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Reflections on a quarter-century passing

On a rainy evening of April 1982, I pulled into Warrensburg at dusk, taking on my new position for Denton Publications as editor of the Warrensburg-Lake George News. I sat down at a well-worn desk, once belonging to famed North Country journalist Robert Hall, editor/owner of the newspaper, an institution in Warrensburg between 1958 and 1971. The news office was housed in a building on Jack Toneys property, about where his Citgo gas pumps now sit. That old brick building of Jacks housed his grocery store and our news office, and Marco Polos Pizza before it moved across the street. Jack was renting the storefront to Dentons at an incredibly cheap price, because he believed the newspaper was profoundly important to the community he loved. That night, after covering an event, I worked late into the night to write up the news. I was doing my best to jump-start an effort to transform an 8-page newspaper with 4-H news on the front page into a vibrant, full-service newspaper like Robert Hall had edited decades before. The next morning, Jack Toney dropped in the news office and chuckled that he had received a number of calls from townspeople, inquiring about why the lights were on so late. Well, several weeks ago, I pulled into town again, and was greeted warmly by familiar faces, many whom I havent seen for nearly 15 years or longer. In these three weeks, youve called me and offered intriguing news leads, and alerted me to situations and issues that deserve a closer look. I must say, ts been fun and fulfilling being back here in town. Its exciting and enjoyable working here, trying to dig up information, responding to breaking news. Yesterday evening, I saw fire trucks tear past on Main Street, on their way to the fire at the Johnson House on Morehouse Road. I jumped into my pickup truck and sped to the fire scene, where I was greeted by guys that were familiar except for their grey hair. Fire Chief Justin Hull welcomed me enthusiastically. His face was lit up by the flickering orange light of the flames. As I was shaking his hand, I recalled it was his father Jim who was fire chief when I first came to Warrensburg. Later, I sat at a desk far past midnight, in a second-story room above a business on Main Street, I was typing up the article about the fire and then transmitting a digital picture via the Internet of local firemen battling the blaze to the Denton headquarters in Elizabethtown. A few hours later, the news of the fire was posted on the Denton Web site, there for thousands to see, while the embers were still burning at the destroyed hilltop home. Looking out the window when the sun rose, I thought about how exciting it was to be back in Warrensburg, working at the same mission I had a quarter-century ago. Im in awe of the changes in technology that allow us to deliver the news so fast and efficiently. But Im struck by how much has remained constant, including the close bond people share that can survive over decades, and how people here believe deeply in a strong, informative newspaper, and how vitally important it is to their community. But thats not all that was on my mind. I watched vehicles drive by, wondering if they were curious and concerned like nearly 26 years ago about why the lights were on so late.

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