Tamara Miller: Vail, you’ve taught me well | VailDaily.com

Tamara Miller: Vail, you’ve taught me well

I’ll never say I’ll never come back to Vail. I made that mistake seven years ago, when I left the Vail Daily and the Vail Valley in 2001 to live and work in California.

My husband and I returned in 2004, essentially asked for our old jobs back, and I had to eat my words.

But this time really feels like I’m leaving Vail for good. My husband is making a shift in careers and the birth of our daughter in February has me thinking I wouldn’t mind stepping away from the demands of a daily newsroom for awhile.

So today is my last day with the Vail Daily. Next week, we head to Seattle, where housing really isn’t much cheaper than it is here, but there’s lots of public transit, better wages, mountains to the east and water to the west and somehow we think we can make a go of just living on one income for awhile.

I’ll try to start freelance writing, something I’ve long wanted to do but never had the guts to try in a place where two incomes are needed to survive. We’ll rent a little house in trendy, north Seattle, and I’m eager to reconnect with a few of our former Vail Valley friends who moved to Rain City a few years ago.

In the meantime, we’re trying to rent out our three-bedroom Eagle townhouse. Anyone interested?

We have much to look forward to, but in the past few days I’ve overwhelming realized how much I’m going to miss this place. It hasn’t helped that the fall color was the best I’ve seen in years, that since becoming a mom, I’ve become acquainted with a group of women I would love to get to know better, and that my normally cynical, teasing co-workers have lately become a bit sentimental on me.

Those of us who have been at the Vail Daily for awhile will tell you that we have very special readers here. Smart, thoughtful and demanding. Our readers appreciate it when we’ve done a good job and are quick to let us know when we haven’t.

You are always running into someone you’ve interviewed. And if you’ve made a mistake, and you can count on hearing about it. Fail to dig a bit deeper on a story, and you’ll get a call. Forget that it’s readers you are writing for ” not sources ” and your stories will quickly be considered irrelevant.

Come to the wrong conclusion in a column or editorial and you’ll be taken to task for it for months.

You have made me accountable for errors, misunderstandings and uneducated judgments. You’ve kept me honest. You have reminded me the power of the press must be handled responsibly and ethically. And I want to thank you.

I want to thank Jon Asper, the chief of the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District. I met Jon-Jon, as so many call him, on my second day at the Vail Daily, back in 1999, when I was an extremely green, naive and overly confident 22-year-old reporter. I messed up a few details in a story I did about a gas leak, and by the time I got into work the next day, there was a terse voice mail from Jon-Jon waiting for me.

I learned then how important it was for me to get things right in my stories, how to sweat the little stuff because even the little stuff is a big deal to someone. Now as an editor, I chuckle a bit when a new reporter has his or her first encounter with Jon-Jon. I know he will teach them well.

I want to thank Willy Powell, the Eagle town manager, who somehow found the patience to endure my incessant questions and pleas for explanations when covering stories about development and land use. And I want to thank all the residents who live up Brush Creek for helping me understand the real, serious impact of those seemingly boring land-use hearings.

I want to thank Tom Stone, Arn Menconi and Peter Runyon, who served together on the Board of County Commissioners. These three, very different men all taught me how vital it was to be fair, balanced and thorough in my reporting. And while they probably didn’t mean to, they taught me it was OK to make them mad from time to time, as long as I got the story right.

I want to thank all those readers who let me know when I came to the wrong conclusion in an editorial or column. Even if you didn’t change my mind, you made me think a little more deliberately about my decisions.

I want to thank everyone who ever took the time to write a letter to the editor.

I want to thank each of our columnists, especially those of you who called and complained whenever I tweaked what you wrote to make it adhere to the newspaper’s industry’s beloved “AP style.” You taught me that the commentary page is the one place where everyday citizens should be able to say what they want, however way (almost) they want, AP style be damned.

I will miss this paper’s ever-evolving staff, those who are new and those who have been around so long it seems they will never leave. I’m proud of how hard my co-workers work each day to make the Vail Daily the kind of paper this community deserves and how they understand they can always do better.

Lastly, I will miss you, Vail Daily readers. You have taught me so much. Including never to say never. So I’ll leave it to see you later, even if just to visit.

Opinion Editor Tamara Miller’s last day with the Vail Daily is today. Associate Publisher Don Rogers will be taking over the Commentary section. He can be reached at drogers@vaildaily.com.

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