Suite 6 at 201 East Main Street in Floyd sits empty today, vacated by the studio and gallery once known as Blue Ridge Muse. Amy and I, along with the help of good friend Mark Warren, finished packing up the last items and hauled them home, leaving behind two years of hope, memories and dreams.

We appreciate the condolences sent along by many readers, the friends who dropped by during the final days to say goodbye and to say how sorry they were to see us close. The comments and expressions of sorrow are very much appreciated.

Some in Floyd have offered varied opinions on why Muse didn’t make it as a business. It’s the economy, some said. Others suggest Floyd simply can’t support the number of businesses that struggle for attention. Still others suggest the time is not right but may be in future years.

One local businessman had another explanation: “You’re too controversial for retail,” he said. “You can’t make people mad and expect them to come in and buy things.”

If that is true, then so be it. I’m a passionate man, driven by strong beliefs and what some call an old-fashioned, even arcane, since of justice. I expect our elected officials to be honest, our governments to be open and spend our tax dollars fairly. I have this traditional notion that men and women of principle should conduct themselves with integrity, be they members of local, state or national governing bodies. As both a journalist and a citizen, I see things in black and white. Grey areas are not an option.

I’ve made many mistakes in my life. As both a recovering alcoholic and a human being, I struggle every day to come to grips with my failings and weaknesses. I neither claim perfection or believe it possible. All I can do is try to be the best person I can and face my shortcomings.

Our nation stands at a crossroads — both morally and historically. So does Floyd and Floyd County. When greed overtakes integrity, nobody wins. When hidden agendas replace open and honest government, everyone suffers.

Blue Ridge Muse the studio is gone but Blue Ridge Muse the web site continues. The lights may be out but the fire that burns in my belly is as bright and strong as ever.

I’ve never measured a person by the thickness of their wallet but by the depth of their soul. Those who choose to sell their integrity for money are doomed by the shallowness of their greed.

I’d rather be a poor man of principle than a rich one without a conscience.