For the first time in a very long time, Ann DeMatteo isn't on the beat today covering Hamden for the New Haven Register.
DeMatteo starts a new job today as the managing editor for the Middletown Press.
It's a promotion for DeMatteo, who first started at the Register right out of college in 1978. Both the Register and the Press are owned by Journal Register Company.
But it's a bittersweet move for DeMatteo, a Hamden native and longtime resident.
"I'm Hamden," she said. "I'm so upset that I'm not going to be writing about it anymore. The town is my heart."
DeMatteo grew up in Hamden, attended Dunbar Hill School, Michael J. Whalen Jr. High School and graduated from Hamden High School, where she wrote for the Dial.
She earned a degree in Journalism from the University of Bridgeport, where she did an internship at the New Haven Register, and never left.
"The only job interview I've ever had was for my internship," she said. On Aug. 14, she marked 34 years with the Register.
Newspapers were a part of her life from very early on, she said.
"I remember coming home from elementary school and reading the paper lying down with my elbows dug into the floor," she said. "It's been a part of my life since i was a kid."
As a member of the Hamden High School Drama Club, she would submit stories to the Register and the Hamden Chronicle, and when a New Haven Journal Courier reporter would cover a Drama Club story, she would pay close attention, DeMatteo said.
"Whenever a Journal Courier reporter came to the school, I was always watching them," she said.
As a second-grader at Dunbar Hill School, she always tried to have the best story in the class paper, printed on the school's ditto machine, she said, and as a seventh-grader at Whalen, when her best friend, who was editor of the school paper, was too busy, she put the paper together, she said.
And at Hamden High, "it was journalism and drama, journalism and drama," she said.
So her roots in both Hamden and journalism run very deep, she said, which makes leaving her beat position so difficult.
""When you cover a town for a long time, you get to know the people and become part of their lives, and I'm going to miss the people and the town's continuing story most," she said. "I've always said that Hamden is the gift that keeps giving."
There are stories that she has covered for years, such as the Memorial Town Hall/Police Department project, the Newhall remediation project and the Farricelli tire pond that are ongoing and that she will miss updating, DeMatteo said.
"I'm going to miss covering the school system the teachers," she said. "Because I know a lot of people, when a story breaks you know the people involved, the cops and the firemen -- it's sad.
"I'm sad to be leaving Hamden," she said, "but I'm looking forward to the opportunity of improving the Middletown Press."
There she will be the managing editor in charge of the day to day operations of the paper, she said. She will have a staff of four reporters and a photographer, she said.
"I'm looking forward to expanding the coverage of central Connecticut," she said. The goal is going to be to improve the coverage in that part of the state."
She will continue to write her New Haven Register column, she said, and it will appear in the Middletown Press and the Torrington Register Citizen, also a JRC newspaper.
"I'm looking forward to my new position," she said, "but Hamden will always be my heart."