When I joined The Greater New Milford Spectrum staff in spring of 2009, I knew I had big shoes to fill.

Lynda Wellman had been the reporting voice of the paper since its inception in 1998. As the paper's principal reporter, she had carved out a place in the minds and hearts of Spectrum readers.

Known for her impeccable accuracy and finely tuned ear for local news, Lynda had justly won the community's respect.

"How does this Susan Tuz think she can meet the bar Lynda has set?" I was sure many readers wondered.

There was no doubt Lynda's and my style of writing and news presentation were different. But I relied on my skills and past experience to carry me through.

I had covered the town in 1998 and 1999 for The New Milford Times. I was a New Milford native, a New Milford High School Class of 1967 graduate.

I had been a staff writer for The Spectrum's sister paper, The News-Times, since 2000. And I came in with a bachelor of arts degree in English.

Coming to The Spectrum staff was, in a way, a return home.

Having grown up in Gaylordsville with a father who built and renovated many of the homes along Lake Waramaug, I knew both this and the Washington/New Preston area well.

Familiar names and faces also greeted me as I covered news in Bridgewater, Roxbury, Sherman and Kent. In Warren, I was often met with "Are you related to Joe Tuz?" My father's reputation of fairness and fine craftsmanship stood me well. And then there were Lynda and my News-Times colleague, Nanci Hutson -- both ever there to fill me in on background and reflect on my take on news as it happened.

Nanci matches Lynda, heart and soul, in her love for New Milford.

With the two of them to buoy me, I learned The Spectrum ropes and, too, became a Spectrum voice.