My title of “founding editor” of the short-lived Bulletin wasn’t unique. But I alone can claim the title of “longest lasting founding editor” and probably a few other designations.

When I started at the paper, my partner at the time was Larry, an old reporter who was just as much in the dark about the new endeavor as I was.

As for the rest of the staff, well we were pretty much it. We had a kid who shot sports photos on a freelance basis, and the ad staff and layout and production folks were shared with the publisher’s other papers tucked away in another city.

So any news content came from Larry and me. That meant the stories, the photos, the features, the sports scores, obits, even the school menus we pounded out on McIntoshes or shot on film with Cannons. We also handled walk-in ads, filled the vending racks, took out the trash and compiled the office bookkeeping.

Not that there was much to write about. It was a rural community in the corner of the county, and most people drove to the large metro area to work. Still, we had to fill 18 to 24 pages each week. I quickly learned a lesson in content quantity: The space generated by a single stand-alone photo is equal to a 7- to 15- column-inch story that would take at least an hour to research and write. We ran lots of photos. Anything we could shoot — farmers planting and harvesting, crews making road repairs, boats on the river, school festivals, and so on.

I wasn’t up to speed on sports, so Larry and I worked out an arrangement where he would handle most of the sports coverage, and I would take all the city council meetings (there were four towns) and the school board.

Usually we’d work full throttle early in the week, chasing stories, covering meetings, scrounging up anything fit to print. Wednesday afternoon was crunch time for deadline, Thursday was layout and printing at the publisher’s office. On Friday, I’d drive around filling up the newspaper racks in the four towns and then head home early, having reached my 40 hours.

Larry didn’t last too long, maybe a month or two. We launched in fall as school was starting, and Larry was gone before Christmas. He was followed by Joanne, another reporter who was brought out of retirement. She was a local who was excited about the paper.

One of the first things she told me was that we would have a good product because she had all the wisdom and knew the community, and I had all the energy. I took this to mean I’d be doing most of the work.

She lasted a little longer than Larry and headed out to start up her own magazine. She left before the publisher had a replacement lined up, and I asked the him if I should start putting in two or three hours of overtime to make up for the lost coworker. He said two or three hours should about cover it.

Heading back into town from the publisher’s office, I was trying to figure out how to fill the paper. I was by myself, and the school year had ended, so no sports or education activities to fill space. Before I got back to the Bolt Bin, I came across some utility workers climbing up and down poles. The power company was doing annual training. Sounded like a story. I pulled out my camera.

I held the title of “sole editor” (and sole photographer, sole counter help, sole trash-can emptier, sole employee) for a number of months. The paper chain had an advertisement out, but no one seemed to fit the bill.

A kid who was right out of college showed up late one day asking about the opening (turned out he had first driven to another town with a similar name on the other side of the state looking for the paper). Turned out he hadn’t quite finished college. Another day a woman inquired. She had worked on a labor union newsletter, doing cut-and-paste layout and writing photo captions. I suggested she apply, I reasoned that anyone would do. Never heard from her again.

The break came one weekend when I was buying shoes at the mall. Nancy, a journalism major from my graduating class, was surviving the bad economy by hawking footwear.

“Are you looking for a job in the field?” I asked. She started at the paper a few weeks later.

Nancy held the title of “second-longest lasting co-editor” (after me). I was the next to go, leaving for a larger paper on the metro area just after the Bulletin reached its first year in publication.

I can’t remember my replacement’s name. He was older, a former TV cameraman, and I showed him around on my last Friday. Right away I could tell it wasn’t going to work out. He didn’t seem too interested or two knowledgable about the writing side of news, and Nancy couldn’t stand the way he kept calling her “honey” and “sweetie.”

I later heard he was gone in about week. Nancy continued on as the sole editor and then became the “last editor.” The publisher shut down the paper not long after I left. We had kicked butt editorially — good stories, photos, content. But the advertising base wasn’t there. Everyone went into the big city to shop and buy groceries. There weren’t a lot of commercial establishments in the community.

Gracefully, the publisher gave Nancy a job at one of his other newspapers. She stayed there until she was ready to move on.

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