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A sort-of goodbye

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By Kevin Denke

    I’m not a big fan of goodbyes.
Given the chance, I’d rather sneak out a back door and avoid the fuss.
    I’ve been told this isn’t one of those times and maybe a little something more formal is in order.
    So here goes.
    I came to these papers in late 2002 as a green, fresh-out-of college reporter ready to change the world one byline at a time.
    I had a brand new car. I wasn’t married. I didn’t have children. I didn’t know a thing about the communities I was assigned to cover.
    I leave this week with an older but dependable car. My wife and I just celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary. We will welcome our fourth child this summer. I know more about the communities our papers cover than I could never imagine and, perhaps, even just a little more than I need to know.
    You have been a second family to me. You’ve allowed me to grow. You’ve shared in my successes. You’ve probably groaned, just like I have, at more than a few of my mistakes.
    But you’ve always supported me. Even when you’ve downright disagreed with me or the paper, it’s been respectful. I’ve always felt the warm embrace of this community.
    I’d like to think it’s just because those are the kind of people who live in our communities: warm, caring, genuine people that I’ve seen rush to the aid of others time and time again.
    And I also like to think it’s because this has never been about me. It’s been about you, your lives, your stories, and the events in this community that impact you.
    I will always be awed by the faith and trust that you placed in me to tell those stories. I have been honored to be welcomed into your homes, your businesses and your lives.
    The fate of print journalism is debated on a daily basis. It’s often with the tone of an epitaph, heralding a time when folks actually had the time to sit down and read the paper.
    I can identify with many of the knocks on journalism in general today. Too much bad news? Probably. Too sensationalistic? Yeah, sometimes.
    But journalism, and especially community journalism, still has the ability to compel, to inform and to connect our community together.
    Maybe this is a little easier because this isn’t a true goodbye. It’s a fond farewell to my time at the paper. But I’m excited that I’ll get to remain in a community that I’ve grown to love.
    The exuberance and uncertainty of life comes in the fact that we don’t know what lies around the next corner for us.
    I could have never imagined the terrific journey that awaited me when I came to work here more than 9 years ago.
    Thank you for this wonderful ride. We’ll see you down the road.