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Kiowa County Signal - Kiowa County, KS
  • 'And just like that, as mysteriously as he arrived, he was gone'

  • It was the middle of the summer and our apartment didn’t have air conditioning. Well, that isn’t exactly true. It had one of those massive box air conditioners, jammed into a pre-cut square in the south wall. Alanna hated it and would only let me turn it on at night. I still resent her for that.
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  • It was the middle of the summer and our apartment didn’t have air conditioning. Well, that isn’t exactly true. It had one of those massive box air conditioners, jammed into a pre-cut square in the south wall. Alanna hated it and would only let me turn it on at night. I still resent her for that. We lived in North Hollywood, which isn’t what you think it is. It is mostly working families, students and young professionals looking for affordable choices in a ballooning L.A. rental market. It is the southeastern region of the San Fernando Valley, a sprawling suburban area as diverse at L.A. itself. One of the things I loved about it, besides the location, was the food. Lots of Mexican choices, health food supermarkets on the west side of town and a great Thai place two blocks away. One of the things I hated about North Hollywood was the temperature. It was always 10 to 15 degrees warmer than any other place in town. That is interesting, when I remember things the first thing I remember is the temperature and the second thing is the food. If I had my way it would be cold all of the time and I would have a variety of exotic foods, reasonably priced, available to me at any hour of the day or night. If you know of a place like that please let me know (*cough, Boston…*cough). Alanna was on the phone and, both of us gleaming and slick with a light sweat, turned to me and asked, “Do you want to move to Kansas?” “No. No way, are you serious? No, never going to happen,” I laughed. Two weeks later we were eastbound in a loaded truck and trailer. We flew into town on a chicken wing and a prayer, first to Kinsley and then into Greensburg ready for a new adventure. You won’t see me wearing a dusty brown leather jacket, whip and fedora any time soon, but as far as life is concerned I like new things, new places and new experiences. I’ve always fancied myself a bit of an adventurer. I want to squeeze out every drop. This is a short life, so why not experience as much of it as I can? The Signal was the perfect job for an adventurer. It put me in direct contact with lots of people immediately. I talked with people about their lives, took pictures, explored every corner of the county and had a blast doing it. I don’t know if there is another job like that in Kiowa County. Here I am, two years later, with another adventure afoot. I will be leaving The Signal at the end of May (finally getting to the point, Pat). I’ve been accepted into the film program at the University of Kansas. We’ll be moving to Lawrence in August. It will be a new adventure with new people to meet and new places to go. It has good annual temperatures, reasonable rainfall and there is plenty to eat. With my leaving, inevitably, there comes reflection. I have always been my toughest critic and despite a number of things I think I could have done better (i.e. track and field photos, I just haven’t figured it out) I feel satisfied with the quality and quantity of my work. Being the editor of a newspaper in a small community is not easy but I feel like I worked with integrity, passion and with deliberate professionalism. I made mistakes, I am human, but always did my best to atone for them. I took chances, with design and content and I took lots of photographs. City matters and “hard news” have never been my forte but I think I reported on local government with impartiality and honesty. It has been largely a positive experience for me and it is one I won’t soon forget. For all of the people who offered a friendly smile, a short thank you note, a kind word during tough weeks or an unwavering dedication to local news, I thank you. Don’t expect me to disappear at the end of May. Alanna and I will be in Greensburg through the summer working a variety of personal projects. Known in Kiowa County as a newspaper editor, I’m known around our house as a filmmaker. A key provision of the Clement-Goodman “Moving to Greensburg Peace Accord,” struck during heated negotiations in Summer 2011, was my directing a film while living here. I’ve been working on a script called “Somewhere Between Freedom and Protection, Kansas,” a story about choices and family set in a small southwestern Kansas town. It explores the exodus of young people from rural Kansas through the life of a local college-aged writer. It is a passion project that combines many of my experiences of living here. I will be working on it through the summer. It will feature not just a relevant storyline but also the incredible talent of local actors, musicians and production people. We will film across Kiowa County and surrounding areas, showcasing our diverse and breathtaking local landscape. I’m probably going to hold a fundraiser next month so I hope you will come. I am also working on a biography of Garden City photographer F.D. Conard. Conard, a fixture in Garden City for more than 50 years, had a career that spanned the rolling dirt clouds of the Dust Bowl to a prolific exaggeration period that produced some of the most whimsical images of his era. While many identify him as the creator of photos depicting massive grasshoppers and smart-talking jackrabbits, he also founded a radio station and documented life in western Kansas throughout the first half of the century. My plan was to write another column in the last edition of the month, but boy that seems like a lot of columns, three in almost one month! And this one is quite long enough thank you. So this will be the last one from me and I want to thank all of our readers who have supported The Signal through the thick and thin and supported me for the past two years. You deserve, not just a good newspaper, but a great newspaper and I couldn’t have done it without you. And just like that, as mysteriously as I arrived, I was gone.
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