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Finding the funny side of things

Working in the newspaper business is an exercise of learning to roll with the punches. Theres constantly things that crop up unexpectedly (usually right before deadline), and sometimes these things like accidents and deaths are difficult to write about. But then there are things that send me into fits of laughter, usually brought to my attention by the wonderful people of Essex County. While visiting Au Sable Valley Central School recently, an old acquaintance of mine presented me with an unusual gift. Sue Snyder, a teacher, had stumbled upon a book thats over 10 years old, Young Voices of the Adirondacks which was edited and illustrated by Nadine Balzer McLaughlin. This is what I have to call a blast from the past. When I was in fourth grade at Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School in the class of Mr. Alvin Reiner who now works for the local daily as a correspondent my class was asked to submit work for an anthology. To my surprise, one of my poems, Snowfall, was selected. It was a thrill my first official published piece of writing. And then, like most kids, I forgot about it. Sue had mentioned before that she had a copy of the book, but it was a complete surprise to have it presented to me last week, complete with gift wrap. Looking at the work evoked two reactions in me: a sense of embarrassment to see work Id written when I was 10, and a bit of surprise that the work wasnt completely horrible. The piece, while not worthy of a Poet Laureate, isnt all that bad. The incident does make me wonder if somewhere down the road, when Ive reached the threshold of old age, if something Ive written for the Valley News will be presented to me in a similar fashion. If something like that happens, I hope Ill be able to look at the work, and realize it holds up. Anyway, I wanted to say thanks for that gift, Sue. It made my day. On another note, I was broadsided again in an amusing fashion to receive a petition from 37 residents of the town of Essex. As I have never been the recipient of a petition, receiving it was a bit of a shock. And then I laughed. The petition humbly requested that the Valley News continue the outstanding and humorous column of Jim LaForest. Its like our morning cup of coffee, biting but satisfactory. For a couple of weeks, there were technical issues that prevented the column from running. Out of respect for the esteemed Dr. LaForest, I will not go into details. I would like to take the time to assure residents of Essex that the Valley News staff has no intention of cutting Dr. LaForests column, and indeed is happy to continue to run it on its regular weekly schedule provided I receive it by deadline. Though this does bring up a point Ive been wanting to make. As the editor of a community newspaper, I strive to find content that interests the local reader. The best way for me to determine what readers want to receive is for them to tell me what they enjoy about the paper. My e-mail is always open for suggestions, construction criticism or any kind of feedback.

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