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Five years, four months.

That's how long I've been publisher of The Glasgow Courier – definitely the fastest and among the most rewarding five years, four months, of my life.

This edition of The Courier is the last with me as publisher. I've accepted a position to be editor of a small daily newspaper in Pennsylvania, The Ellwood City Ledger. It's an exciting opportunity with a fine media company for me to do what I do and be near family in Western New York and Western Pennsylvania.

This move, for me, isn't about leaving Valley County and The Courier. It's about going home.

There's no better place than Northeastern Montana and no better people than those right here.

The open prairie, to me, is as beautiful and invigorating as the ocean or mountains. I've been fortunate to live on a piece of it the last few years between Nashua and Fort Peck. The Big Sky, the colorful and blazing sunrises, the wildlife and all those ways that the sunlight and moonlight change the appearance of my land will endure as photos in my mind.

And so many people here – you readers – are genuine, straight-forward, giving and friendly. If some of this has rubbed off on me, I'm better for it.

At The Courier, I've basically been what modern day publishers at small weekly papers are. In baseball terms, that's a utility player in a manager's uniform. My stages here have gone from being the new publisher with new ideas and a feature column, Orrdinary People, to overseeing advertising to writing sports while managing this operation the best that I can. Getting to know different people and evolving in different ways has been a great part of it all along the way.

My proudest professional moment occurred at The Courier, when our staff was recognized for producing Montana's first-place paper in general excellence among papers of our size in 2011. I can't imagine any accomplishment feeling more special, but I will try to be part of something like that again.

The staff here, as with those at all newspapers, has turned over as the years have passed. Faces have come and gone, but what hasn't changed is that most have cared about doing their best during their time here and done their highest quality work. To them, I say thank you. I appreciate your efforts, respect your work and am glad we spent time together.

I also thank the many advertisers and other contributors to The Courier – the devoted community members who provide news, photos and other content that they want to share for publication every week. You all are so important to making The Courier strong and, in turn, making the community stronger.

The Courier's future is strong. The staff members here are talented and professional. The paper's ownership has moved swiftly to fill the publisher and news openings (which you'll learn more about in coming weeks). This is a testament to how much the company values The Courier and believes in small-town newspapering. This belief has enabled this company to grow steadily during a challenging era for larger papers. I thank the owners, Gary Stevenson and Robb Hicks, for letting me be part of it.

I'd also like to recognize five Courier employees or contributors who passed away during my time here: Dennis Cole (cartoonist), Molly Vertz (inserts), Jodeen Poland (customer service), Roger Lohman (delivery) and Cindy Spencer (presswoman). They are remembered.

In closing, I'd like to mention three more names.

• Pressman Stan Sonsteng, whom we support and pray for in his fight to overcome cancer.

• Opheim correspondent Janet Bailey.

• Founding Courier publisher T.J. Hocking.

Stan and Janet each have amazingly devoted their time and skills to The Courier for more than half a century, back to the days of the legendary Hocking. I'm hardly in the same league as Hocking, but for five years, four months, of The Courier's 102-year history I held the title of publisher that he did. It was an honor. It was a good run. Thank you all.

Jim Orr is at [email protected].


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