To completely misquote Mark Twain (most people do anyway), rumors of my departure are not exaggerated. It's true -- as of next week, I will no longer be in the newspaper business. I'm walking off into the woods to join the staff of an environmental education facility in Rhode Island.

While I am sad that I will no longer be a part of Fairfield news, I'm even sadder to be leaving the town I've called home for the last 14 years. In fact, I've been putting off writing this editorial until the absolute last minute because I haven't really wanted to admit that I'm leaving--and I'm having a hard time putting into words the way I feel about this town.

I love Fairfield -- it's my favorite place in the world, and if I could commute to my new job, I'd happily stay right where I am. But the trek to Rhode Island is just a little too much to do every day. (Secondly, as far as I could find, similar jobs just aren't available around here.)

So farewell, Fairfield. Farewell to my almost daily trips to The Pantry for lunch (and sometimes even breakfast). Farewell to the gorgeous library and its supportive staff -- from providing space for meetings with politicians to allowing last-minute photo ops for the paper, you have been a great help to the paper and to me.

Farewell to the Fairfield Museum and History Center -- that's one of the towns' hidden treasures, and I hope more people will become aware of the diligent work its organizers do to bring the past into our present-day lives.

Farewell to the beaches, though truth be told I'm rarely there. Farewell to Lake Mohegan, downtown shopping and fine dining. (I don't think I can stress enough that I will be literally living in the woods.)

So long, Sacred Heart (my alma mater) and Fairfield University (with its Frisbee golf course).

I will truly miss Fairfield -- in my opinion, if you are going to live in a suburban community, this town has just the right mix of open space, retail and residential properties.

Farewell to the kind people of Fairfield who have made that part of my job a joy. Though I've lived in town for the last 14 years, I never got to know it as well as I have in the last year (and three months), and I'm grateful for the tremendous support I've received from the community in that short time.

Many of you are still struggling to keep up with the major staffing changes that took place here in April 2009, and I apologize if I've set anyone's progress back. However, I'm leaving you in excellent hands.

My replacement, Gary Jeanfaivre, is Fairfield born and raised. His knowledge of this community and its residents far surpasses mine, as does his passion for local journalism. He's a true newspaper man, but with ethics and integrity, too. To say that he is competent would be a gross understatement. You're in very good hands.

So here's the part where I put in a shameless personal plug. In this section you'll seen an op-ed written by my friend Louis Elneus, president of Haiti Lumiere de Demain. I hope you'll read it and get familiar with the instant impact the organization has on Haitian communities (as opposed to the larger organizations, which are tangled in red tape and have yet to distribute most of the funds they've raised to help earthquake victims).

In the coming weeks a few of my friends will be traveling to Haiti to help Louis bring books and other supplies to some rural Haitian communities. We'll be hosting a fundraiser on Tuesday, July 20, at Brennan's Shebeen, 2652 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport. There's an optional $15 cover at the door, which serves as our fundraising. There will be drink specials and food, plus music and performances by local artists.

I know in the past six months so many of you have made donations in support of Haiti relief, and that's very much appreciated. However, giving even a few dollars to Haiti Lumiere de Demain is your chance to see your donation instantly go to work.

If you can't make it to our fundraiser on Tuesday, please consider visiting to make a donation (and to see some of the great stuff it has been doing). You can also mail a check to the organization: Haiti Lumiere de Demain, PO Box 1114, Fairfield, CT 06825 -- please write "Fallon" in the memo line.