Trusted local news leader for Williams AZ and the Grand Canyon
Thu, Feb. 20

My time at the Canyon<br>has been great, but it’s<br>time to make a change<br>

Over the past 4 1/2 years, I’ve been sitting at this desk cranking out columns on a variety of subjects. Through that time, this column has evolved into a write-up on the various adventures I’ve had on the job or at home.

In my 20 years as a writer, I’ve never received so much positive feedback on a column. Hundreds of people have commented to me in grocery store aisles, at gas station pumps and in the post office, as well as over the phone and through traditional mail and e-mail. I’ve appreciated all of those kind comments; they served as an inspiration for me to keep it up.

But now it’s time to move on. I’ve taken another job, back in my home state of Nebraska. I’m excited about the change and opportunity that awaits with this new company. Stacey, Dorothy, Brandon and I should be on the road heading north as this week’s newspaper hits the streets.

Making the decision to change jobs was difficult. I’ve enjoyed being a part of the Grand Canyon-Tusayan community and all of the friends I’ve met. I know Stacey feels the same way.

But we’re looking forward to being a family, together in a new place. We’d like to buy a home, maybe one of those old two-story houses with a basement and wrap-around porch. We’re excited about the school system up there. We want to have a more normal family life.

There are folks here who have normal family lives, but it was difficult in our situation. My job requirements involved long working hours, including night and weekend coverage of news and sporting events. I wrote hundreds of inches of copy each week for Grand Canyon News and Williams sports. I was beginning to get burned out, making careless mistakes and losing enthusiasm.

In my new position, I will work 40 hours a week. I can go home and put work aside until the next day. I’ll be able to sit in my living room and relax, no phone calls from somebody who lost 50 cents in a machine. I can separate my working life from my personal life. I will be able to have anonymity, something I now desire for me and my family.

It’s been a great time here at this newspaper. I had my doubts when applying because I had never worked for a weekly newspaper, only at dailies. But it would afford me the luxury of bringing up Brandon on my own because the company was willing to be flexible with me on my schedule.

After a year-and-a-half in Williams, I decided to take the Grand Canyon job, which would give me even more flexibility with my single parenting duties. Since March 1999, I’ve been writing about Grand Canyon-Tusayan issues and I’ve had the opportunity to cover some exciting events and meet some fascinating people.

A lot of people have impacted me here at the Canyon and I can’t name them all. But I want to mention a few folks who made my job enjoyable.

• Maureen Oltrogge — Mo is on a temporary assignment over in concessions now, but she has been the longtime public affairs officer for the park. Whenever I needed a story idea, she was always there with a few suggestions. And when the tough issues came up, she responded in a professional manner and helped me get what I needed. Mo has become one of my best friends here at the Canyon.

• The Thurston family — This includes Clarinda Vail, Bess Foster, Chris Thurston, Johnny Thurston and all the others. They have all been very kind to me these past four years. Clarinda, in particular, has become a very good friend. She and the others love Tusayan and care so much about its future.

• The Rotary Club — I was a member of the Rotary Club for my first few years here and dropped out because of time management issues. But a lot of the people in this organization have become friends and were always good news sources. Greg Bryan, Pam Frazier, Sissy Pittenger, John Dillon, Don Keil ... the list goes on and on. Rotary does a lot for this community; I hope people recognize that fact.

• The school board — I’ve always tried to provide good school coverage in the newspaper because most small communities revolve around the local school. I feel I’ve had a pretty good relationship with the board, primarily Chuck Wahler. They seem to understand my job and have never questioned my news judgment. I’ve even written a few editorials criticizing their actions. Serving on the board is quite an endeavor; my hat is off to each of them.

• Sheila Breen — You may be surprised I’ve included someone who has been a part of our community for only a short time. But I think Sheila is going to be so good for this school district. She’s been honest with me on issues and she will be with you, too. She also served as Stacey’s boss, one of the best she’s ever had. Sheila and Guy were becoming good friends. I hope we stay in touch.

Those are just a few of the people who come to mind. I could also write nice things about Andrew Aldaz, Matt Yost, Dan Lopez, the Fuhrmans, the Kelsos and many other at the school; Joe Alston, Ronnie Gibson, Donna Nemeth, Ken Phillips and many others from the park; Tom Martin, Robbie Evans, Greg and Judy Walker, Ken Hunter, Ann Wren, John Lovelace, Ron Williams, James Peshlakai, Mary Hoover, Buford Belgard, Pete Shearer, Bob Petzoldt and on and on. Still others who come to mind have come and gone over the past few years, such as Paul Kinnison and Ken Olsen.

As I leave the community, there are always areas where I would like to see improvements. It’s easy to point those out when you’re headed somewhere else. All I’m going to say is I hope the rough edges are smoothed out and local residents stay involved to do what’s best for our communities.

So, that’s it then. It’s been a great ride and you never know, maybe I’ll be back one of these days. For now, I welcome new challenges and the chance to spend valuable time with my new family.

(Brad Fuqua is the former editor of the Grand Canyon News).

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