Five years later

My most recent posts are more than five years old now. A lot has happened. After working at the Sun Advocate for three years and getting married, I took a job in Vernal, Utah, as editor of the Vernal Express.It was probably the most miserable 15 months of my life (the 21 months I spent in SoCal as a Mormon missionary is a close second, though). I busted my ass in Vernal and worked with a great staff. I did some great journalism and learned a lot. But I never found my place within the community. It was cold (30 days in January of highs below freezing). It was remote (a 3-hour drive from any community bigger than 20,000 people). I was miserable. Heather was miserable. I learned in late June 2008 I was being replaced. My boss had given my job to someone else. I was welcome to stay, at the same pay and benefits. But I butted heads with my boss (another story for another post perhaps) and this was a perfect chance to move on. With 3 weeks before my replacement’s arrival date, Heather and I moved to central Washington, just north of Wenatchee.

Working as editor for the Lake Chelan Mirror was refreshing. I was given free domain to cover three communities totaling about 10,000 resident all together. Aside from my time as a Mormon missionary, this was the first time I had lived long-term outside of Utah. The community was inviting, the work was challenging, and Heather and I loved it there.

But it didn’t last.

Trying to help keep costs down for the small company, I worked 11 months doing the work of two before getting the owners to hire a reporter to work with me. Over the first 7 months of 2010, I encountered several indications that the company I was working for was financially troubled. It seemed every few days we would discover as a staff some bill that had gone unpaid. There were multiple instances with the postage meter. There was the day the uniform provider told us we were getting cut off because the bill was 90-120 days past due. The pressroom was constantly, dangerously close to running out of paper. One day I found out that the owners hadn’t paid our Web hosting fee, which is tantamount to not buying paper and ink.

I had the realization that the owners were just scraping by. When, I wondered, would it be the employees who went unpaid? On my final day, it was exactly that: checks weren’t there on payday.  The owners told me I would get it in the mail. I had nothing to lose, so I stopped working on the newspaper that needed to go to press that night. It took about 2 hours before I had a check in my hands.

I don’t know what will become of my old newspaper. I hope the owners can turn business around. But I couldn’t wait around to find out.

Two days after I quit, my wife and I made a cross-country trek in 4 days across 2,700 miles to upstate New York. We have been here 5 months — so far so good. I work with a great staff at the weekly Genesee Country Express in Dansville, N.Y.

So that brings us up-to-date … well sort of. Obviously, a lot has happened in five years and I’ll be cataloging more of that here, but at least now I have something current. For some of our early adventures since moving to New York, see Heather’s blog.

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