Andy Smith: Thanks for memories, Craig

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I'm leaving Craig tomorrow.

By Saturday night, I'll have loaded up a moving van, and my wife, Laura, and our two boys will be preparing to drive to our new home in Loma, which is a small community just west of Grand Junction.

Moving is something Laura and I have done often. We've learned not to throw our boxes away. In 10 years of marriage, this will be our seventh move. We started out in South Carolina, then moved to North Carolina, Houston, Indiana and Craig. Now it's on to the Grand Junction area, where I will begin a job with the Daily Sentinel.

We're hoping this will be our last move for a long time. But with our track record, who knows.

What I wanted to share with readers is how important this experience in Craig has been for me. For one thing, it got me back into journalism after a five-year stint in public relations. Craig is a great news town -- not just because there are lots of things going on, but because people here take an active interest in their community. The feedback I got from people who agreed or disagreed with a story or editorial helped me understand how much people care about this town and its future.

I owe a debt of gratitude to publisher Samantha Johnston for taking a chance on me and giving me the opportunity to work with a great team.

I worked with some of the most generous and giving people I've ever known. Not just in the newsroom, but also in some of the organizations I've been involved with. The Northwest Dental Coalition, the Kiwanis Club and COMA allowed me to see Craig from the standpoint of the people who want to make this a better place to live. Craig is full of organizations and people who are all striving to improve the quality of life.

This is the most family-friendly town I've lived in.

I moved here from the sprawling mass of Chicagoland suburbia that spilled over from Illinois and into northwest Indiana. I lived among people who were trying to escape the bustle and high taxes of Chicago and were willing to commute an hour into the city. I only lived 10 miles from work but had a 30- to 40-minute commute to the office, depending on the traffic.

Craig was a refreshing change of pace. I enjoyed being able to get anywhere in five minutes. It was also nice to walk into the courthouse or the police station or a restaurant and recognize some friendly faces.

In the end, though, Laura and I decided we wanted to live closer to my parents. As much as we enjoyed Craig, we look forward to a new chapter in our lives. But we're thankful for the experience of living in rural Colorado, and we'll miss the wonderful people.

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