Saturday, December 02, 2017

Man about Willits: End of the year edition

Batman used to be perched on top of my computer in the Willits News office since I started working there last fall. He was soon joined by his other pals in the Justice League. No matter how things were going, it was always nice to be able to come in and sit at my desk and get lost in the world of journalism and in the microcosm that was the Willits News office on Commercial Street.

After it was announced that the office would permanently close and all business operations would move to the offices of our sister pub, the Ukiah Daily Journal, I didn't know quite how to feel. I had mixed reactions, though I understood it to be a financial decision, I didn't think our readers would react favorably to the news.

One of our long time returning costumers who picks up her paper every Saturday (used to be Fridays before that) came in last week and sorrowfully surveyed the mostly empty space, with all kids of boxes stuffed and a ton of equipment, files and other items ready to be shipped to Ukiah and Lakeport.

"It's the end of an era," she said and it was a frequent refrain I heard constantly.

A few weeks earlier, because I knew she could keep a confidence, she was the first person I told about the company's plan to shutter down the space for good. She lamented the fact she would have to put quarters into the newspaper machines instead of having to come in and talk to our office manager on a regular basis, and we further discussed how these kinds of decisions are made by companies all the time. It wasn't really a surprise she said. One recent example was Bank of America pulling out of Ukiah by shutting down their local branch in that city. 

I got a little tired of explaining to folks that the paper was not folding that it would continue to publish, so I wrote this column which I hope assuages people's fears and answers some of the questions.

Around last November when I was new to the area, I would frequently go to the office for a few hours on a Saturday afternoons to use my computer, plan some of the coverage for the week ahead, or to quickly dash off my latest movie review. There has been little time for reviews this fall season starting with the Mendocino Lake Complex Fire in early October which crippled communications for a few days straight in Willits leading straight into end of the  year reports and the start of a busy holiday season.

Things haven't slowed down one bit, at least in the sense we are wrapping up our holiday coverage for the year. Today's annual event at the Roots of Motive Powers kicks off the holiday season in Willits, with holiday rides on the Skunk Train and the tree lighting ceremony to follow the Roots event which this year was a collaboration between several entities including the Willits Chamber of Commerce.

I hope to write in this blog more often in 2018 and I wish everyone has a Merry Christmas and a wonderful safe start to their new year.


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