‘Turn out the lights, the party’s over’ (Opinion)

Bill Rozak / From the Editor

What a wild, smokey, fiery, snowy, mask-y ride the last nearly four years have been.

When I came to Lake Tahoe, and to the Tribune, in 2017, I never imagined the path it would take.

I started out as sports editor and then was promoted to editor in the summer of 2019. After a few months learning the many acronyms, agencies and groups around Lake Tahoe, all hell broke loose. There was no shortage of stories to pursue.

The coronavirus … I can hardly type that word without my fingers protesting.

It changed everything with how I work, and even today with how I eat. I grew to be a big fan of curbside pickup, just pop on the mask for a few seconds, grab the food and go, then ditch the mask again. I now eat inside restaurants a lot less, instead choosing to take home my meals. 

It also changed the job where more work became remote and I missed being around the staff more often. I just woke up, threw on some “around the house” clothes and went to work. Personal hygiene may have taken a hit for a bit while I adjusted.

I remember a surreal experience of walking through the ghost town that was Heavenly Village when the virus shut down everything. 

If businesses weren’t stressed enough in 2020, the next year smoke from wildfires, and then, ultimately, the Caldor Fire, provided another crushing blow.

We went from sheltering in our homes to avoid getting a disease and to not breathe in hazardous wildfire smoke to being forced out of our homes to stay safe from the flames.

The fire also provided more surreal experiences. 

Imagine driving through deserted South Lake Tahoe on Labor Day holiday weekend. What a scene that was, albeit sad and depressing as the mountains and city were shrouded in smoke. While covering the fire, I drove down the middle of U.S. Highway 50/Lake Tahoe Boulevard just because I could and saw no other cars from Lakeview Commons to the “Y.”

And another experience at the same time that is surreal even in the best of conditions was my son being born while we were evacuated from the fire. It was a head-spinning, emotional time. I was emotional because I thought I may lose my N. Upper Truckee neighborhood home, and then I was a ball of tears watching my son being born a few days later.

And then I had a wish come true, I became editor of the Sierra Sun, along with the Tribune, about a year ago. I know the paper has so much potential, especially in proud, thriving communities like Truckee-Tahoe. I haven’t written in this space as much as I planned, instead dedicating my time to learning as much as I could about the areas and agencies.

After a few months, here comes a monster winter that had no end it seemed, even as the calendar turned to May. Meteorologists were like auctioneers with snow forecasts approaching the basin … “We’ve got two feet of snow in the forecast, do I hear 3? Ok, 3, how about 4?”

If anyone living at Truckee-Tahoe was on the fence about residing here, the continuous snow dumps likely pushed them out. I love being in Tahoe. I love the snow, powder skiing and the extended backcountry season that a massive snowpack offers — but I got sick of it. And so did my snowblower as it gave up three times and I had to get it fixed. 

Writing daily weather stories felt more like obituaries at season’s end. 

But warmer days are ahead, blooming flowers are in abundance and the world will continue to spin, which brings me to my point.

During my time here, I’ve encountered many people who have told me they once worked for the paper either as a reporter, editor or delivered newspapers, when we had such a service. 

There is a whole army of former TDT’ers out there. 

As of Friday, June 23, I will join a large group of people who formerly worked for the Tribune.

It’s been a wonderful, hard-working journey. I have grown to love the people I work with and the last couple of weeks have been emotional. It’s bittersweet, and I’m staying in the area, but it’s time for me to begin a new adventure and let somebody else take over and bring new ideas to the table.

I won’t spoil any announcements that I’m sure you will see in next week’s edition, but you readers will be in good hands.

I’m not quite sure you’ve seen the last of my name in the pages, but you’ve seen the last of me for now. 

And as my dad liked to sing to me when I was a kid, a Willie Nelson song that was used often by the late Don Meredith during Monday Night Football, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over …”

The Rozak family, Jill, Will and Bill.
Provided/Bill Rozak

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