> By Tony Ahern
It was April Fools Day, 1993, my first day on the job as publisher of the Pioneer. I know, what a perfect day to start my tenure.
The 10 years have been a blur.
In trying to fit them all into a primary thought, it's the many great stories we've told and reported, the powerful features and important news events: Championship athletes and teams that elicit a certain spirit and a connection to champions of the past. Dominating news stories like the riff between the Tribes and Mountain View Hospital, Bill Sizemore and the meltdown of the Madras City Council, and recently the state prison and Cogentrix issues.
We've had tragedies that shook the core of county, and tightened our communities: Todd Beamer, the Roes and Bob Ervin jump to mind, as does the stunning day of Sept. 11, 2001. We've seen the evolution of the community's Collage of Culture, which celebrates its 10th year in May.
Since April, 1993, we've witnessed important construction: Indian Head Casino and the remodeling of Kah-Nee-Ta, Jefferson County Middle School, Juniper Junction, East Cascade Assisted Living, Bi-Mart and the Palisades Shopping Center, the county jail, Safeway, new Ford and Chevy dealership locales, substantial housing construction.
It's been an eventful decade for our community and our newspaper.
I remember how nervous I was when I started this job, how the fear of failure shrouded every decision. But I had big ideas: I was a 30-year-old who knew everything and nothing at the same time. Thankfully some outstanding people were here to soften the landing, and thank goodness most of them are still here. In the coming months and years, I hired some other fantastic people, and also hired some, well, less-than-fantastic employees.
A history nut, one of my most enjoyable duties is putting together Looking Back. While doing so the other day, I came across my first editorial at the Pioneer. In it, I asked our readers to expect more from their local newspaper, to challenge us. I think, overall, we've delivered. In those 10 years, we've added a reporter to expand our news coverage, operated a daily faxed newspaper, went from cutting and pasting layout to computer pagination, instituted full-color photographs, started The Shopper!, established a Web site, started our popular Central County phone book and a twice-yearly magazine celebrating the county. Our paper has gone from an average of 14 pages and one insert to 18 to 24 pages with maybe five inserts. In the last few years we've earned second and third General Excellence awards in state competitions.
All in all, we've done all right.
Next year, in 2004, the Pioneer will celebrate 100 years of being this area's newspaper. My 10 years here are just a small link in the chain of history this newspaper represents. I've been honored to sit in the same chair (not literally, we're not that tight) as important and longtime publishers Howard Turner, Mae Johnson, Mike Williams and Bill Robinson, the king of Pioneer publishers who led the paper from the late '40s into the 1970s, someone who likely never operated under the fear of failure.
We all basically just wanted to do a good job, present the news fairly, honestly and interestingly, try and make the newspaper financially viable, and represent our industry well.
As for me, I'll always be driven by a fear of failure, just waiting to hear that it was all just a April Fools joke, that it's time for me to pack up and get out. But I hope that doesn't happen for awhile. I'd like to stick around, maybe see what the next 10 years will bring to the Pioneer and our community.