Reaching the end of the map

Published 10:59 am Thursday, February 25, 2016

The search for buried treasure is often an emotional journey.

We have heard the stories time and time again. Jim Hawkins gets caught up with Long John Silver in search of buried treasure in Robert Louis Stephenson’s “Treasure Island.” The Goonies go on a journey to find hidden treasure while trying to save the home of two brothers. Indiana Jones searches for Ark of the Covenant, and Ben Gates searches for a cave full of historic gems in “National Treasure.”

Eyes on the prize, the key characters in all of these tales are determined to reach the end of the map with the goal of uncovering some treasure or another. Clues lead to clues that lead to more clues, and while the hunt is on, it seems the end may never come.

Tensions run high as these adventurers reach roadblocks and the pressure of a ticking time clock often makes the hunt even more stressful.

But eventually, the treasure is always found, and the taxing emotional journey seems worthwhile as hunters uncover the buried treasure.

Earlier this week, our staff got to open its own treasure chest. Holding the fruits of their labor in their hands, our team came to the same realization as those storybook characters: The hard work was all worth it.

When we began working on Horizons almost five months ago, I hung a treasure map up in the newsroom to track the progress to our goal. For four months, our staff worked its way to the end of the map, doing extra interviews, taking extra photos and writing extra stories.

Like the traditional story line, we hit some roadblocks and were up against deadline pressures, but in the end, we reached our goal.

Although Horizons seems like its own treasure to us, our biggest publication of the year is more of a treasure chest than the treasure itself. The real prizes are inside.

Inside our treasure chest, you won’t find money or diamonds or other physical extravagancies, but your findings will be every bit as valuable.

On our journey, our team unveiled treasures all along the way. We talked to countless people who make our communities shine, dug deep into the history of some of our region’s most prized possessions and showcased valuable businesses. We were able to look at southwest Michigan in an entirely new light to learn so much about the area, and in turn offer you, our readers, the same opportunity.

Today, we invite you to join us in celebrating the many treasures we have uncovered on our journey. Inside your newspaper today, you’ll find a copy of the 35th annual Horizons. We truly believe this is one of our best publications yet.

Like Indiana Jones, John Hawkins and all the other famous treasure hunters, our staff worked hard to reach the end of the map, and we’re excited to share the treasures we found.


Ambrosia Neldon is the managing editor at Leader Publications. She can be reached by phone at (269) 687-7713, or by email at