Getting to know a new community, its residents

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An old newspaper buddy of mine once gave me some career advice: always follow someone who has made a mess of things. This way, he says, you're sure to be a hero for at least the first year.

Although this works for him repeatedly, I failed utterly to heed his advice when I took this job. Jefferson was once asked if he was the guy replacing Franklin as American minister to France. Jefferson responded that is was not possible to replace Franklin, only succeed him.

The same goes for Jeff Ackerman. He was both publisher and editor of the Appeal, during which time he restored the paper to credibility and won more awards than I can list. He was also general manager of a group of papers around Lake Tahoe and in Minden/Gardnerville.

If that wasn't enough, he planned and executed most of the upcoming move of the paper from Bath Street to Mallory Way. Each of these was a job and half. He has amazing energy and richly deserves his new assignment in California, as well as all the credit for doing such a great job here in Carson City. He leaves behind a solid group of professionals I'm proud to join.

Jeff and I have privately joked that the communities we leave would be split between those who wished we'd stay and others who wished we'd left long ago. This is fairly typical, as the job doesn't include making everyone happy in reporting the news.

Although Jeff and I are and will remain good friends, we're also different people and I expect that over time you may see some changes in the paper.

One change will be this column. Ackerman can write -- I mean he's simply awesome. I don't have his writing skills and wit. I'll contribute occasionally when I have something to say (my wife claims that this is an infrequent event), but the weekly column Jeff banged out in 20 minutes would take me two days to do half as well.

I also won't carry the editor title. We have a terrific managing editor in Barry Smith and I'll be asking Barry to take more of the load so that I can spend more time on the operation of the Appeal and the other companies in the group. I will contribute to the paper's opinion page by taking my seat on the editorial board.

Finally, no one can truly replace Jeff in the community. Jeff gave much to this community of his time and money in addition to the clout of the paper. When the new Boys & Girls Club opens, I hope he can return to share the credit.

I will endeavor to give much in the years ahead once the immediate needs of moving my family to a new place, selling an old house, finishing the Mallory Way facility, and getting to know the employees and community are under way.

I'll get out to meet as many people as I can and will undoubtedly jump on something that gets me excited. My family is small, consisting of my wife, Beverly Mobley, and her father, General. General is 83 and has been living with us since having a stroke last year. Beverly ran the California Indian Basketweavers Association, working to keep the art of Native American basket weaving alive.

We're all very glad to be here. I know it will be harder following someone successful like Jeff, but I know I'm fortunate to be building on the solid foundation he created.

Peter Starren took over this week as publisher of the Nevada Appeal, coming from The Union in Grass Valley, Calif. Jeff Ackerman has taken his place as publisher of The Union.


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