By Don Nelson
It’s been our pleasure and privilege to work with one of the valley’s most friendly and familiar personalities for the past several years. Mike Maltais, a Methow Valley native who returned in the early 2000s after many years away, already had an accomplished journalism career in television and print when he came to work at the Methow Valley News. He started here as a proofreader and then became our sports and recreation reporter when that position opened up in 2010. Mike didn’t need to range the sidelines or track the trails with his camera and notebook, at odd hours in all seasons, but he chose to because he enjoys it.
Mike is not only a detail-oriented reporter but also a stylistic writer, always looking for a moment, an image or turn of phrase to enliven any story. He has a lot of writing awards to show for it. Mike’s versatility has made it possible for us to turn to him for other stories not necessarily related to sports and rec.
More than that, he’s just an interesting person to have around. He’s had a lifetime full of adventure, much of it in the great outdoors, and is always willing and able to help us with a variety of tasks. If we ever need a bucket of rattlesnakes, or a paper hat made from a sheet of newsprint, or an interesting tale guaranteed to produce smiles all around, Mike is — to use a sports analogy — our go-to guy. He also has the coolest desk in the newsroom.
Mike and his wife, Kathleen, lost their home in the Loup Loup area in the early days of the Carlton Complex Fire. They had extensive collections of Native American artifacts and rare books that were all consumed in the fire, but Mike says the hardest part was losing their pets.
Mike kept up his reporting duties while working to figure out what to do next. Now, he and Kathleen are rebuilding on the Colville Reservation, where they own some property and where Kathleen’s family ranches. Which means that Mike will be leaving the Methow Valley News soon, and we are looking for another sports reporter.
It’s not just the newspaper that will miss Mike. He’s worked at a variety of jobs and volunteered at a bunch of places in the valley. He’s one of the most genial and generous people I’ve ever known, and that’s how I expect many local folks will remember him.
Not that we’ll never see him again. Mike has roots and relations in the valley and will surely be around. If you have a chance, I hope you’ll join us in wishing Mike all the best, and thanking him for his contributions to making this a better place to live, and making the News a better newspaper.
And now, MT
This is going to take some getting used to. MVSTA was always an awkward mouthful and a terrible acronym, but at least locally we had the advantage of knowing that it stood for Methow Valley Sport Trails Association (although people constantly wanted to relocate an “s” and call it “Sports Trail Association”).
Now the nonprofit organization responsible for operating the largest Nordic skiing system in North America will be known simply as Methow Trails.
Which only became problematic when, writing about the name change last week, I referred to Methow Trails trails. Not sure how to get around that, because abbreviating to MT on second reference looks like the postal designation for Montana.
But we’ll figure that out as we all get more used to the moniker, which the Methow Trails folks believe will deliver a much punchier marketing message.
Marketers are fond of the term “rebranding,” although it occurs to me that in its original usage, the word often was associated with cattle theft — which I’m pretty sure is not the connotation Methow Trails was looking for. As Executive Director James DeSalvo said, it’s about letting people know where they are and what they do. In that respect, simpler is likely to be better.