Ruibal column: Farewell to the people and stories of Glenwood Springs
When Paul “Bear” W. Bryant left Texas A&M to be head coach at Alabama, one of his reasons was, “Momma called. And when momma calls, you just have to come runnin’.”
When Lebron James left Miami to come back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he opened his announcement with, “Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio.”
Sometimes, you just have to go home.
This will be my last column in the Post Independent, as I am leaving for a job as a digital producer at the Enquirer in Cincinnati, Ohio, my original home.
Rifle editor Alex Zorn and I recently got coffee at the Starbucks in City Market, at which I have stopped nearly every single day on my way to work. Donnie and Roberta will start my drink (grande vanilla sweet cream cold brew with extra sweet cream) before I even get to the counter. On that day, another employee commented that he really liked my column about Glenwood Springs needing a movie theater.
“Your reaction was priceless,” Zorn commented. I guess I couldn’t hide my pride that people really did read what I wrote.
I have loved being part of this community, and being recognized for my work on the street, at the store, even in neighboring towns. It consistently blows my mind that people read and remember the paper and the people behind it. The best larger markets can hope for is indifference. But in Glenwood Springs, I feel acknowledged.
I do manage social media for the Post Independent, though, so not all feedback has been fluffy rainbows. I have hidden countless Facebook comments for vulgarity and also just plain weirdness. My own columns have been criticized for coming from a non-native perspective or from too young of a person. I don’t take it personally. You can’t be in journalism for yourself. It’s for people.
Former Editor Randy Essex gave me a regular column after I wrote about my classmate Otto Warmbier, the American student who was taken hostage in North Korea and returned in a comatose state before dying. It’s also my job to manage analytics for the Post Independent, so I know that was the top read story of 2017. Through the column, people in Glenwood Springs got to know Otto and who he really was beyond the headlines. That was the best thing I could ask for out of my job, which boils down to helping connect people.
I’m not leaving Glenwood Springs because I don’t like the people or the work, and certainly not because Ohio is more naturally beautiful. I’ll miss the trails and the people I hiked them with, mostly all of whom were co-workers. I’ll miss tag teaming stories with photographer extraordinaire Chelsea Self. I’ll miss talking sports smack with Josh Carney and pop culture news with Zorn. I’ll miss carrying newsroom cat Typo into Angela Kay’s, our ad director’s, office. I’ll miss coffee with Carla Jean, the Alabamian who told me that Coach Bryant story. I’ve missed Ryan Summerlin since he left in early February. I wish I could have spent more time learning under John Stroud, the best community journalist I know who leads with integrity above all. I also never got to do a CrossFit class with our publisher Sam Johnston. I’ll miss curly fries and ranch from Springs, too.
As I pack up my belongings — the various hiking backpacks, the Strawberry Shortcut T-shirt, the not-so-necessary-after-all snow tires — I’ll take valuable work lessons and lifelong friendships with me. But this girl from Southwest Ohio is ready to come running home.
Sallee Ann is engagement editor for the Post Independent for exactly one more week. Please do not ask how she feels about leaving newsroom cat Typo. She (Sallee Ann, not Typo) can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.