I've started writing this column three times. There's no easy way to do it. There's not much that I can say to alleviate the sadness of this loss. My first job was delivering a newspaper that no longer exists. I still feel a pang when I think of it.
But that won't do for a farewell column. Instead let me focus on my gratitude and memories.
Before I started writing for the News-Chronicle, I'd never covered local government. I was incredibly nervous as I rode up to my first Two Harbors City Council meeting with Jimmy Lovrien. As we sat through the meeting and I stared at the impressively large agenda packet, I asked "How do you separate what's important to write about versus what's standard?"
"Start by looking at the new business items," Jimmy said. "Eventually, it'll become easier."
Jamey Macolmb said the same thing when I took over covering the Lake Superior School Board. They were both right, it became second nature within a month or two. While I didn't expect to cover all the local meetings by the end of my time here, I was grateful for the opportunity to learn and observe the different machinations of each. As I got to know each of the councils and boards, they also got to know me a bit. I became a, hopefully mostly friendly, expected presence in the back of the rooms on Mondays and Tuesdays. I'll miss seeing the well-known faces every week.
I'll miss the being at the community celebrations as well. From graduation weekend to the middle of August, if felt like I was always off to cover a race, a parade, a fair, an art festival, a ukulele carnival or a lutefisk toss. Attending Bay Days and Heritage Days felt like going to my own hometown celebrations, and I couldn't wait to share photos from each.
When thinking back over my time with the paper, I have many favorite stories. But there is one I feel a particular attachment to: the honking tree anniversary. On my first day at the Chronicle, my editor picked up the office's honking tree medallion and joked that I had to swear my allegiance to it. The story of a community celebrated tree being sadly and mysteriously cut down struck a particular chord with me. When it was time to mention the 10 year anniversary since the fateful chop, I wanted to do something.
Looking back at stories written at the time, I noticed many mentioned the wood would be used to create a memorial. But no memorial had emerged and no one seemed to know where the wood had gone. How could all that wood just disappear?
When I first went to press with the story, I didn't have an answer. That Thursday I felt a little defeated as I made my way to KTWH for the weekly News-Chronicle preview recording session. After recording, Tom Koehler suggested I call a wood carver to see if he had any ideas. He did. The next day I was standing in John Gage's garage staring at the pile of wood stacked neatly against the back wall. It was incredibly satisfying to solve the mystery.
Speaking of the radio, I'm grateful for that opportunity as well. Thank you to Mychele Anderson and Tom for your friendliness and help each week. It was fun to spend time in the studio talking with you and learning a bit about the medium.
Thank you to the Lake County Historical Society for the chance to leaf through the archives to find items for Lake County Past. It was incredibly educational and enjoyable.
Thank you to my fellow columnists and faith writers for your monthly contributions. And thank you to the libraries for the many story ideas and weekly updates. Thank you to the Two Harbors Police Department and Lake County Sheriff's Office for the weekly reports.
Thank you to everyone who was willing to share their stories with me and with our readers.
Thank you to anyone reading this column. And to those who reached out to ask about my well-being following the announcement about the end of publication. I will stay on at the Duluth News Tribune newsroom staff as a night general assignment reporter. It will be another learning experience and period of adjustment. But hopefully Jimmy and Jamey's words of wisdom from the start of my time with the Chronicle will apply there as well: "Eventually, it will become easier."
Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle. She can be reached at 218-830-2186 or firstname.lastname@example.org.