Wed, April 08

Commentary: Thank you, Verde Valley: A rookie reporter’s farewell

Kelcie Grega

Kelcie Grega

I moved to the Verde Valley from Las Vegas, Nevada, almost two years ago because I wanted the opposite of Vegas.

I got what I wanted.

Now it seems I’m not quite ready for that happy medium yet as I’ll be moving back to Vegas next week to start a new job as a reporter for the Las Vegas Sun.

I’ll never forget what my editor, Dan Engler said when I interviewed for my position at the Verde Independent:

“I’ve read your stuff, you’ve got good news acumen.”

Acumen is one of those words I’ve only read. Never heard anyone say. Dan’s patented vernacular is something I’ll miss a lot.

He saw something in me that day. That meant the world to me. From there, I felt emboldened to do work I never thought possible.

While I can’t deny that covering this community has opened a tremendous amount of doors for me, I resent characterizing my time here as a stepping stone. It was so much more than that for me. The Verde Independent was a tremendous incubator. I failed, I succeeded, I grew and I evolved.

I would be remiss if I didn’t express my gratitude to all those who bore witness to this evolution.

Thank you, Dan, for being my mentor and always pushing me to “get the damn story.”

Thank you, Bill Helm, Vyto Starinskas, Chris Myers and James Kelley for your outstanding work and collaboration.

Thank you, Babette Cubitt for allowing me to dream with you.

Thank you, Cottonwood City Council and staff for your patience, professionalism and recognizing that my favorite place to sit in council chambers is in the far right corner of the front row. (just out of sight of the livestream cameras)

Thank you, Tim and Ruth Ellen Elinski, for setting the example of what it means to act locally.

Thank you, Sebra Choe, for embracing the ethos that micro action will eventually lead to macro change.

Thank you, Raena Avalon and Angie Lozano, for showing everyone that there is compassion in the Verde Valley, and for demonstrating the importance of being a human to a fellow human.

Thank you, to the members of The Naughty Bits for keeping the Verde Valley weird.

Thank you, women of Jerome Town Council, for proving to me there are communities ready for strong female leadership.

Thank you, Chad Hembrough and Abby Rothwell from The Flatiron in Jerome, for your hospitality, sense of humor and hosting the perfect place to take myself out on a date.

Most of all, thank you to all those who’ve read my work and sent me feedback (both good, and bad.)

I wasn’t always perfect in providing this community the representation and coverage it deserves, but I hope I at least made a difference where it mattered. You all certainly made a difference in me.

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