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That time I took a job at the Herald and said ‘goodbye’ in a column…

Posted on September 18, 2015 by Vauxhall Advance

By J.W. Schnarr
Vauxhall Advance

Well, this is it, Taber! I’m going to take a break from my usual rambling about science, geek culture, and politics just to let you all know I’ve taken a job at the Lethbridge Herald, beginning Sept. 21.

So, in a lot of ways, this isn’t really goodbye. This is more like, oh hey, I’m moving down the street, but we’ll see each other often. I promise. Especially those of you who get the Herald.

I’ve had a lot of fun working for the Times and Advance this past 20 months.

I have to admit, when I moved down here from Claresholm, I wasn’t prepared for the diversity or the sense of community I found. In spite of having lived here for a few years as a kid, I knew only what city people generally know about the region.

I knew you guys like corn. I remembered the old whistle for curfew, and the outdoor pool, and that when I was here in the 1980s, kids liked to make ninja weapons out of hockey sticks and prowl the south side dressed in black.

Those were good times.

And scary ones.

Coming back to the area has been like going back to school. With the opportunities at these two papers, I had a chance to cover Municipal District of Taber council, and learned a lot about drainage issues, and property rights, and rural policing, and the kinds of headaches that come with running such a large diverse area.

I’d like to thank M.D. council for making my job easy by being transparent and making themselves available for comment or for further explanation of an issue when needed.

I also want to thank them for being so generous with their coffee… which really helped get me through some of those long meetings.

Covering Horizon School Division meetings put me at a table with a lot of friendly people who are passionate about their work, and about the children they are responsible for.

The school board is another open, media-friendly environment that was a pleasure to cover. Here is probably where I learned the most about important issues such as Mennonite education, and the challenges that come with having half your education base being English Language Learners.

Watching how schools work, you really get a sense of the culture in a community, more so than you might heading to Cornfest or some other local event.

How we raise our children really speaks volumes about who we are, and being able to sit in on important board-level discussions allowed for a perfect top-down view of that in action.

I was hired at the Times as “The Vauxhall Reporter,” and while I expanded my role to include essentially everything outside of the Town of Taber, Vauxhall council was my second big job.

I happened along at just the right time – Vauxhall’s brand new council was just coming to the end of a period with a lot of change, and over the past 20 months I’ve been able to watch them settle in and new leaders emerge. Council has always been friendly, even during times when I wasn’t – but Vauxhall council has consistently surprised and impressed me with the ability to make the right call, even if they have to check and recheck the Municipal government Act to do so.

I think this is a sure sign of being on the right path.

I came to town to be closer to family, and to put in some time while I waited for an opportunity at the Herald.

What I wasn’t expecting was for Taber to be such an interesting place to live. There’s always something going on around here, and there were very few slow news days.

That’s a sure sign of a vibrant community, I think. I’m looking forward to actually getting a chance to enjoy some of those events a little more, instead of rushing around to grab a photo or a story and racing off to meet a deadline.

I have plans to stay in the community – I’m still on the Combative Sports Commission, after all! – so if I try to start up a conversation, rest assured I won’t be trying to follow up with a photo.

I want to say thank you again, Taber, for letting me tell your stories and getting to know you.

And for the love of Gawd, somebody else sign up for the Combative Sports Commission! It’s going to be awesome, I swear!


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