After well over 1,000 stories, talking to hundreds of local residents, three and a half years and about 185 issues of the Free Press, I’m leaving Black Press Media.
My family and I moved back to the Cariboo (150 Mile House) to live closer to relatives and on my inlaws’ ranch. This has meant quite a lot of commuting over the years: somewhere in the range of 1,500 to 2,000 hours. With young children that has become a bit too much and, consequently, I’ve taken a job closer to home.
During my time at the Free Press, we’ve lived through a lot of extreme events from the 2017 wildfires to mill closures, COVID-19 and mudslides. We’ve also covered a lot of fantastic community stories from a 96-year-old lady climbing the Lone Butte to a man rescuing a cat from a tree. Furthermore, I’ve been privy to some absolutely unbelievable stories such as a squirrel electrocuting itself on a transformer on a power pole, catching fire, falling to the ground and sparking a grass fire.
I’ve made some mistakes (it’s recently repeatedly been pointed out to me it’s spelled “meow”), I’ve probably run a few letters I wish I hadn’t and a few editorials I don’t fully stand behind: the opinion pages remain my least favourite. But, we’ve also produced some special issues, sections and written some stories that I’m still quite proud of, including Fire Fight, the Log Rush, Prime Time, multiple visitor guides, Christmas issues and last week’s New Beginnings and have won three Canadian Community Newspaper Awards and a Jack Webster on the editorial side.
There are a few stories left untold, some because there wasn’t enough evidence to tell the story, some due to personal changes of heart and some simply due to bad timing: someone supposedly “kidnapped” a real beaver from the Cariboo Mall parking lot and released it into Bridge Creek which we were looking into on July 6, 2017 (but remained untold because of the outbreak of the Gustafsen fire). For those stories that might still be able to be told, a top-notch editor is taking my place.
I certainly won’t be a stranger and you might well see me in local stores or restaurants (#shoplocal) and will be keeping a close eye on the 100 Mile Free Press.
I’ve seen the community rally together time and again and support each other both in the South Cariboo and further afield while in Kamloops or Prince George. I’ve regularly heard from community members who often expressed their appreciation for a story or the overall product and sometimes their criticism both of which are always welcome. We’ve had many great story tips and photo submissions.
To all of our readers, contributors, fellow staff members and community members, thank you very much for everything; it would not have been possible without you. I’m definitely going to miss the Free Press and the many conversations I’ve had with all of you.