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Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to serve you

It’s been a long, slow goodbye and I apologize for that. But this, I’m sorry to say, is my last editorial at the Valley Journal.

Just about six years ago a small group of us were sitting around my porch enjoying a few cold beverages, wondering how we could all collectively jump off the cliff together. I’ve always viewed forming any small business is akin to jumping off a cliff. Once you start, you either figure out how to fly or find the abrupt end of a short trip.

Fortunately, we’ve worked hard to make sure it was long, rising flight. And, boy, has it been a fun ride. 

But now that journey has ended for me. As I explained earlier, I’ve decided to leave the Valley Journal, though I anticipate that it will continue to succeed and soar without me. My next job was still a mystery until last week when I accepted the position of editor at the West Yellowstone News, the small weekly newspaper located just outside the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

Again, I apologize for stringing out my farewell. I was stopped by a reader just last week who asked hopefully that he interpreted my continuing editorials as evidence that I had changed my mind and decided to stay. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, I explained with a heavy heart. 

It might have been easier to wait until the last moment and say goodbye as I was heading out the door, the conversational equivalent to ripping the Band-Aid off with one quick and final thrust. That may have held off the pain of leaving until the last week, but my fear is that you may have wrongly interpreted such a brusque departure. 

Worse, you may not have understood how grateful and humbled I am for having served you. 

Leaving this job, this wonderful team, is the right thing to do, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I leave knowing that I’ve been quite fortunate to have such a great job in a diverse community that has valued all the hard work we’ve put into our newspaper. Building a small business is no easy task, but seeing all the hard work of our team come to fruition over the past six years has been, believe it or not, a joyful experience for me. 

I’ve never been prouder to work with a group of people than this great crew we’ve got at the Valley Journal. I’ve long said we’re more family than a place to work and it’s especially difficult to leave the family fold. We’ve never been perfect, but we’ve always strived to achieve perfection by continuously improving and building upon our strengths. We’ve always held ourselves to a higher standard, one we collectively have set to represent the deep passion we have for community journalism. 

We’ve always felt we owed that commitment to excellence to our readers, our advertisers and ourselves, week in and week out.

This hasn’t been just another job for me. I’ve also always known that I’m lucky to do something I love with a group of people I care deeply about. 

That makes leaving all the more difficult. But it’s also not easy to leave the friends and neighbors we’ve built relationships with along the way.

We’re not ready to put our property up for sale just yet. My wife, Deni, is staying here to work another year at K. William Harvey Elementary, while Rita, my lab, will help me through the transition into another community in West Yellowstone. We’ll try the three-day-weekend commute thing back and forth until we figure out whether West Yellowstone is the right place for us to relocate permanently. 

So, I’ll keep my foot in the door of the valley that will always hold a piece of my heart. 

I apologize for not personally saying goodbye to you. I admit that I’ve been in a bit of denial mode over the past weeks, looking forward to another day as your editor instead of focusing on the approach of the end to that job. But with Friday, July 2 as my last day, I’ve got to face the reality that I won’t be at the Journal next week. 

Hopefully, I’ll see you around before I take off. I’ve got a long list of chores to do before I head to West Yellowstone, so we might run into each other at Hanson and Granley’s over the next two or three weeks. 

If you’d like to stay in touch, please drop me an email at jimblow@ronan.net. I’d love to hear from you. 

But, if I don’t get to see you before I head south, please know that I’ll miss you all very much and have enjoyed being your editor and your neighbor. You’ll never know how much I appreciate your openness and trust, and the many kindnesses you’ve blessed me with along the way. It has truly been an honor and a privilege to have served you.

And who knows what might happen tomorrow. Life does take unexpected turns. We’ve still got roots in the Mission Valley, so maybe we’ll see each other again in the not-too-distant future. 

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