Ryan Irvin
Ramie Carlson, Piper Carlson, Callahan Clayton and Kyle Clayton wave after a recent performance at the Holly Jolly Follies.

Well, CVN readers, this is my last edition as owner of this newspaper. In thinking about what to say about the last six and a half years, I decided that my last written piece while owner would resemble one of the many “Thank You” letters to the editor. Our policy in these letters is to not allow writers to thank more than 15 individuals lest they become a monotonous, unreadable parade of first and last names. I thought I ought to exercise my right of exceeding that limit before I have to comply with the policy myself .

First, thanks to Jane Pascoe who is an absolute rock and advocate for the paper. Thanks to Lex and Polly for their hard work, which allowed me to transition into a new job relatively stress free. Thanks to Larissa Barrett, our longtime ads manager who left the paper a year ago in order to be a full-time mom. You were a secret inspiration. Thanks to Bonnie Hedrick, Larry Persily and Tom Morphet, who, having different styles and values, offered advice and suggestions, sometimes unsolicited (Morphet!), that helped me make decisions when I was uncertain, which was often.

Thanks to Max Graham, a great reporter who became a great friend. Thanks to former reporters Ceri Godinez, Jenna Kunz, Jenny-Marie Stryker, Nakeshia Diop and Lucy Silbaugh who all brought curiosity and grit to the job. Sorry I couldn’t pay you more. Thanks to Nancy Nash, our longest-running proofreader.

Thanks to my wife and daughter, Ramie and Piper, for many things, but especially for putting up with my absences during dinner time, or Zoom broadcasts of municipal meetings during dinner time. Thanks for enduring my unedited expletives and exclamations throughout the aforementioned Zoom meetings. Thanks to the Zoom gods that I never made the mistake of unmuting myself.

Thanks to all the scrupulous CVN readers who offered their gratitude and good-faith criticism. I learned from both. Thanks to the advertisers. You all keep this paper alive, which, it bears repeating, is crucial for a small town. During a recent visit to a museum in Cave Creek, Arizona, one of the exhibits included a rotary phone. I asked Piper to use it to call her mom. Puzzled, she just asked where the buttons were. In many American small towns, the institution of the community newspaper is like that rotary phone, a recent relic of the past. But not in Haines. Not yet anyway. Piper might not know how to use a rotary phone, but she knows how to read a newspaper. This informed and engaged nine-year-old was recently reading a CVN story about Colton Combs, who was rescued by first responders after being stuck in the mud far from town for seven hours. After the ordeal, in which his body temperature was lowered to dangerous levels, his mom reported he was a little grumpy about missing the crab opener. “Colton!” Piper exclaimed, “After all that and all you could think about was the crab opener!” She had a good laugh, and learned about the importance of satellite communication in the backcountry. That’s as good an argument as any for keeping this thing alive.

Lastly, thanks to a letter writer who, several months ago, gave Lex a pretty hard time for changing the title of her letter to the editor, and later apologized by bringing him a plate of cookies. The cookie apology happened Tuesday, the day before the last paper of the year was sent to the printer. That’s as good a send-off as I can think of.

I’ll end this parade of gratitude with a quote, written in 1935, by journalist Ernie Pyle who at the time covered a civic dispute over the name of a town in Alabama. The quote always made me chuckle when covering local news, and the bitter rivalries that drive much of it, began to feel tedious and frustrating.

“Small-town hatreds…verging on civil war, have happened everywhere in this country: over a man shooting a neighbor’s dog; over one kid’s slapping another; over a dead relative’s will; over which farmer was first in line at the grain elevator; over hiring a new preacher. It’s small and disgusting, but it’s America. And I reckon we might as well get used to the idea that people are going to be mean and ornery at certain times of the moon.”

Or over property taxes. Or a dock. Or a drag show. On and on we’ll go. And we’ll persevere, one plate of cookies at a time.