A month ago I drove from central Utah – Ephraim, to be specific – to interview for the position I now hold with the Herald. After a couple years working at a countywide newspaper in Manti, I’d decided to move on.
I’d been to Evanston a few times, as most Utahns probably have – and yes, most often for fireworks.
After growing up in a small town a few miles south of Salt Lake City, I finished school and set out for bigger and, as I’m sure I thought at the time, better things.
I spent over a decade in or around Salt Lake City, ignoring a lot of things: Noise, pollution, overcrowded establishments and perhaps most of all, neighbors and others in the community.
But over time I’ve found that one of the bigger things I ignored was a sort of internal craving to make those personal connections that are so common to the lifestyle facilitated by a smaller town.
And I don’t mean Facebook connections. I mean real connections, many of which I’ve already made in my short time in Evanston. Connections that fill a being with purpose, pride, emotion. Connections that make someone smile from the inside out.
Not to suggest it’s impossible to make those connections in a big city. But I’ve thought, at times, that maybe being around a more personable bunch, the kind of people you tend to find in smaller, tight-knit towns, forced me to make those connections after I left the city.
After building many relationships in central Utah, I knew I wanted to be somewhere that could facilitate similar connections and relationships.
When I interviewed for the Herald position, newly-named publisher Mark Tesoro spent the better part a the day with me, showing me the town, teaching me about the community and talking about the newspaper.
Obviously, since I’m here writing this, things went well with Mark. He was a fantastic host, kind and professional at all times. But it was his genuine interest and knowledge of the community that blew me away. I started to think, “This is a place I can call home.”
At one point, he turned me loose for about an hour to go drum up a story.
I walked out the door and saw S.O.S. Staffing across the way. I thought it might be interesting to find out the employment situation in town.
Bret McCoy and Jessica Simpson were eager to help me understand some recent events affecting employment. They explained the impact the oil and gas industry has on the community.
Then I headed to the county building where Jerri Crompton told me how she’s personally seen the impact the industry (or recent lack thereof) has had on some of her family members.
When Lana Wilcox returned from a meeting, she spent 15 minutes with me, helping me understand the dynamics of the oil and gas industry and detailing budget cuts and recent layoffs (which were previously reported in the Herald).
Not one person I spoke with that day seemed put out. I was greeted with smiles everywhere I went. And folks were happy to take time out of their busy days to help me during a job interview of all things. All that help for a story that would never see the light of day!
Each was even gracious enough to allow me to take several photos. I’ve since seen some who helped me that day and thanked them. I plan to visit the others soon.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many other city and county officials. What a personable, kind group of people.
I’ve been able to spend time socializing with my great neighbors and we love our new neighborhood.
Upon arriving in town just two weeks ago, my wife and I received several offers to help us unload our belongings.
Staffmembers at the Uinta County Herald, Kemmerer Gazette and Bridger Valley Pioneer have all welcomed me and pulled together to get me up to speed in my new role.
As I pulled up to a traffic light a couple of days ago, a man next to me rolled down his window to tell me one of my taillights was out. (Note to Evanston Police Department: It should be repaired by the time you read this).
The next day a man stopped to let me cross the street, then asked if I knew where the post office was. Only my third day in town, I had actually looked up the address earlier that day.
A week or so later, I had trouble receiving my forwarded mail, a woman at the post office went out of her way to make sure it got straightened out.
I remember years ago standing in line forever at busy post offices, DMV offices, clerks offices, only to be greeted by the one person on the planet who was less happy to be there than I was.
Not for me. Not anymore. I’ve enjoyed my short time here in Evanston and plan to be here for a long time. I’m looking forward to being part of the community. Evanston really is a place I can call home.For the complete article see the 08-27-2013 issue.
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