By Jenn Watt
I distinctly remember the day I drove up to Haliburton to interview for a reporter’s position with the Minden Times. It was a warm, sunny day, not overly hot, but I had the air conditioning in my rental car on full blast to combat my pre-interview sweats. I was finishing up a contract in the city and desperately wanted to work in the country – in a place where you could see stars at night. I needn’t have worried; the moment I walked into the front lobby of the Haliburton Echo building I was greeted by the friendliest welcome from Martha Perkins, then the editor of the Echo and Times.
After completing the interview and meeting the other staff, I walked out the front door and stood on the verandah overlooking Head Lake and thought to myself, “this is exactly where I want to be.” Luckily for me, I got the job and spent two years working as a reporter for the Times and Echo.
Then in 2009, Martha and her significant other made a huge decision to leave the Highlands for new adventures in British Columbia. I was asked if I would step into the role of managing editor, a daunting challenge given the reputation for excellence at the papers. It was a nerve-wracking first year – or three – as I learned the ebb and flow of the job, but thanks to the support of the staff and the patience of the readers, I made it through.
The time since then has gone by incredibly quickly. I can recall only a tiny fraction of the news events from the last 11 years, but overwhelmingly I remember community spirit. At the root of so much in the Haliburton Highlands is an undercurrent of teamwork and compassion. It has been a pleasure to report on the many, many instances of true kindness exhibited by people living here.
It is that spirit that I will remember the most as I start on a new phase of my career. Earlier this fall, I decided the time was right to try something new and go back to school. While it was a difficult decision to make, I’m excited for the possibilities ahead of me, though it means I have to say goodbye to the many incredible people I’ve met and worked with over the years.
Starting next week, two experienced journalists will be taking the editorial reins at the Echo and Times. Chad Ingram will take over as editor in Minden and Mike Baker will become the editor in Haliburton. I wish them all the best as they take these papers to new and exciting places.
This editorial space has never been long enough, especially this week. Thank you to the readers, the community, and the wonderful newspaper team I work with. It has been an honour to hold this position and one that I will never forget.