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Palmer: 'Going to miss you guys'

This kind of column can sometimes come off as a bit cheesy — small-town sports writer bids farewell to his old stomping ground, thanking everyone who helped him along the way while reflecting on the many joys and challenges that came with the job.

I sure hope this particular column doesn’t read that way, but after 11 years at the News-Times and four years at the Hillsboro Tribune, I do feel the need to say goodbye to all of the people who helped make that time so special.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than a decade since I first made the drive out to Forest Grove to meet with this paper’s new publisher. Having recently moved to Portland from the east coast and desperate to find a newspaper job, I was ecstatic when John Schrag offered me the sports editor position at the News-Times, even if it meant waking at the crack of dawn every morning and spending countless hours stuck in traffic on the Banfield or Sunset Highway.

That was a trade-off I was willing to make in order to continue my career as a sports writer, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and that’s especially true when you’re getting paid to cover sports for a living. These last 11 years have gone by so fast that it’s hard to believe it’s actually been that long since I wrote my first story or designed my first pages for this newspaper.

A lot has changed since the summer of 2005.

Along with graphic designer Olivia Passieux, I played a central role in redesigning the News-Times from the ground up, helping save it from the clutches of bland design and staid journalism. No more ugly headline fonts, no more grip-and-grin photos, no more press releases with staff bylines.

Along the way, John surrounded himself with a staff of talented and dedicated professionals who understood the value of good community journalism and the important role a newspaper plays in cities like Forest Grove and Hillsboro. We expanded our online presence, we tackled stories both big and small, and we won awards for our work.

In 2008, facing potential budget cuts and my imminent move from Portland to Eugene, John and I wondered how we could continue the good work we’d done even with me living two hours away. We settled on an unconvential arrangement — I would continue to write stories and design pages from Eugene, and we would enlist the help of staff photographer Chase Allgood and a series of interns and freelancers to cover games and other events.

To our surprise, things continued humming along. It wasn’t exactly ideal and it didn’t always go smoothly, but each week we kicked out sports pages that we were proud to have had a hand in creating. Some of the names changed over the years, but I was lucky to remain a central part of the process even as it evolved over time.

In 2012, we welcomed the Hillsboro Tribune to the fold, and with it, another set of challenges — namely, how we could produce a second sports section every week with the limited resources at our disposal. We started small but aimed big, and in 2013 we hit the jackpot and hired Amanda Miles as the full-time sports editor of both papers.

Amanda became the face of our sports coverage, a tireless reporter and constant presence at the schools in our coverage area. I stayed behind the scenes, designing pages and occasionally covering games or state tournaments when the opportunity presented itself. We brought out the best in each other and worked together to produce sports sections that rivaled those of any weekly newspaper in the state.

I am truly proud of the work we’ve done over the last three years, and I’m honored to have worked alongside incredible people like Amanda, Chase, John and Olivia, plus Nancy

Townsley and Maureen Zoebelein. No weekly newspaper should be blessed enough to keep so many talented people around for so many years.

I will miss all of those people, and I will miss the coaches, athletes, parents and fans that I met during my time here. I’m sure I was not always the most popular guy in town, but I always strived to do my best and provide this community with the sports coverage it deserves.

For me, this feels like the end of an era. But for somebody else, it’s the opportunity to come in and put their own stamp on the sports coverage for these two award-winning newspapers and to fall in love with this community and the many amazing people who call it home.

I hope this doesn’t sound cheesy, but I’m going to miss you guys.

Zack Palmer will continue to cover sports throughout Oregon and the rest of the Pacific Northwest. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..