It is with a sad heart that I tell you today is my last day in the newsroom of the Winona Post. After 10 years here, I made the difficult decision to accept a position at a magazine in Rochester, and while itís a wonderful opportunity, leaving this place will be one of the most painful things in my career.
Over the last decade, the Winona Post has become part of my family, and I am deeply proud of this newspaper and the work we do in the community.
But I feel like the community of Winona has become part of my family too. You opened your homes to me and your hearts to me and you let me tell your stories, and for that I am truly humbled.
There are more stories than I could ever name that moved me, and I think about many of you often. On the very shortest list, to the WALC kids who trustingly told me about their lives, the John Schneider family who shared whiskey and many tears on their porch, the victims of Randy Wait who bravely spoke out - you are some of my heroes in this community and I am better for having known you.
Covering education, Iíve sat through 21 school board members and three superintendents, hundreds of hours of meetings and thousands of documents.
During that time, I have been inspired by teachers, staff and school board members who are passionate about education and unwaveringly seek what is best for students. It is a little known fact that my father was a teacher and an assistant principal, and I have profound respect for those who hold education close to their hearts and strive to do it well.
But in Winona Iíve also been disillusioned by some in power who spend the day grinding axes and playing power games instead of working for what is documentably best for children. Special interests and those who carry their water have cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and at times created educational gridlock, but it will only stop when the people of Winona say enough is enough.
Donít fall asleep at the wheel come election time, Winona, donít be afraid to ask hard questions about agendas, and donít believe everything you hear. This is the best advice I can impart to you after 10 years in this chair.
As a reporter in this community Iíve encountered situations that none of my 53 communications credits could have ever prepared me for ó the flooding in 2007, the murder trial of Paul Allen Gordon, the tragic deaths of more young people than I can bear to remember ó and I shut the door of my office and cried many times.
But we had some fun too ó fishing openers and deer hunting stories and crazy projects some of you do that give us all a little laugh, and I hope over these 10 years youíve been entertained as well as informed, and sometimes both at the same time. I know I have.
I was flattered to win awards for some of the things I wrote, but the truth is that the majority of them stayed stacked on the floor by the wall. What I always put on the wall, however, were the cards and letters I got from you ó even a painting once. Those, to me, were far more significant than a plaque, and I was touched by each and every one.
Writing this column feels like good-bye, but itís not so much good-bye as see you around. Iíll still be in Winona, but the next time you see me Iíll be on that side of the paper instead of this one.
All my best, Winona,