Editor column: A new journey and changes at The Citizen Telegram | PostIndependent.com

Editor column: A new journey and changes at The Citizen Telegram

This is a thank-you more so than anything else, although it would be misleading to say it’s not a good-bye.

My last day as editor of The Citizen Telegram is Nov. 18. I’ve accepted the position of managing editor at the Tahoe Daily Tribune, and I’m truly excited to start this new journey.

I never pretended this was my last stop, although I will say I was not actively looking for a new job. But as I wrote in a column published in the Sept. 1 edition of The CT: “this industry increasingly feels like it’s suited for transients. Those who advance typically do so by moving and moving a lot. And I have certain aspirations.”

This is the point where one could be all sentimental.

But the fact is life goes on, and I’m thrilled to share that my successor has already been named.

Alex Zorn, a University of Denver graduate and experienced writer, will take the job later this month. Alex is currently slaving away as a reporter at the Beatrice Daily Sun, a newspaper that publishes five days per week in Beatrice, Nebraska. Having been lucky enough to speak with Alex as he went through the interview process, I was very impressed. As journalists, “why” is the most crucial question we ask. It’s a question Alex asked me several times during our discussion.

You’re in good hands.

Significant life changes and milestones are similar in that they both tend to cause us to reflect. Looking back on the past 19 months, I continually landed on a feeling of gratitude.

Thank you, Rifle. I came here as a still-green flatlander with eight months in the mountains under my belt.

From Day 1 you embraced me. “How can we work together” was a question I heard repeatedly. Rarely was I dismissed as some outsider here on a layover. You invited me into your homes and shared your intimate beliefs and stories.

Initially, I chose to live here because it was the community I was tasked with covering. When Sam, whom you also embrace, moved here six months ago, I insisted we stay here because this is where we belonged. I believed that then and I believe that now.

If you asked me where would you live in Garfield County, I’d answer Rifle.

AN HONEST OPINION

So where do things stand?

For starters, you have an honest government. You have city employees who are both dedicated and competent. You have people, both at City Hall and throughout the community, who want to see this place thrive. These people are unwilling to bleed the city’s coffers, but they are not ones to sit on the sidelines.

For sure, there have been controversial topics, such as Hubbard Mesa, that will continue to be a contentious.

I urge everyone who cares about the place and how it’s used to demand their seat at the table, fight for their beliefs but keep the dialogue respectful.

As a listener, I heard a few complaints about the Ute Events Center. It’s a topic I’ve thought about and debated. For sure, it is not a money generator, a point illustrated by the city’s plan to transfer the Ute out of the general fund starting in the 2017 budget.

At the same time, think of what it would have been. I can still remember my first tour of Rifle back in March 2015. We pulled up to the Ute and Don Chaney was walking out. He and Michael Bennett, then publisher of the CT and Post Independent, exchanged some brief remarks.

The Ute did not sell me on Rifle, but I can tell you for certain that I would have questioned coming here if the Ute had been the boarded-up eyesore it was prior to restoration.

Certainly, the business at City Hall, including the future finances of the Ute, must be followed closely.

But as things sit, the city is in a good place.

My suggestion: Do not fear change, but don’t lose your roots.

By many accounts, including those of our county commissioners, Rifle will be the epicenter of future growth in the county. And as the PI reported back in July, the state demographer projects Garfield County’s current population of 57,000 people will grow to 80,000 by 2030.

Don’t fear that growth, but grow responsibly.

There will be many new people in the years to come. Welcome them like you welcomed me.

As Battlement Mesa resident Dave Devanney would frequently tell me after the many marathon meetings we sat through together, “see you in the funny papers.”

Ryan Hoffman is the outgoing editor of The Citizen Telegram. You can reach him at 970-685-2103 or at rhoffman@citizentelegram.com.


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