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Five years ago when I started at the Times-News as the newly hired publisher, I could not imagine a day I would be leaving. I had just been hired to oversee my hometown newspaper, a dream job that today I truly consider myself lucky to have had. But one truth I have learned is that things change — and change often.

While the opportunity to become President and Regional Publisher of the newspapers in eastern Idaho, including the Idaho Falls Post Register and Idaho State Journal in Pocatello, was too good to pass up from a career standpoint, it caused a wave of emotions for my family and me as we considered leaving what has become our home. While we have sorted through these feelings, which included sadness and longing, it helped us recognize what we appreciate about the Magic Valley and the people we call dear friends, associates and coworkers. Let me share of few of those reflections.

This is an amazing place. It is beautiful with countless things to do, see and experience. We’ve enjoyed kayaking the Snake River, hiking the South Hills, exploring some of the crazy lava tube caves and marveling at the many falls and springs so close to our home. But what makes this place unique — and so hard to leave — is the caliber of the people. It goes beyond just being friendly. In my time here, I have found a community that cares. Regardless of political differences or which high school team we cheer for, I believe people genuinely care about this community and rise above their differences to make it a great place for our families.

I saw it countless times as we navigated our way through the refugee debate. I saw it in the many service organizations that continually gave countless hours and donations to better our towns. I saw it in our schools, churches and community events where people are eager to help, support and invest in making our community great. People statewide often marvel at our continued success in recruiting businesses and growing our local economy. Many have tried to replicate what Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has referred to as the “Magic Valley Miracle,” but few have succeeded. I am convinced the reason they are not successful in taking a page from our playbook is simply this: the people.

Speaking of people, it has been an honor to lead such a talented team of coworkers here at the Times-News and the Voice. We have all read about the demise of newspapers. It is true our business model is changing, but we see that as refreshing and exciting. Today the Times-News has more readers than it has ever had in its history, thanks to our website, Magicvalley.com. Last month, we had more than 248,000 unique users access our website and generated nearly 2 million page views. And our print audience is still healthy too. More than 30,000 people read the printed paper on an average day. And they are turning to us for local news and information, much of which you won’t find anywhere else. That is why we do what we do every day. We have a passion for reporting the news, telling the untold stories, holding the powerful accountable and advocating for an open government. Local media is essential, and I hope you will continue to support it.

I am going to miss the Magic Valley and the many people who make it great. I am going to miss coming to work each day with a crew that works hard and makes a difference by doing their job well. And while I am excited about the changes that are ahead, one thing that won’t change is being proud to be from the Magic Valley.

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