So long, and thanks for all the fish!
I always thought I would steal this line from Douglas Adams when I was writing my retirement column. It's the title of one of his books in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. But sometimes, life laughs while we make plans, so I'm using it a little earlier than I expected.
Oh well, after a lucrative career in journalism and owning a newspaper, I'll never be able to retire anyway. In the meantime, I've been looking back on 18 years of covering the Pine River Valley, and it has been a wonderful run. I can't thank all of you enough for letting me share your stories and your lives on our pages, and it was an honor to run your community newspaper for so many years. I loved talking with you about the best moments in your life, and I cried with you when we were at our low points. When I had to cover a felony or write about a death in our tight-knit community, I tried to be as accurate and careful as I could be. There were plenty of mistakes I made, but I hope you all know it was never intentional.
If I listed everyone I need to thank, this column would be a page long, so please forgive me as I've shortened the list.
First, I learned so much from Carole McWilliams, our reporter of 30 years. She covered every story I assigned to her, attended more town board and school board meetings than anyone ever, and is the most accurate reporter I know. She was also exceedingly patient with her scatter-brained boss.
Ann McCoy owned the Times from 1987 until my husband and I purchased it from her in 2002, and I know how hard she worked to keep a community newspaper operating!
Staff members came and went over the years, but Rachel Davenport, Louetta Phelps, Andrew Mangold, Bob Anderson, Sarah Silvernail, Allie Mifflin, and our late friend Denise Hess were huge assets to our little organization. Joel Priest's indefatigable coverage of sports is memorable, and I'm glad readers will still see his work in The Durango Herald.
A local newspaper doesn't operate on fairy dust. The local advertisers who ran those ads every week kept the Times afloat for many years. The ones I consistently counted on - and truly appreciate - are Southwest Ag, Sky Ute Casino, The Patio, Associates Group, Dale Willbanks of American Family Insurance, and Farmers Fresh Market. Others who were kind enough not to slam the door in my face when I made sales calls were Lewis True Value Mercantile, Basin Coop, Mini Merc, Bayfield Realty, and lots of others. Thank you all.
Thank you to everyone who subscribed or bought a copy of the paper every week. That was important for supporting the Times, as well. And for every "atta girl" and "good job" we received at the grocery store or gas station, that was appreciated, too.
I have done the best I could in the past month wrapping up the final print editions of the Times. I'm sorry if I didn't get to cover your story.
I wish the best of luck to the future reporters who are lucky enough to come write and take photographs in this beautiful mountain valley that will always hold a special place in my heart. To Michelle, Scotty and Odette at Ballantine Communications, you are the best, and to my newsroom cohorts, it was always fun to hang out with a bunch of bright and funny smart-aleck reporters and copy editors - keep up the good work.
Finally, to my husband, who delivered newspapers every Friday and sold ads for 12 years, and for my kids, who didn't always have mom at home getting dinner on the table when she was out working, thank you for putting up with my newspaper habit. You made a lot of sacrifices over the years, and I appreciate it.
But what grand adventures we had, as well! As Carole often said, working at a newspaper was always better than having a real job.
My mom is always my biggest backer, and she subscribed to the Times for a long time!
Please keep in touch, and thanks for reading.