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Cliff Williams / The Outlook The late Mitch Sneed, seated center, treated all of his team members like they were his journalism kids.

One year. 365 days. 8,760 hours. 525,600 minutes. Too many seconds to count.

That’s how long it’s been since I heard Mitch Sneed’s belly-filled laugh. That’s how long it’s been since I’ve called Mitch with a problem like, “There’s a bird in my living room!” or “A tree just fell on my house!” That’s how long it’s been since Mitch sat down with me with a story I wrote and told me what I could’ve done better. That’s how long it’s been since I wanted to go home for the weekend but Mitch made me stay late to write that story I should’ve done two days before.

One year. 365 days. 8,760 hours. 525,600 minutes. Too many seconds to count.

That’s how long Mitch should’ve been with us since July 1, 2018.

I thought I’d be able to sit down and write a beautiful column about his legacy and what he left behind because his legacy is beautiful. But as tears fill my eyes and I think about my former editor and, more importantly, my friend, all I can say is I miss Mitch Sneed.

I miss him every day.

I miss how much he loved journalism, the passion he felt for this job and for his newsroom. There’s a dark secret in newsrooms around the country, and I’m going to tell you. Sometimes if it’s a slow day, we wish for bad news. It’s a terrible thing, and we don’t actually want negative things to happen in our community. But Mitch, more than anyone I’ve ever seen, hopped up with such a passion when he heard a call over the scanner. Heck, Mitch wouldn’t even wait for the call; if he saw a line of firetrucks or cops passing The Outlook office, he was jumping in his huge F-150 and pushing his way into the chase.

I miss how much he loved us. I wrote a year ago how Mitch and I butted heads. Sometimes I regret that, but I can’t change it. And I’ve now come to terms with the reason for our head-butting wasn’t because he didn’t like me, but because he did. Mitch loved me, as a journalist, as a friend, probably almost as a daughter, and I can say the same about his feelings toward Santana Wood, Cliff Williams, Donald Campbell and so many more he mentored. We were his journalism kids, and he loved us.

I miss how much he loved Alexander City. Mitch was always pushing to find the weirdest, most interesting people in Alex City. Mitch was always at every event, supporting his community — really, he was probably looking for a juicy story. He was always willing to take the time out of his day to bumble out of his office and chat with the people who come to the office, just to see how they were doing and how their days were going.

I miss how much he loved life. If there’s one thing I’ll never forget about Mitch, it’s his laugh. It’s that laugh that reminds you of being a little kid and thinking no one can laugh bigger or better than Santa Claus. Mitch rarely took a day off but when he did, he was usually either gambling with his wife Cyndi or catfish noodling with John McKelvey, and when he came back from those catfish trips, boy, did he love to show us his photos. With that big, boisterous laugh, he’d tell us the story of each fish they caught.

Several months ago, Santana and I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning two nights in a row, pouring over the work The Outlook staff and Mitch Sneed had done in 2018. We were entering submissions for the Alabama Press Association awards. We needed this year’s submissions to be perfect for one reason and one reason only: Mitch.

Mitch always wanted to win General Excellence; it’s a culmination of all the awards and is announced in each division. It’s basically like winning the best newspaper of the year. When I was being interviewed for this job, Mitch told me we always lacked in sports coverage and in design. He said, “Together, we’re going to win this award.” In 2018, it was Mitch’s last chance. We worked tirelessly, sometimes to the point of ridiculousness, to ensure we kept up his legacy in the six months following his death. We had to, we needed to. For him. For his award.

Saturday night at the awards banquet, when the speaker got to General Excellence Division B, Santana and I clasped hands. We wanted it so bad. Third place, not us. Second place, not us. First place, “The Outlook, of Alexander City.”

We did it. We really did it. And we did it for Mitch — “the award is something (her) dad has always been striving for,” Mitch’s daughter Jessica Sneed said when I told her about it.

Although I know Mitch is so incredibly proud of us, although I know he assembled a team of journalistic superheroes, although I know he’s watching his Outlook big screen TV in his recliner chair in Heaven, I can’t help but wish he were here.

I miss him every day. And even one year later, in my thoughts and in how I try to do my work, Mitch Sneed still “be everywhere.”

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.