Saying goodbye: Thirty-four years in the blink of an eye

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If you need to know the truth, I just got wore out.

Thatís why, on Sept. 26, after 18 years at the helm, I will step down as managing editor of the Daily Inter Lake and enter retirement.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, I am sure that will please some of the people and surprise the rest. To those who are unpleasantly surprised, I apologize. Standing by your side and carrying your voice into the public square has been my honor. You know who you are. Your encouragement has nourished me and given me strength for many years.

As for those of you who are celebrating my departure, God bless you and may you know that I have also enjoyed serving you by ensuring equal access for all of you in our community newspaper. My goal has always been a fair and free exchange of ideas both in our news coverage and on our opinion pages.

Other editors at other papers ó†and even at this paper ó†may not share my conservative philosophy, but I hope they share my interest in defending everyoneís freedom to express their own opinion, and not just opinions that are popular. We live in precarious times, and shutting people up ó whether on Twitter or in the newspaper ó is sure to just increase hostility, not decrease it. Freedom of expression is the safety valve of the republican system of government and ensures that no one feels powerless. Letting off steam keeps people from blowing up ó†figuratively or literally.

As many of you know, the Daily Inter Lake has been the focus of almost all of my adult life. I got here when I was 28, in January 1984, and stayed for the next 34 1/2 years.

I also like to think Iíve been an important part of the Inter Lakeís life. My term of service equals more than one-quarter of the newspaperís existence since it was founded in 1889. As the TV commercial puts it, ďI know a thing or two because Iíve seen a thing or two.Ē

Forgive me if I donít provide a Homeric catalog of the highlights of my career at this point, but what matters much more to me than the news Iíve covered is the people Iíve worked with. That starts with Dan Black, the managing editor who hired me as his wire editor back in 1984 and gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. Dan mentored me the old-fashioned way ó†by giving me enough rope to hang myself and then waiting to see if I was stupid enough to do it. (Iím still here, Dan!)

Iíve written before about the gentleman publisher named C. Patrick King who was at the Inter Lake when I started and who personified grace and dignity. Iíve also written about Tom Kurdy, who was publisher twice at the Inter Lake during my 34 years here. Tom knew my strengths, and encouraged me to develop them. He also knew all my faults, and he helped me rise above them. (Thanks, Tom!)

Then thereís my current publisher, Rick Weaver, who is the only other person left at the Inter Lake who remembers the brash, neurotic New Yorker I was in 1984. The river of time has smoothed many of my rough edges, but not all of them, and Rick can always remind me of how far Iíve come.

I should also mention the Hagadone family, which has owned the Inter Lake for more than half a century. Duane Hagadone personifies the work ethic that made America great and he put together a regional newspaper operation that has been able to weather the storm that has leveled many other companies in our industry. Duaneís son Brad Hagadone, who now runs the corporation, learned many lessons from his father, but had to learn many more on his own as he oversaw the transition from the print era to the digital era. Since Brad was working as a photographer at the Inter Lake when I first got here, Iím also in the odd position of having once bossed around the man who now pays my salary. Either way, Brad has always been a pleasure to work with.

As for the hundreds of co-workers whom I have crossed paths with in the last 34 years, those are the true milestones in my career. Iíve treasured the time spent around the coffeepot or in the hallways sharing a laugh or occasionally a cry. The best thing about working at the Inter Lake is the teamwork and the recognition that everyone is important to making us the best newspaper we can be.

My era will end soon, but I wish the best for everyone at the Inter Lake who will continue to work to put out the best possible newspaper every day. Carry on.

Frank Miele, for 3 1/2 more weeks, is managing editor of the Daily Inter Lake. If you wish to stay in touch after that, you will need to use his personal email account

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