For me the best thing about living in South Lake Tahoe and working at the Tribune has not been the proximity to world-class skiing and mountain biking, or being able to walk to the beach for an evening dip in the water.
Those things are great, but looking back on my experience here I realize it isn’t the place, it’s my coworkers who will always hold a piece of my heart. In this building, day-in and day-out, paper after paper, I have had the opportunity to see true talent and dedication at work. I am proud to work alongside these outstanding people.
So it is with a heavy heart that I bid South Lake Tahoe, and my Tribune co-workers, farewell. I have moved to Reno to pursue other opportunities, and spend time with my little girl Lauren, now 19 months, and our newest addition, Andrew, who is only five weeks old.
I already feel melancholy, too, for the news that has not happened, that I will not be here to read and be a part of alongside my fellow journalists.
For example, there is a city council election around the corner that could totally change the make-up of the five-member board, and the direction of the city. As we get closer to election day, voters will have an opportunity to determine South Lake Tahoe’s future course, and with players like the always cantankerous Bill Crawford, and the outspoken Ted Long, it promises to be a political grudge match. In the newsroom, that spells F-U-N.
Then there is the convention center. After more than a decade of planning, and several changes in developers and development plans, the project appears ready for groundbreaking next spring. Residents either have a love or hate relationship with redevelopment, and it’s only going to get more heated. And of course there will be those objectors who will come in last minute, to argue against the project, even though that ship sailed a while ago.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency will be busy as the Pathway 2007 process wraps up, and the ideas from all those community meetings finally become part of Lake Tahoe’s regional plan. If you think proposed boating restrictions in Emerald Bay were contentious, wait until this one hits. John Singlaub, TRPA executive director, and Julie Regan, TRPA spokeswoman, will have their hands full – pulling out hair.
The biggest story, I think, will continue to be the effects that all these things – along with growth in the real estate market – have on South Shore as a community. Living here, I saw more than one of my neighbors pack up and move away. I watched two schools close (with a third slated for closure), and sports programs on the precipice of extinction due to lack of funding.
Whether you blame the economic realities of a small town transitioning to a resort community, the inability of public officials to diversify the economy, or even the restrictive nature of environmental regulation, there can be no doubt that the new South Shore will not look like the old. On one hand there will be fewer families and more retirees and second-homeowners. On the other the tourism economy will likely be more robust as Lake Tahoe becomes competitive with other destination areas. We are living in interesting times, watching this change happen. My hope is the people who have lived their lives here, raised families, and want to stay here for retirement, will be able to. The definition of “progress,” I guess, is relative to how it affects the individual or the business owner.
For me, leaving the newspaper doesn’t mean I’ve lost the journalist’s itch to tackle big issues like these. My first employment in newspapers was at age 12 when I threw the San Jose Mercury News for about 20 cents a piece. I wrote stories for my grammar school, high school and college newspapers, and have worked in a handful of other newsrooms before I landed here. The journalists who work here are the same way. We choose this line of work because it is ingrained and we believe in it – we know a newspaper has an important role, especially in a small town. We are part of a business, but we are also community servants.
So my parting request is this: Please continue to read your local newspaper and engage it as a forum for public debate. Active newspaper readers make good citizens, and good citizens steer a town in the right direction. I am sure the paper will continue to do its part, and I remain thankful for the opportunity to be part of it.
– Jim Scripps is soon-to-be former managing editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune.