“You’re family, Charlie.”
That was Lynn Toller’s reaction when I told her I was leaving the News-Argus to take a position with the Lewistown Chamber of Commerce.
She gave me her sad puppy face. Those of you who know her have probably seen it and know she’s perfected it with help from her cockapoo, Sadie Sue.
In November Lynn celebrates 40 years with the News-Argus. That makes my eight years seem like no time at all.
Reflecting on that eight years, it’s amazing to think of how much has changed since I started in April of 2012. I came in not knowing anyone in this town. I’d visited once and hiked the Lewistown Overlook trail, hopped around Main Street and saw the town’s charm and potential. At the time I was a reporter in Glendive. Knowing the News-Argus was part of the same company (Yellowstone Newspapers) I kept the destination in mind.
That was a good idea.
I didn’t know what my goal was when I first clocked in, but the experience has far exceeded any expectations, whatever they may have been.
The community has embraced me and taught me so much. It’s amazing what you can learn from people when you set your intention to listen, and I’ve enjoyed hearing stories from many different walks of life.
There have been many changes in the office through the years. Editor Deb Hill and I have worked with six different reporters, three different sports editors and five different graphic designers. We’ve weathered many storms and overcome a lot of adversity together, and I’m proud to say we’ve been rewarded for it by winning our division’s coveted “General Excellence” award three years in a row.
“Are you sad?” Lynn asked me the other day, giving me the sad puppy face again.
“Yes,” I said.
“You’ll come and see us, won’t you?”
I’ll miss working with Deb, Lynn, publisher Jacques Rutten and the rest of the gang. There are many fun memories, many of which are inside jokes that are hard to relay here without using up much of my column space for context. We’ve shared a lot of laughs. Believe it or not the newsroom meetings were almost always fun.
It’s never easy to leave a crew you enjoy, but it’s even harder to leave a community you love, so I’m staying put with my wonderful wife, Kari, who I met at an open mic night at the Rising Trout Café shortly after moving here. We’ve been through it all together and I’m continually grateful for encouragement and support.
This will be a big change, but change can be good. It’s not something to fear or avoid. It can be trying, but it’s worth it, because you learn about yourself every time you try something new, and that’s what I’m ready to do here. It will be an interesting adventure at the Chamber and I look forward to working with new director Jo McCauley.
Nevertheless, there is much I will miss about sharing the stories of Central Montana. It’s been a pleasure to sit down and learn about your lives and I’m grateful for those times we’ve had together. Thanks for your trust, for your openness and for making this a wonderful place to live.
This is not the end – it just changes our relationship, and I look forward to seeing you around because, like Lynn said to me, I consider you all family, as well.
(as published in the Lewistown News-Argus June 6, 2020)