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COLUMNIST: It's time to say farewell, my friends

What a long, strange trip it's been here in New York Mills and East Otter Tail County. Living here was strange at times, and an overall positive experience, but now it's time my family and I move on to our next adventure.

We're packing up and heading west, to a place where the buffalo roam, and seldom is heard a discouragin' word.

I'm going to miss New York Mills. I'll forever hold in my heart a place for this funky Finnish town. I'm thankful for much, but mostly because it's where Stacy and I created our beautiful little family.

Our three sweet little girls-Avery, Nora and Molly-have only known our quaint little place at the edge of town as home. They love the big yard, tall oak and pine trees, and any number of critters (real and imagined) that spend time in the yard. Nora loves to lie in her bed and look out her window, updating me on what's happening in the trees. That's where the wolf dogs and witches live.

In their short little lives the girls have become as much a part of the community as I have. They've certainly endeared themselves to the people of New York Mills. I love to see the smiles on faces as they walk through the Sports Center.

Stacy's career takes her to Elgin, ND, population about 750. She's working as Director of Nursing at the hospital and home, a career move she didn't want to pass up.

We'll live in the small cowboy town of Carson, ND, population 257. Hopefully, the town will give us a warm western welcome. I imagine we'll be looked at favorably in the very basic fact we're bringing three children into the school district.

We're not moving because we didn't like it here. The world does not end for us in lakes country. We look forward to western North Dakota and the rugged Badlands.

We're trading in Finnish flat bread for Fleischkuechle. So long, St. Uhro. We're moving to the home of 1983's Miss Rodeo America.

I don't worry about the girls fitting in anywhere. They've won the hearts of the people of New York Mills, and that makes me happy.

Thank you, New York Mills for the way you've watched after our children. Many evenings I showed up at the Sports Center to cover sporting events with one, two, three little girls in tow. I didn't need to worry too much about what the girls were doing as I covered the games. It was great to look across the Sports Center floor and watch the girls wave to and visit with anybody and everybody. And they had no problem crawling up on a lap and plunging their little hands into a bag of popcorn. I know many people have graciously over the years relinquished their popcorn, Laffy Taffy, or licorice to the Cederstrom girls.

Small town life is very much alive here. I appreciate the fact I can take the girls to Dean's and the ladies working hug and speak to the girls as if their own. If I need a hand buckling one of the girls in a vehicle, there's someone from the Dean's crew to help.

The ladies at the bank come from around the teller window, and out of their offices, to greet the girls. That means a lot.

It's nice walking into the hardware store and getting a fishing report, even though I don't fish. It's good to know though.

I'll miss hanging out in the bakery and listening to the conversations from back by the baking table. I still get a kick out of how people come and go through the back entrance at the bakery.

New York Mills has been a great place to live and work the last seven years. I've been involved in many community events, supported the cultural center, volunteered in numerous capacities, and spent five years on the fire department.

I leave here proud to have served with such a dedicated fire and rescue department. These guys put in more volunteer training hours than most people realize. I made a lot of friends on the department and I'm going to miss those meatheads.

The newspaper has been good to me. Sure, there have been some rough times with this job. This hasn't been an easy couple years working for the local newspaper, but the company and community have treated me well and through it all I just tried to keep moving forward.

I'm not leaving because of my job, but unfortunately too many times I let a few regular bad apples ruin my days. You know the guy, the one who goes from coffee klatch to coffee klatch stirring up bad attitudes, but doesn't ever offer up any real solutions to problems and community issues. That, although it only constitutes a fraction of my time here, I will not miss.

I refrain from taking parting shots.

Being a newspaper guy in a small town is rewarding in too many ways to list. There's something to be said in people putting their trust in you being a voice and vision for a community. I'm not going to even pretend I made all the right decisions. In fact, I was flat out wrong on occasion. But I did own up to my mistakes and moved on best I could to next week's issue.

That's one thing about a weekly newspaper. If you make a mistake there's not much time to dwell on it because next week's issue is right around the corner. On the flip side, though, that issue with the glaring mistakes sits on the stands for an entire week.

Now, it's time to move out to the wild, wild, west.

There is plenty to miss from this Minnesota town that I left long ago as the "paper boy," just getting started in the business, only to get lured back some years later as a married man looking to start a family. Mission accomplished.

Now I must go again, but shall return for the Corn Feed.