It’s a bittersweet week for us at the Methow Valley News. Ann McCreary, a longtime News reporter, is retiring at the end of the month. We’re happy for her, but sad to see her go.
Ann has been a reliable, prolific producer of high-quality news and feature stories since before I arrived here nearly eight years ago. She is a dogged and thorough reporter, as anyone who has been a source for her stories can attest. She will always call back for more information if she needs it. And she’s very pleasant about it. Ann can be persistent, but she’s never pushy.
Her writing is clean, well-organized and rarely in need of much editing. Ann has the versatility to write about almost anything, and readily volunteers for stories that need to be told. In journalism circles, she’s what we call a “real pro” — high praise reserved for people who do the job exceptionally well, and enjoy doing it. She learned the trade at other newspapers before she arrived in the Methow Valley.
Ann’s work has won the newspaper a lot of awards over the years, including a Society of Professional Journalists’ Excellence in Journalism Award, along with News reporter Marcy Stamper, for the best breaking news reporting by any weekly newspaper in the country for their coverage of the Carlton Complex Fire. That earned them a trip to Washington, D.C., to receive the award.
More important than the awards, Ann has always been a steady presence and engaging personality in the room. She knows a lot about the valley and is always happy to share information. Her wit and wisecracks keep us amused when things get busy (and they certainly do). It helps to have a slightly warped sense of humor in this business.
Ann has also been active in the community — notably with the Public School Funding Alliance — and is an avid outdoorsperson who takes full advantage of the Methow. Her two children went through the Methow School District and are now out in the world on their own.
“Retirement” means different things to different people. Ann will continue to live in the valley and has graciously offered to contribute to the News when we need the help, and I’m sure we will. So you will periodically see her byline in the newspaper and our special publications for at least a while longer.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about what a tough job hiring is. You can see why, when it comes to replacing someone with Ann’s talent and experience. As publisher, I feel like I owe it to the community to find the best possible candidate for the reporter opening that Ann’s departure creates. The next person in the job will need to hit the ground at full speed to match Ann’s pace. We are diligently looking for that person.
If you encounter Ann in the near future, congratulate her on her retirement and, if you see fit, thank her for her contributions to the community. We couldn’t do this kind of work without people like her.
Meanwhile, the first of News reporter Ashley Ahearn’s stories based on interviews she recently completed during a trip to Australia appears in this week’s newspaper, on page A6. She sought out ranchers and others “down under” who are dealing with climate change impacts similar to those we are seeing in the Methow Valley. Her stories will look at how the challenges and responses compare between Australia and the Methow and throughout the American West. It’s a more-global perspective than most small weekly newspapers are able to provide.
Also in this week’s issue is an article contributed by freelance writer Sarah Gilman. She is a former daily newspaper reporter, and former editor at High Country News, who has taken up residence in the valley. You may be seeing her byline more in the future as well.