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Moving to a new desk
It’s been a great ride
Veronica Coons editorial April 2020
Veronica Coons

A certificate hanging on the bulletin board by my desk in the newsroom at The Great Bend Tribune marks an important date for me. On Sept. 17, 2012, I took a ride on the B-25 Maid In The Shade on the opening day of the Great Bend Airfest.

“Pilots Russ Gilmore and John McGuffin took the group of seven for a ride over the city of Great Bend, circling the vicinity in a tight, 60 degree banking turn. Passengers took turns occupying the front bomber turret and the rear turret which offered unique views of the city.”

Those were the words I wrote. The seven others on the media flight may remember that this reporter was content to simply ride in the cargo hold of the bomber, strapped in and clutching an air sick bag as all my other senses were overwhelmed during the short ride. It was truly an exhilarating, once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget. 

That day, as we landed and I emerged and felt solid ground under my feet once more, the story was already spinning in my head, and I couldn’t wait to get back to the office to put it on the page. That was the day I realized I was “all in.” I wasn’t just a reporter. I became one of the many chroniclers of Great Bend history. 

Earlier that month, I began an endeavor that has lasted eight years. Mary Hoisington called me into her office and asked me if I would be interested in writing a weekly local history column. I could pretty much make it my own. Who turns that down? Not I. “Out of the Morgue” was the result, and I’ve enjoyed my weekly trips through the pages of the Tribune in all its past iterations ever since. 

Over time, those trips down collective Memory Lane have driven a point home. The Tribune is more than just a daily newspaper to be perused and then discarded in the circular file or the recycle bin. Each day, a core of storytellers, historians and illustrators go to work writing the pages of an epic novel that has been in process for nearly 150 years. In recent decades, many of those storytellers have stuck around and continued to add to the story even after they found desks in other offices around the community. Still others have left on personal journeys and returned to the Tribune to continue adding to the story years later. 

It says a lot about a community like Great Bend. It’s population is diverse and interesting, engaged and active. It’s a place to which people are willing to commit significant portions of their lives. It’s a place where friends can be made and dreams nurtured. It’s a place people want to call home. It’s a place that my family and I now call home, and hope to for many years. 

Eight years and four months ago, I came to Great Bend as a reporter for the Tribune. Today, I say farewell as I head for another desk in another office just a few miles down the road. It’s never easy to leave home, but we all have to do it sometimes if we want to grow. I’m happy to say, the Tribune has felt like home. 

I’m grateful to my publisher, my editors, the other reporters, paginators, ad salespeople and others in the office who pull together each day to produce the latest entry in our community’s story. They are my Tribune family, and they always will be. 

I’m also grateful to all of the people who have so generously shared their lives and their stories, some inspiring and some tragic, through me. The vast majority of people I’ve approached for interviews were willing to sit down and put their trust in me, and it’s something I never take for granted. I’ve received so much grace over the years. Thank you.

And most of all, I’m grateful to our readers, who continue to turn to the Tribune each day for news, information and amusement. Please know that you have been top of mind every time I’ve attended a public meeting or sat down to interview a public official, or write an editorial or an “Out of the Morgue” column. “What does The reader want or need to know?” Without you, there would be no point in continuing to tell the story. 

Next week, I start a new chapter at the Barton County Conservation District, where the story is all about protecting our water and our soil for future generations. The latest edition of the Tribune will be on the top of my desk in the morning. I look forward to joining the ranks of readers, following the story, and maybe even contributing from time to time. Hanging next to my desk will be my My B-25 certificate. It’s been a great ride. 

Veronica Coons was the area reporter for the Great Bend Tribune. The Tribune wishes her the best in her new career.