No matter what path a person travels, at some point the trail has to come to an end. That is where I find myself in November 2017, as I will be leaving The Dalles Chronicle today and heading out on the path of “semi-retirement.”
I have been the government reporter for the Chronicle for nearly 17 months. I know, that’s not very much time, but I’ve been working for community newspapers for much longer. More than 23 years ago — way back in 1994 — I began a career in print journalism that would see me working as an editor, reporter, and photographer. I served four different newspapers in four diverse communities.
My first newspaper job came in September 1994, when I was hired to be the editor of The Enterprise in White Salmon. I never imagined when I started how long I would remain editor there — almost 17 years —and I couldn’t envision the many changes that would impact the newspaper industry since then. It’s almost bizarre to realize that when I started with the Enterprise, we actually used hot wax to paste printed blocks of text onto the pages. There were faint blue lines on those pages to make sure photos and stories were lined up straight; the blue lines showed up when we placed the pages on a light table.
We used black “border tape” to create frames for the photos, X-Acto knives to cut out misspelled or misplaced words and paste in corrected copy, and we developed black and white film in our own darkroom (running color photos in the paper was not even a dream back then). Once the newspapers were “pasted up and camera ready,” I would box up the pages and drive them over to the printing press located in the Hood River News building, because we didn’t have the capability of electronically transmitting files back then.
It was indeed a different era.
Upon leaving The Enterprise in 2011, I worked for two years as a reporter and photographer for the Woodburn Independent, and then served for nearly three years as associate editor of the Hillsboro Tribune.
Over my 23 years in community newspapers, I covered countless city council meetings and public hearings, wildfires, floods (the 1996 flooding in the Gorge was especially memorable), car wrecks, graduation ceremonies, parades, several murder cases, an Amtrak derailment, snowstorms, election campaigns, and business happenings.
I rode with police officers on duty; flew in a B-17 with World War II veterans; met with senators, governors, mayors, and police chiefs; penned features on the triumphs and tragedies of local individuals; and wrote editorials on a variety of local and sometimes national topics.
In June of 2016, I joined the staff of The Dalles Chronicle. I got to be here through last year’s rough and crazy winter, through the smoky Eagle Creek fires of September, and for the “Great Eclipse.”
I wrote feature stories about numerous businesses and individuals throughout the community. I was here to witness and report on the rebirth of the Granada Theater and the Cascade Square Shopping Center, and even covered some amazing Dufur Rangers football games when colleague Ray Rodriguez was on vacation. It has been a wild and rewarding ride.
I’ve valued and appreciated working with editor RaeLynn Ricarte, new publisher Chelsea Marr, and all the diligent and devoted staff here at the Chronicle, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know a variety of people in this community.
Virtually everyone I’ve met here seems to have one key characteristic in common – they want to make The Dalles a better place.
Sure, people sometimes disagree about what the best approach might be, but I’ve encountered only people who care. Mayor Steve Lawrence, members of the city council, the staff of The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Wasco County Commissioners, the many dedicated business owners I’ve interviewed — all seem to have the best interests of the community at heart.
I feel very blessed to have been able to serve in this role, and I have a strong affection for The Dalles community. Yet the calendar just keeps on turning, and I feel it’s time for me to take a different direction, pursue some fresh opportunities, and enjoy more time outdoors in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge.
It has been a very fascinating and fulfilling career, and sometimes I can’t believe nearly a quarter-century has gone by so fast.
In closing, I just want to say “thank you” to the entire community. Covering The Dalles has been great.