmer Development Co., and we chatted a bit about some of the details of the project.
After a minute or two he stopped me.
"Hey, do you want one of these shovels?" he asked, referring to the shovels that were used in the groundbreaking.
"Um, sure," I replied. I wasn't about to turn down a ceremonial shovel, after all. Lassiter walked over to the stage and returned with one of the shovels, handing it to me with a smile.
Several folks who were either directly or indirectly involved with the ceremony also received shovels, including Greenwood County Councilman Robbie Templeton.
As we compared ceremonial shovels, Templeton glanced at mine and joked I could use it to "shovel up all of Richard Whiting's bull (stuff)." I don't think that will be possible, as it is not an industrial grade shovel.
So, as I type this, I have sitting by my desk - propped up between a stack of newspapers and an autographed photo of radio host Jim Bohannon - a golden shovel with the inscription "Publix Pavilion Groundbreaking September 20, 2013."
I will hold onto it. Partly because it will be a neat memento from a great occasion in Greenwood and partly because it will make a good conversation piece.
And, yes, I might occasionally have to use it to shovel some of Whiting's bull stuff.
Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-5650; email email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.