I'm not known for long term commitments. The longest I have been in a relationship is nine and a half years. The longest I've had a dog is seven and a half years. And, prior to this job, the longest I stayed with one profession was ten years.
On September 1st, I will begin my 14th year with the Mason County News. I don't believe there will be much fanfare when the day draws nigh, and I'm perfectly comfortable with that response.
It's been an interesting 14 years.
We were half-way down the block when I began in a double-sized building. We sold office supplies in half the building and put together the newspaper in the other half. The staff consisted of Margie Hahn, Rosy Busby, Tom Kent, Donna Nelson, Cindy Morris, Terri Price and Scott Wesner. We accessed the internet with dial-up service, we had to process film in order to get our photos, and we pasted up the paper on full size sheets of layout paper. When the sheets were all proofed and ready to go, we put them in a wooden box and drove them to the press down in Kerrville. I would wait while they printed the paper, then I would drive them back to Mason.
At 4:30 a.m., I would come back into town to stuff all the grocery store inserts into the papers and to label each and every one of them. Tom Kent and I separated the papers into their destination sacks, bundles and flats. By 7:30 a.m., the papers were ready for the public. By 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, I would start to feel the long hours and I would try to sneak home for a nap.
We no longer have to wait on film for photos. We use digital cameras and can get photos into the paper almost immediately.
We no longer paste up the pages. Our software now enables us to convert pages to a digital format, which we then send to the press. Fortunately, we no longer have dial-up internet, as we now have a fiber connection that is incredibly fast and never has problems with a signal.
The press prints all the papers, inserts the grocery store flyers, labels the papers, does a preliminary sort, then they truck them back to our office. When I arrive at 5:45 a.m., the papers require only a few final movements to have them ready for the post office and the convenience stores. At 6:00 a.m., the first folks start walking through the door to pick up that week's issue.
We no longer sit in the middle of the block on the east side of the square. We are now in the historic rock house down at the south end of the east side of the square. We no longer have room to carry all the office supplies we once sold, though we do special orders for our loyal customers.
And the staff? It's much smaller now.
Donna Nelson and Tom Kent are still here. T. J. Schmidt is with us now, and we have Jackson Chapman as an intern in the office, and Spencer Bierschwale as a photo intern. Scott Wesner drops by when we have pressing matters; but, is usually busy with other concerns and calls in to check on things.
I still attend all the meetings (county, city, school), I still take photos at ribbon cuttings and special events. I still spend more hours at the office than I do at home.
And, I still enjoy helping to keep Mason County residents, visitors and alumni up to date on what is happening in our little county. I consider it a privilege to be able to help introduce the new born children, the newly wedded couples and the newly graduated kids. I'm glad I get to honor those who have passed from our lives. And, I am pleased I get to promote Mason County as a tourist destination, as a hunting magnet, and as a home town.
It's the beginning of my 14th year. Let's see what other changes we can make happen.
It’s all just my opinion.