Oh, Perham. You are the community I've lived next to for the past 17 years but never realized I loved until I became a small part of it. And now, only a little more than two years since I've been the editor of this newspaper, I am already saying goodbye. I've taken a new position within the Forum Company, but before I go, I wanted to say a few things.
First, I'm going to state the obvious - you've got a pretty cool community here. You know this, I can feel that. I haven't met anybody in Perham who pretends the town is perfect, but man, everybody I've met does seem to have a genuine affection of the people and place where they live. I've loved that. And while I hope that you pursue economic opportunities and that you grow as you see fit, I also can't help but hope that you never grow too big that you lose your charm. And boy, you are charming. Again, I'm pretty sure you know that because you are always putting your best foot forward.
Although I know that overall you are a happy, healthy community, I implore you to remember those who aren't. I know that you'd take care of those who are obviously struggling because you are a kind crew, but I also understand that in small towns, it's not as easy for people to come forward when they are struggling with mental health. People feel much more judged because they're constantly walking among acquaintances. Even if you aren't judging them, they might think you are. Small towns can be tough that way. Please, do what you can to be a welcoming, judge-free zone and soft place to land for those in this town needing it.
Also, I hope you know what a hardworking, professional set of people you have working to make sure you have a quality community newspaper. It isn't easy trying to be all things to all people while still turning enough of a profit to keep the doors open, but you've got a small team of determined, caring people at the Perham Focus. Jason Groth busts his behind to get to as many games as humanly possible to bring you the local sports in a way nobody else can for Perham. His knowledge of the town is deep, and for a Packers fan, he is actually a really awesome guy. April Frost is the friendly voice you hear when you call the Perham Focus and the gal ready to chat with you if you stop in to the office. She takes her time with each person she comes across to make sure they're taken good care of. Michael Denny is a guy who works "behind the scenes" more in Perham, but he is critical in making sure all of the things you send us get into the paper and covers a variety of stories in Perham when we need him to. He has the best attitude a person could hope to work with. Advertising Representative Amber Bauer is that sweet, brown-eyed gal who is the first person to raise her hand to help out at Perham events. She is full of humor and heart and tends to light up whatever room she's in. And then there is Reporter Carter Jones, who puts blood, sweat and tears into his job, as he is proving to not only be a bright, up and coming reporter with a huge future ahead of him, but he is also honestly one of the coolest young humans I know. Finally, Publisher Melissa Swenson. This is a woman who can make a person laugh until they cry. And while she doesn't take herself too seriously, she takes her job very seriously and does it with expertise and professionalism. It is a small team, but it is strong. So, Perham, take good care of my Focus friends, too - I will miss them tremendously. I am better for having known them and better for having been a small part of Perham.