Loosening my grip on this community
Nearly nine years, and almost 500 issues of the New Richmond News, since becoming editor, I'm moving on to new endeavors.
My wife, Julie, has been working at a new job in Colorado Springs, Col., for the past four months and she has decided that it's time for me to join her. She works for "Thriving Family" magazine (part of the Focus on the Family publications arm) as an editor and loves the job.
So I'm heading west on Saturday, ready to tackle a new adventure in work and family lifestyle.
The long goodbye to New Richmond and the wonderful readers of the News began several months ago when I announced my intention to leave my post. The kind words that people have shared with me since then have been both humbling and gratifying.
In my final days in this community, I've been thinking back to my first week on the job in 2004. One of the first things I covered was the ribbon cutting of the new addition to the New Richmond YMCA complex.
Assembled were a collection of community leaders who would later become well known to me. Their enthusiasm toward the accomplishments of the community, as well as their hopes for a bright future, were on full display that evening.
Fast forward a few years, and the whole YMCA partnership had evaporated and the path forward was more than a bit confusing.
Folks in other communities faced with a similar circumstance may have shuttered the fitness and recreation center. That didn't happen here. Instead, community leaders pulled together and worked out a plan to save the important facility. Not only that, they came up with a plan to improve the operation.
Since then, The Centre has thrived and serves as a community gathering place that is full of activity most hours of the day.
The Centre, of course, is not the only example of New Richmond's can-do attitude.
When community acrimony was at its height in the mid-2000s, local leaders didn't sit back and let New Richmond rip itself apart. Instead, the community contracted with consultant Patrick Overton to help guide us all through a process of healing. He emphasized civil discourse, and encouraged broad conversations to get everyone talking in positive ways.
The results have been astounding. From the boundary agreement process to the Leadership Trust Initiative program, the Front Porch Project has had a huge and positive impact on this community.
As I leave, I feel good about the role I played in informing the public and encouraging buy-in from members of the community during these challenging times. In the end, my greatest hope is that I was one who helped carry on the positive vibe that makes New Richmond so unique.
As a journalist, my goal has always been to be a true mirror. My job was to fairly reflect what was happening in the community and not distort the picture like a funhouse mirror might. I'm sure I didn't succeed every time, but it was not for a lack of trying.
I will miss this community, and the people who make it tick. My hope is that you never lose sight of the positive path that has been laid out in front of you.