Growing up in New York, by way of the South Bronx, aka “The Concrete Jungle” gave me a unique perspective about life.

Being surrounded by crime, drugs and gun play became a normal part of life at a young age. As time continued, I became insensitive to my surroundings but remained diligent and aware of them.

Areas that would be looked upon by visitors or transients as potentially dangerous and life threatening were my daily playground for adventure. But as I came into young adulthood I felt that life had to have more to offer.

I was blessed to have parents that would take my sister and I on brief summer trips to the south where the peace and quiet was actually a silent enemy. It felt threatening and out of place.

As I allowed it to settle within, it challenged the hustle and bustle of the city that I have grown to love. The peace and quiet pulled on me so heavily that I wondered what else was I missing outside of New York City.

While attending a technical college in Manhattan I had this overwhelming urge to just leave. I felt trapped and the need to escape. I went to the recruiting office and joined the United States Air Force. That “great escape” was the most monumental decision of my life.

While serving on active duty, I had the privilege to travel to Germany, Italy, Spain and Korea along with several stateside bases. While in Korea, I took leave and worked for Nike at the 1988 Olympics.

After two enlistments and eight and a half years later, I decided it was time to leave. I departed the Air Force with an honorable discharge along with a wife and a baby boy. Next stop….North Carolina.

Since I have settled in the south, yes the south that pulled on me so many years ago has now become a reality. Since relocating to south I have worn several hats. I served in law enforcement for approximately 10 years, officiated high school sports. I have my own photography business, and I am now a staff and sports writer and photographer for the Bertie Ledger-Advance, The Enterprise, the Chowan Herald and the Perquimans Weekly.

All of my endeavors have come together like the ingredients of well made stromboli. Rich inside and sealed as one entity and ready to serve. I’m looking forward to using my experiences to bring to you the best that these surrounding counties have to offer. Whether it’s sports, local news and events or an artist painting a mural in an alleyway my experiences have taught me to be vigilant of my surroundings, disciplined in my work ethnics and open to see, feel and capture the essence of our surrounding counties.

Andre Alfred is a Staff and Sports Writer for the Chowan Herald and can be reached via email at

Thadd White is Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance and can be reached via email at