This week, I became the longest-serving employee of the Hesperia Star, just edging out former editor Peter Day’s record. I’ve now been at the Star for eight years and four months. But that’s it: At lunchtime today, I gave my two-week notice to my supervisors at the Daily Press.
It’s been a pleasure covering Hesperia and the Victor Valley for the last eight years. I believe that, on the whole, I’ve done a good job and that the community might be at least a bit better off for my having been here. And that’s a good thing, since it’s home to my in-laws and it was home for me, my wife and our son as well. I’ve worked hard to make sure the commuters who make up the bulk of Hesperia’s working adults can know what their local governments — which have more immediate and profound impacts on them than their representatives in either Sacramento or Washington typically do — are up to while they’re traveling back and forth on the I-15. I’ve covered all but one of the Hesperia service personnel who’ve lost their lives as a result of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I even, accidentally, got a homeless man off the street, with a new home, a new job and a new shot at getting things right.
But eight years is a long time to be on a single beat. Although there’s certainly been a benefit to having personal knowledge of politicians’ previous incarnations or the history of long-running stories like the Ranchero Road Underpass, the Hesperia casino project or the California Charter Academy audit and subsequent indictments, there’s also a danger of falling into habits when it comes to looking at given issues. It’s time for fresh eyes on Hesperia.
And it’s also time for new challenges for me. I will be moving to another Southern California newspaper, where I’ll be responsible for the coverage of 16 school districts, a major change from the hyper-focused coverage I’ve done since 2004. Truthfully, the challenge is a little scary, but that’s a good thing, too: I’ll be a better reporter as a result of being forced to grow and develop new muscles.
(I won’t be disappearing from the Victor Valley entirely, though: Last year, the Hesperia Star office came in 3rd place in People’s Choice at two chili cook offs, two weekends in a row. I think we’ve finally cracked the code, and I’ll be back to try and improve on that ranking. Look for us cooking up a big pot of chili at a cook off near you, this October.)