EMILY GARLAND: Thanks for the memories, Renton. You’ve taught me a lot

  • BY Wire Service
  • Thursday, June 25, 2009 7:28pm
  • Opinion
Emily Garland

Emily Garland

Today is Friday, June 26, and today is my last day at the Renton Reporter.

After three years as a staff writer for Renton’s only newspaper, I’m still coming to terms with that reality.

I was hired in September 2006 as the only news and features reporter for the then-twice monthly Renton Reporter. Renton was then one of the cities covered by a sports and business writer and a team of photographers. An editor managed the Renton paper along with several other area papers. That was it for the editorial staff.

The paper has since undergone many changes. During my job interview, I was told the paper was for sale, along with its older brother, the daily King County Journal. I was told the impending sale wouldn’t affect me.

That wasn’t true. Fortunately, it wasn’t true in a good way. After the sale (and unfortunate decimation of the King County Journal) the Renton Reporter underwent a series of makeovers.

The paper became a weekly, then a twice-weekly. Now it’s back to a weekly. In the newsroom, a new editor was brought on board (the great newspaper lifer Dean Radford), along with a succession of sports writers (we now have the irreplaceable Adam McFadden), and some talented photographers.

Our print design has been revamped and we’re now posting stories, photos and videos online every day. More improvements and upgrades are coming, and I’m sorry I won’t be here to enjoy them.

I’ll be in Cambodia, teaching English and developing youth programs with the Peace Corps.

The skills I’ve honed at the Renton Reporter helped me land this prime international gig. During my three years in Renton, I’ve learned how to talk to people from all walks of life.

The first day on the job, my story list was one item long: a report on the WASL results. My story list soon grew to hundreds of items long. I’ve truly enjoyed every story I’ve written these last three years (even if I didn’t realize that enjoyment until the story was finished).

Among my favorites: A Renton couple who make soap that looks like dog poop (www.nopeitssoap.com); Bambi the race car driver; a Renton man who is building his own biplane to fly around the world; and the group of senior citizens at Wonderland Mobile Home Park who, after an 18-month battle, saved their park from redevelopment. Still more favorites: a laughing club; people who dress and shoot like 19th century cowboys (and cowgirls); and, a story that I began reporting in my first month and didn’t wrap up until this spring: the Jimi Hendrix house. (The rocker’s childhood home was dismantled and removed from a Highlands mobile-home park in March.)

Another recent memorable story is still ongoing — the five-alarm fire that blazed through downtown Renton June 11. That fire consumed an historical Renton building, but not the community spirit of the downtown business owners and Renton residents.

It’s this spirit of Renton neighborliness that I will most miss during my nearly three years in the sweltering heat of Cambodia.

Thanks to all of you Renton residents and business people who have shared your stories, friendly faces and words with me over the years.

Thank you, and goodbye.

Friday is Emily Garland’s last day. Renton Reporter Editor Dean Radford can be reached at 425-255-3484, ext. 5050.


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