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Tree trunk

The trunk of the tree in front of The Banner-Press, after its 15-plus years of growth. 

This is my last “Letter From the Editor.” I just need to say thank you to everyone who has helped The Banner-Press, our employees, my family and our community these past 15 years.

My departure from the newspaper business included a few twists and turns. Our David City office closed in late January. It was tough to see it go, but the closing was not unexpected. I was soon working at a desk at the Columbus Telegram, helping with the daily Telegram and the weekly papers, The Banner-Press and the Schuyler Sun. I hadn't worked in a daily newsroom for 20 years, so it brought some memories. By early March, however, some things fell into place for Angie and I to move on to new adventures we've been considering for a few years. Priorities have changed.

Somehow, 15 years slipped away, and during that time our kids grew up and started their own lives. And although some weeks seemed longer than others, it was a great experience in David City. I leave with mixed feelings – gratitude and concern – after seeing the newspaper business change, often not of its own accord. No need to go into how technology is changing the world, and how it is changing the way we relate to news and information.

I appreciate having a window into our county that the editor’s desk provides. Even though Butler County, like any place, has lots of room for improvement, this is a great place to live, mostly because of the people who care about it.

It’s just time to say thanks. I can’t begin to list all those difference makers I appreciate. You know who you are.  I'm especially grateful to Sue Bougger and Monica Polivka for being difference makers here at the office, day in and day out. They're the best, and they truly care about this newspaper and this community.

I also have too many "favorites" to list, but I especially enjoyed talking to people who know a lot more than I ever will. 

For the first time in about 10 years, my Sundays and Mondays will be all mine (ours), and I probably won’t need a nap on Tuesday afternoons. I won't mind missing some annual events I've covered every year for 15 years, and when I go to a high school football game, I’ll watch from the top row with popcorn instead of  the sideline, dodging flying linebackers.

I’m leaving the newsroom, but not the word and photography business. I still have the need to create something and tell a story. We'll see where the path leads. I can’t wait for this year's Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska, our eighth, and getting ready for the ride without worrying about the papers before and after the ride. 

That's enough farewell. Now I'll get on the soapbox one last time.

Many of those difference makers we appreciate are looking for help, even replacements. Why not you?  It’s time for more people of all ages and backgrounds to get involved and grow on our strengths in Butler County.

Run for office. Find a need to address or dream to fulfill, then get some friends to help you. Be a difference maker. Give back to your community. You'll be glad you did. For starters, there’s the Butler County Teammates program that has a need for mentors, especially male mentors. Let's put our young people first. They are our future. You can make a big difference, and it doesn't take that much time.

And what about the newspaper? The new team producing The Banner-Press will be learning the landscape. Support the paper, help the new team write the community's story. Send in a news submission or a story tip, or share a photo. Invite a reporter in to visit where you work or the activities you support. It’s time to look forward, not back. They have my best wishes on the newspaper’s new course.

Finally, I'll tell you about my strange last week here. The scene: Our front office windows have been papered for two months. Lately, crews have been ripping out E Street's concrete, using an excavator bucket to break the pavement into desk-sized chunks. The pounding shook the building. Then a backhoe accidentally hit a water line. On my last Monday working here, we had no water.

So here I am, the concrete destroyer is rattling the monitor on my desk, there's no water for coffee or the bathroom, and the front windows are blacked out. And I’m trying to write my final copy for this second home of mine. I thought, “Yes, somebody really wants me outta here.”

Then there's the perspective provided by our sidewalk tree. For 15 years, the tree in front of our office, (a thornless honey locust, we’re guessing) has grown from 12 feet to a 30-foot shade provider on hot summer days. Thanks to the street reconstruction, it was destined for the trash tree pile, so I arranged to take the bottom eight feet of the trunk and have it turned into a Banner-Press memento. 

Steve, the excavator operator, cut the tree down and we carefully loaded the trunk section into my pickup. Then I got some perspective, looking at that trunk from where it met the ground. Although there have been 802 editions of the newspaper since I arrived in 2002, the tree trunk only widened about 8 inches in one direction, six in another. Think about that for a while.

The time passes quickly. We should try to enjoy it.

Thanks again, everyone. Live well.

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