“Families are our foundation”

Hill prepares for re-election fight

Published in the Herald & Tribune June 25, 2014 issue

Matthew Hill, Jonesborough’s Republican State Representative, recently launched his campaign for re-election.

“I really, really enjoy my job, and I enjoy helping people. I enjoy the ability to represent my community and my home in Nashville and stand up and fight for our values every single day,” he said of why he is seeking re-election.

Hill will face local businessman Phil Carriger in the State Primary on Thursday, Aug. 7.

Hill, who grew up in Sullivan County, moved to Washington County 11 years ago. He lives in Jonesborough with his wife, whom he has been married to for 12 years, as well as his two children.

Hill sees his family as a blessing.

“Families are our foundation, and my faith is very important to me,” he said. “My faith is first and my family is second. It has always been that way.

“My faith motivates me to love and take care of the family the best I can. I love my family, my wife and my kids. They are everything to me, they really are.”

The importance of family is the platform of his campaign.

“When they vote for me, they know they have someone that is fighting for them and fighting for their family every single day,” Hill said.

Instead of seeking a new strategy for being re-elected, he said he is doing the same thing he has done in the past — knocking on a couple thousand doors.

“I love knocking on doors because I can meet people face-to-face, one-on-one, and listen to their concerns,” Hill said. “It’s a very time-consuming task, but it’s worth it. I enjoy meeting with people and talking with people and telling them what I am working on and asking for their vote and support.”

If re-elected, his number one goal is to continue to have an open door policy. He explained that being accessible to all of his contingents no matter where they live or who they are is important.

Hill said he will continue to fight and defend family values in balanced budgets and lower taxes, which will create jobs in the State of Tennessee.

“The economy is picking up, and businesses are hiring,” he said. “The legislature can create an environment where jobs can be created.”

Last week, Hill held a job fair at Carver Recreation Center in Johnson City, which he rated as a huge success. He said more than 250 people attended the job fair and applied for jobs, and more than 24 employers were in attendance.

“This is the third job fair I have done,” Hill said, adding that he will continue to hold the job fairs if they receive participation from the community.

His motto is to “roll your sleeves up and get involved in the community and do as much as we can.”

A blowout Community Day, which will be held from 4-7 p.m. Saturday, July 12, at Telford Diner, is another example of his community involvement. He said the free event will feature a barbeque, music and cotton candy.

On Tuesday, June 24, Hill and State Rep. Micah Van Huss of Johnson City will also hold a joint telephone town hall beginning at 7 p.m. Listeners will have the opportunity to ask questions, as well as share concerns they may have. The live tele-town is free and open to the public. Those interested can pick up the phone when it rings, which will automatically connect them, or they can call 1-877-229-8493 and dial the access code 16194#.

Hill said citizens should vote for him because he stands up for Washington County and Washington County families.

“As their state representative, I am fighting for them, fighting for their values and second amendment rights and that is why I would be honored and humbled to have their votes and support,” he said.

 

“That event itself was life changing”

The life of one medically retired United States Marine changed forever after coming into contact with the nonprofit organization Wounded Warrior Anglers of America, Inc.

“I believe it’s an outstanding organization that is perfect right now for the pulse of America and the veteran community,” Peter Paskewicz, a Cape Coral, Florida resident, said. “It’s a little niche not found out there.”

Approximately six months ago, Paskewicz paid a visit to his local bait store, which resulted in an invitation to talk to the organization after asking about other veterans in the area that enjoyed fishing. He said he happened to be in the store when Dave Souders, co-founder of the organization, was also there.

“That is basically how I really got connected,” Paskewicz said.

He joined the Marines and served for three years during the first Gulf Wars from 1990 to 1993.

“I was with some very outstanding people and I know that the Marines made a positive influence on my life,” he said. “I wish I could go back. I love it.”

Paskewicz sustained lower extremity injuries, some of which include a lower back injury from a fall and a shattered hip.

He said since he has some physical problems, he wanted to get to know other veterans who liked to fish, a passion he found when he was a youngster.

“I enjoy the environment,” Paskewicz said of why he loves fishing. “I believe we are connected to the water in one way. If the water is healthy, I believe the rest of the environment is healthy.”

Before medically retiring from the service, he said fishing had always been his most private and personal time where he could reflect back on the good in his life, as well as allow all the negative things to fade away.

As a wounded warrior who loves fishing, Wounded Warrior Anglers was a perfect match for this gentleman.

battle of matlachaThe organization helps its warriors by taking them out on the water for a day of fishing, an outing that promotes a friendly and peaceful environment to help warriors heal.

“I think the Wounded Warrior Anglers provides a platform that is easy for people to meet and greet one another,” Paskewicz said.

He said the commonality and disability portion of the organization really brings everything together, making Wounded Warrior Anglers what it is today.

He said after leaving the service, fishing provided a new kind of therapy.

“It made me feel like I am still capable of doing things, still capable of accomplishing goals,” Paskewicz said. “It gives me a sense of achievement.”

Wounded Warrior Anglers holds a few retreats throughout the year that invites wounded warriors and their caregivers to Matlacha, Florida, for a day of relaxation on the water fishing, or at Spa 33, with others who have gone through similar experiences.

“That was a very important day for me and my family,” Paskewicz said of the retreat he attended about two months ago. “I had been struggling with medications and pain for about six and a half years and not feeling very good about fishing or anything.”

Once this wounded warrior received an invitation to his first retreat, it provided him with the freedom to go out fishing, while knowing he was not alone, knowing he was going to be with other wounded warriors.

“That event itself was life changing for me,” he said. “I have a whole new attitude. It was absolutely what I needed.”

That single day of camaraderie, that one day of sharing a love of fishing with others, has kept positive thoughts flowing through Paskewicz.

“I’m very grateful for the Wounded Warriors and I feel strongly that it is something really needed in our communities today for our veterans and community members as well,” he said. “It brings veterans closer to the community and the community closer to the veterans. I think it is an outstanding platform.”

Paskewicz recently volunteered at the organization’s 2nd annual Redfish Poker Fishing Championship, in memory of Sgt. John R. Pestel, last month. He said he provided a helping hand in the morning to set things up and whatever else was needed to show support.

“I was approached by at least 100 people that day, all thanking me for my service,” he said.

Those words touched this Marine.

“It was an honor,” Paskewicz said. “It made me feel proud and glad I served for people like them. That was a very special day in itself also. The civilians got to interact with the veterans and I think it was great

So many memories

With only seven days left as the editor of the Pine Island Eagle, (due to the move Jason and I are making to NE Tennessee), the push to find someone to replace me has come full circle. A few applicants have called me to find out the “scoop” of the paper in the last few days. These phone calls made me realize how much I have grown to like the Pine Island community, as well as the paper that I have worked so hard on week after week.

This sweet gal who recently moved from Rhode Island to Southwest Florida called with a list of questions this afternoon after she talked with Val, the executive editor about the position. Her enthusiasm for the possibility of becoming the new editor was contagious, which made me reflect upon the moment I was offered the job 18 months ago.

As her questions were answered and we got to know each other a little more, my excitement for her grew as she became more excited about the job. Although I do not have a final say in who replaces me, I decided to call Val and share the nice conversation we had on the phone.

It’s amazing how much of an impact you can have on a community through writing. On the flip side, it is amazing how much the community can have an impact on you as well.

A woman who I have grown to know since I started at the Eagle, due to her involvement in one of the groups that raises money for the island, showed me so much support tonight. She came up to me and asked if she could have a hug, which of course I provided. That hug was then followed by many incredibly sweet remarks of what I have done with the Eagle. As she wished me luck in my next endeavors and shared how much she was going to miss me, she had to cut it short because her eyes were swelling with tears and she did not want to cry.

Another sweet moment that I will carry with me forever…

The wonderful thing about that moment is another woman soon picked up on who I was and instantly shared her feelings. She said she stopped reading the paper for a good amount of time because she was not happy with it, which she said changed when I began. A paper she did not go out of her way to pick up now makes her excited every week to go and get, so she can read the news of her community.

This community constantly thanks me for the paper I produce, their paper that they love. There is no need to thank me, writing is my passion, finding the stories and creating something for the community to enjoy is not work. It’s simply what I believe any reporter and editor would want to accomplish if they are given the opportunity to make a paper their own.

Overwhelemed is an understatement of how all these people leave me feeling after they share their thoughts and feelings about the paper, as well as about me.

It will be  bittersweet next Friday as I say goodbye to the community I have grown to know through the many articles I have published. There were countless memories made on this little island, many memories with individuals I would not have met otherwise.

What a journey, what a learning experience, what an incredible memory to take with me as we travel to Tennessee, where I hope to again make an impact on the community in which I work.

I am incredibly fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work in this island community as their editor and transform their newspaper into something I will always be proud of producing.

It’s amazing that all of these emotions rose with the simple phone call from a hopeful reporter who has applied for my position.

What is there not to love about a profession that provides that much emotion, good emotion?

Wow is all I am left to say.