The masthead that appears above the Our Voice column six days a week contains some changes today.
For the first time in a dozen years, my name isn’t listed among the Herald’s editorial board members. Friday was my last day at this newspaper.
It’s difficult to say goodbye to a career that has spanned 32 years, but knowing that a first-rate team of editorial writers — Cecelia Rexus, Shelly Norman and Lori Lancaster — will be filling the opinion pages makes it a little easier to move on.
I started as a reporter at the Herald on June 11, 1982. I know the date because it’s printed on the press pass I was issued that day and still carry in my wallet, even though the laminate is peeling and the young man pictured on the card isn’t recognizable after three decades.
I don’t know how many times I’ve knocked on strangers’ doors and pestered them with questions, but I’ve been invited in for coffee or cookies far more times than I’ve been chased away.
I came to the Herald fresh from the University of Washington, a half-credit shy of earning my journalism degree. Before crossing the Cascades for good, I had lived near or in Seattle for almost 30 years (I was a late bloomer).
One of the first doors I knocked on belonged to longtime Kennewick residents Gene and Gertrude Spaulding. I don’t remember the reason for the interview, but I’ll never forget their hospitality.
They must have noticed the moss on my back or the webbing between my fingers — it takes a year or two on the dry side before those go away — because they were soon asking me how I was enjoying my new community.
The people are great but I miss the rain and trees, I told them. Gene assured me that after a few years in the Mid-Columbia, I’d realize that trees just block the view.
It’s been a pleasure and an honor to work at the Tri-City Herald. There’s no better view of a community than from behind a reporter’s desk at a community newspaper.
I’ve flown an A-4F Skyhawk fighter jet with the Navy’s Blue Angels. Sure, the pilot did most of the flying but he did let me use the stick and take it through an aileron roll somewhere over Pasco.
I rode on one of Tidewater Barge Line’s tugboats from Ice Harbor Dam to the Port of Portland. I’ve met governors and senators and stood with police waiting for an armed standoff to end.
I’ve been to the top of Rattlesnake Mountain with a scientist tracking coyotes and inside a few operating nuclear reactors.
When I covered Hanford for the Herald, I spent a few days with Franklin T. Matthias, the Army colonel in charge of building the world’s first full-scale nuclear reactor and plutonium production facilities during World War II.
Serving as the Herald’s editorial page editor for almost a decade has been my favorite role, providing another unique view of our community. The Herald's editorial pages have focused on the community’s interests for 67 years, informing and encouraging the discussion on ways to make the Mid-Columbia a better place to live and work. I’m honored to have been given a chance to be a part of that tradition.
But it’s the people who put out this newspaper I’ll miss the most. Few people appreciate the personal sacrifices the Herald staff makes to deliver news 365 days a year about the issues and events that affect their lives. Regular meal times are the first thing journalists forgo to pursue their calling.
The finest people I’ve ever met came through the Herald’s newsroom. Their passion for the job is truly inspiring. As journalism undergoes a fundamental transformation in the digital age, the people working to manage that change while continuing to perform a difficult job display a dedication that is even more remarkable.
I’m excited about whatever the future might hold for me, and sad to be leaving a job that I’ve loved for 30 years.
My wife, Betsy, and I have a little house on a hill overlooking Lake Coeur d’ Alene in Northern Idaho, where we’ll spend much of my retirement. It’d be a beautiful view from the deck if it weren’t for the trees, blocking the view.