Forty-one years is a long time to spend at one job. Not many people do that anymore.
While Friday marked my farewell to this four-decade career in the news business, I will be hanging around to write a weekly column you will continue to find in this weekend space.
This life-altering decision to hang up my pen has not been easy. There is no doubt that this past year of working at home, dealing with COVID constraints and missing my family played into this decision. Losing a fellow colleague last week only confirmed my decision.
Others who have gone before me in retirement advised that “you’ll just know when it’s time to go.” And they were right.
I’m not sure how to detach myself from chasing the firetrucks or listening to the police scanner. Old habits are hard to break. What I will miss the most — and have been missing for months now — is seeing in person all the people who make the news in one way or another. That includes my cohorts in other media outlets.
Following those prior years of covering city government in Wheeling, I hope to maintain the friendships made over the decades that resulted while walking the halls of the City-County Building. I appreciate the respect that was afforded to me even when I had to ask the tough questions.
I have lost count of the number of police and fire chiefs, mayors and council members, commissioners, judges, clerks, church leaders, veterans groups, civic groups and meetings that have been a part of my career.
There is no doubt that this job has given me more opportunities to meet some wonderful people than I could ever imagine.
Even through mistakes, you the readers have been kind and faithful.
Looking through stacks of newspaper clippings, I can tell you that I wrote every word hoping to enlighten, entertain, encourage or help. When your kids accomplished something special, you shared that with me. When your hearts were broken over loss, you shared that, too.
The newsroom is much quieter these days as we have been working safely and independently. However, I will always remember and treasure the good times, the chatter in the newsroom, the holiday parties and pot luck lunches, the smell of the dark room and satisfaction of meeting an incredible number of people and deadlines.
While this is goodbye it also is hello to a new chapter in my life. I thank all of you who have made it possible for me to hang in there when it wasn’t easy. And thank you to all who have allowed me into their homes if even just on paper.
See you next week.
Heather Ziegler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.