Writing my last columns for the newspaper I owned for 12 years, then operated for another five, I've started to think about what in the heck I've covered for the past 17 years.
Most of it was pretty standard small-town newspaper stuff - babies being born, and pictures of sports and new businesses and someone's champion vegetables. People died, preferably at an old age, but all too often, my staff and I had to cover the death of a young person, and that always saddened our hearts. But it was the joy of sharing happy times that made up for that. Even though Carole McWilliams and I covered more meetings than we care to remember - especially Carole - it was going to Bayfield's Fourth of July, San Ignacio Fiesta, and events in Vallecito, Allison and Arboles that made working for a newspaper so much fun, and truly, it was great sharing stories and events with you. As Carole often said, working at a newspaper beat having a real job any old day.
Over the years, people have asked - quite seriously, I might add - if I ever made up stories.
I have always answered with complete honestly that I couldn't make up half of the stuff I write about. Truth is definitely stranger than fiction, at least in my experience.
From the murder of Dylan Redwine to kidnappings and bank robberies, we covered as much news as we were able to. There were various controversies over the years involving town boards, fire districts, law agencies and school boards. Right now it's a bit of a blur. But after the office closes, Carole and I are planning to sort through our old newspapers, and I know I'll be reading old articles and saying, "How in the heck did I forget about that?"
Our sports coverage was quite extensive, in large part to the never-ending zeal of Joel Priest. From Bayfield's passion for football to Ignacio's prowess on the basketball court, it always happened, for real, right here in the Pine River Valley, and across the state and in New Mexico and Utah, and he was there to cover it. I'm glad he'll be able to carry on his coverage in the pages of the Durango Herald.
Next week, I'll be putting together the final print edition of the Pine River Times. If you've ever meant to submit a letter to the editor, or send me a photo to share with Times readers, this is your last chance to be in the wonderful printed pages that I love. After this, the Times will continue on its web page and Facebook page, and will be a part of the Herald's Friday coverage.
I still prefer print because it smells good, and the ink smudges on your fingers, and you can cut out a picture of your kid or your grandparents and stick it on the refrigerator. But I guess I'm showing my age. I'm trying not to be too mournful as I move onto the next adventure in my life. Thank you all for the words of encouragement over the years, and the hugs, and the always-welcome plates of cookies. Even the occasional complaint or angry phone call often provided a lesson to learn, as well.
Thanks for reading.