Column: So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adios, au revoir

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 8, 2006

The United Way is trying to meet its $520,000 goal and when I joined the board last year, I vowed to help in any way possible &045; no sacrifice was too great.

So when the request was made for a small person to fill a furry creature costume for the &8220;Keep the Fires Burning&8221; fund-raiser in January, I knew I had to volunteer.

See, I have experience doing such. My high school mascot was an otter and I &8220;performed&8221; at several football games back in the day. Granted, I told Jackie, the United Way executive director, it’s not something one generally puts on a resume &045; after all there is little call for such a skill &045; but I knew I was capable.

There was little discussion and a whole lot of relief when I offered my services. Apparently, only a small person

&045; which also made me an excellent candidate, at 5-foot-2-inches and xxx pounds (I will share my age any day, but not my weight!), would fit in the costume.

I was making plans to go with Jackie to try the costume on when I got the news the managing editor position was open in Fergus Falls, my hometown.

While it was an easy decision to make &045; I accepted the position, my last day at the Tribune is Wednesday &045; it did not come without deep emotion and heartache.

There were so many plans I made, so much I wanted to accomplish yet, both at the Tribune, and in a community which has been welcoming and kind to a non-native.

So many of you have responded positively to my columns and the changes in the look and content and news approach of the Tribune in the past couple years, but there were still policies to clarify or create, additional news coverage to build upon and oh, a lot more, but I guess there’s no point now in going over it.

A word about the Tribune &045; the people who work there care about you and this town. I know when you are reading some unpleasant news you might tend to disagree, but I know better.

And the newsroom in particular cares more about getting the facts right and passing along the news than they do in having a social life, I think. I will miss the camaraderie and banter and dedication they have, for the work they do is more than a job for them &045; it is a passion.

Upon my arrival in Albert Lea, I wrote in a column I wanted to do my part to improve the quality of life in this corner of the world &045; in fact I felt it was my duty to participate in the community &045; and I did participate. I had made plans with the various organizations and boards I was involved with to continue in their endeavors, so I wasn’t planning on going anywhere.

Funny how God steps in and shakes things up for a person, isn’t it?

The chairman of the United Way board, in an e-mail to me earlier this week, apologized in advance for his politically incorrect statement &045; May God be with you …

No apology necessary, Jim. In fact, I appreciated the sentiment.

I believe God is with me and planned this whole unexpected turn of events. It behooves me to listen and find out where this about-face in my life path will take me.

I apologize to the people and the groups I left hanging with things undone, but know there are other capable people to take my place &045; they simply need to be asked.

To the many people, too numerous to mention, the people who made life easier or more fun or more interesting for me &045; you know who you are &045; I thank you. My appreciation and love goes far deeper than you can know.

Good luck to you all &045; new projects and continued progress is on your agenda and I don’t doubt Albert Lea will be making great headlines which I will follow with great pride in my heart.