Vail Daily column: Thanks for everything
Let’s call this the gratitude column.
I know, I know. How many goodbye pieces is this fool going to write anyway? You’re not the only one to think this, believe me. During one of my last meetings, someone, actually my boss, got up and wrote on a white board: “Rogers, you can leave at any time.” He’s a Southern gentleman and perhaps too well-mannered to add what he really was thinking: “Please, for the love of God.” I might have been acting up; you know, saying what I think.
But just one more, I promise. Too many of you have meant too much to me to let it go quite yet. This does feel more like goodbye than the last time I left.
I turned down an opportunity to transfer to Gardnerville, Nevada, in late 2007. Thought it through and landed at staying put. A higher up — I only joke calling them overlords — convinced me to think again. I’m grateful he did, in the way one thing leads to another.
I wouldn’t have had the chance to rival the legendary Bob Brown’s tenure as publisher of the Vail Daily these past seven years without the sojourn out west. I wouldn’t have the opportunity now in Grass Valley, either.
The dirty secret about publishers is they’re only as good as their managers and staff. People often ask me, “What the heck does a publisher do anyway?” And that’s not just my colleagues.
There are some high-minded, important-sounding answers. But the simple truth is the publisher, as the head of the paper, pretty much wrings his or her hands at whatever the managers and their folks are doing. And then gets way too much credit for their fine work, if we’re lucky.
So you can guess at my gratitude to the Vail Daily crew. They can be a little, um, unconventional. But I think they are the best in the biz, particularly in these times. Some I’ve worked with for most of these past 17 years. That’s a lot of thick and thin we’ve been through together, in boom and in bust.
I blame, er, credit the Vail Leadership Institute, which has evolved into the Vail Centre, for keeping that lifelong learning and challenging oneself thing burning in me. I don’t see myself as a wind-down, settling kind of guy, but the folks I’ve gotten to know in my roundtable discussions over the years have really shown what’s possible and helped make me hungry for my next professional challenge.
The coolest, if most humbling, experience came from joining a writers group in Glenwood Springs. Every other Thursday they’ve helped me learn fiction writing, the highest of all the arts. Helps with the far rougher carpentry we call journalism, too. What I didn’t count on was how fun these sessions would be (when free of my work being dissected, though I’m deeply grateful for it).
Most fun is the group at noon basketball in the gym connecting Eagle Valley Elementary and Middle schools. These mostly guys compete hard and leave it on the court like nowhere else I’ve played. The mental break has become as important to me as the sport. Of course, I’m aging toward the grayer end of this crowd, though there remain a few older and still better players than me. (Dammit.)
Not as much fun in the ha-ha sense, at least while conducting business, but community service boards and groups I’ve participated in over the years have given me that much more of a sense of optimism about humanity in general and this valley in particular. We’re rich in smart, active people who are all about contribution. This first-hand knowledge can only be good for us professional skeptics who inhabit newsrooms.
I’ve never fit more hand-in-glove with a community than this one. This probably comes from our shared mindset in choosing to live here. The valley isn’t for everyone. We know that. But something connects those of us who decided to come here for pretty similar reasons and settled in.
Well, settled at least for a time in my case, a good decade and a half or so. All at once I hate leaving and I’m eager for our next life, where a new adventure and even deeper ties in the region where my wife and I began marriage, parenthood and this career await.
Of course, I can just see my son, who works in Truckee for the same company, and his wife perking their ears for openings at the Vail Daily now that nepotism no longer fences him out.
In this worst case, I’ll be grateful for the extra incentive to visit.
Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 970-748-2920.