By Boots Gifford
The Havre Daily News editorial board is taking a break from its normal format to allow me some final thoughts as I face my last day in the office.
Actually, I think they ran out of ideas for today and thought they'd take advantage of me one last time. Gee, seems I always fall for that one.
For those of you readers who haven't heard, I am moving to Estes Park, Colo., where I will be the managing editor of the Trail-Gazette. Today is my last day at the HDN.
In trying to approach this column, I thought of being philosophical, critical, funny (a stretch), or just plain righteous. But when it came time to actually put thoughts to words, all I could come up with was random thoughts.
So here they are:
Havre ... it's the people. The Havre Area Chamber of Commerce's image campaign slogan carries a lot of truth to it. As I prepare to move, the corny but true cliche keeps rising to the top. It's the people I will miss. I have made many close friends in the nearly 19 years I've lived in Havre. Some of them will be mentioned here; those who are not, I hope you will forgive me.
Havre has a right to brag about its people. It is a strong quality that makes the town an appealing place to live. And I truly believe that Havre can rebound from some of its economic setbacks if the people put their heads together and work towards a common goal. But before this is achieved, the people of Havre have to face the realization that the railroad and agriculture can no longer be the sole supporter of the Hi-Line. It is time to develop and market the community from a technological stand-point. Internet industry -- e-business such as telemarketing, catalog sales, and more -- takes little space to run and requires no transportation of goods. With Montana State-Northern at our side, there is no limit to the possibilities in this area. Just think about it.
Even though I hung up my sports-editor hat more than a year ago, most people who know me know that I have never strayed too far from the gym. And those who know me well know that my strong allegiance has been with the MSU-Northern and Havre High wrestling programs.
One of my few true regrets about leaving is not being able to follow the Lights on the road to their third-straight NAIA title. Coach David Ray, I expect no less from you and my boys. I will also miss watching the young Blue Ponies bring home a second-straight Class A title. Coach Scott Filius, it's in your grasp, go for it.
An extreme random thought. Last week we had a letter to the editor from someone who was upset when a grocery store cashier didn't check his ID before accepting a credit card. I guess I have always felt it was good living in a town where everyone knows who you are and cashing a check is done with ease.
I had my first experience otherwise, and I guess it's ironic it happened as I am preparing to leave town. While writing a check at the Holiday gas station, the cashier eyed my check, eyed me, then asked for my ID. He said he had seen Boots Gifford's picture in the paper and I didn't look anything like her. (It was an younger photo, I had short hair, it was an ego thing. Please note, today I am using my "real" photo.) I showed him my ID, mildly annoyed. But in looking back, I know he was only looking out for my best interest. So, here's my thumbs up to you, sir.
I'd be amiss if I didn't recognize my co-workers and bosses at the Havre Daily News. They have been a wonderful, supportive group and have allowed me to grow as I learned my craft. They are a hard working group that truly wish to deliver the readers the best they can.
I know that as an editor and a journalist in general I am expected to take some heat -- and I've taken plenty over the years. And when the opponents from both sides of an issue each believes at the same time I am favoring the other, I feel I'm doing my job.
But there are a few things that irk me -- two that set me through the roof.
First, we do not make mistakes on purpose. We put our names out in front of thousands of people, do you think we really want people to see our mistakes. We are embarrassed, upset, mortified, etc., when we see our mistakes. To those of you who think we would put ourselves through all this just to make you look bad, I think you need an ego check.
Second, don't tell us we don't care. The reality is we often care too much and it can be a major struggle not to become emotionally involved with the people we write about.
We have a very precious commodity in our community and we must always be aware of its importance. Montana State University-Northern provides us with commerce, education, culture, entertainment, information, and I could go on and on and on. Right now, she seems safe perched on her hill. But be wary, because every few years some legislator from the west or south takes aim at our precious benefactor. Make sure you protect her.
As this random stream flows through my mind, I know that I could go on and on. But it is time to close the door and put this paper to bed.
Those of you who wish to say good bye, or take a final shot at me, I hope you'll stop by 15 West tonight. And should you want to reach me in the future, check out the Trail-Gazette website at www.eptrail.com.