JONATHAN EPPLEY: When one door opens, another one closes

Jonathan Eppley

Jonathan Eppley

After more than half a decade, journalist says farewell to Pioneer

I have a confession to make.

When I came to Big Rapids in July 2010, I had every intention of gaining two to three years of experience at the Pioneer and moving on. I wanted to find a reporter’s job closer to my hometown of Port Huron – I never thought I’d stick around for very long.

But as that old cliché goes, “Life happens when you’re making other plans.” Here we are six and a half years later, and I never plan to leave this area.

That’s a fact I’m very proud to admit – I love it here. 

I’ve lived in and traveled to cities all over this great state, and Big Rapids is the only place outside my hometown where I feel completely welcome and happy to call my home. … It’s the people.

For the most part, area business, municipal, nonprofit, Ferris and community leaders all work together, which makes getting things done a lot easier and better for the whole area. In my role at the Pioneer, I’m glad to have taken part in that in whatever way possible. I’m proud of the work I have done here.

In the past six-plus years I’ve put down roots – I fell in love, started a family, bought my first house and have made some of the best friends I’ve ever known (too many to name).

My long-term outlook on living here changed while on assignment about one year after I moved to town. I was covering the annual Library Benefit at the Sawmill Saloon and saw the band Your Mom perform. It was the first time I had laid eyes the woman whom I would come to marry.

Megan and I got married in 2014, and I honestly don’t know how I lived so many years without her in my life. Together, we share an incredible son and have a baby girl on the way (due in March). We have shared many amazing experiences, endured horrible tragedies and had many awesome adventures in between.

For all of that, I am beyond grateful to have made my way to Big Rapids so many years earlier.

I could go on and on about how much I love Megan, but there’s not enough room in these pages. However, I will say my change of mind started with her – because of her, I started to look at Big Rapids as home. So if you see her this week, give her a big “Thank you” for me.

The Pioneer newspaper has been such an important piece of my life for more than half a decade, which is why it is so difficult for me to say goodbye. There are so many people who I want to thank for making my tenure here the wonderful and challenging experience it has been. But again, it’s a space issue.

From contacts to coworkers, if I’ve ever spoke to you as a representative of the Pioneer, thank you for everything.

If you haven’t guessed it, this is my farewell column. … But it certainly is not goodbye.

Although I am bidding adieu to my newspaper family, newspaper lifestyle and unusual newspaper work schedule, I am going to continue to live, work and be active in Mecosta County.

Many of you have heard through the grapevine or saw my announcement on Facebook earlier this week, but for those who don’t know, this is my last week at the newspaper. As you are reading this today, I am preparing to go to work to put together my last edition of the Pioneer.

Come Monday, I will be the new business services specialist at Michigan Works! West Central. I will be helping to boost our local workforce and economy by matching job seekers with area employers; facilitating employer job fairs, open houses and forums; promoting Michigan Works! programs; and so much more.

I feel this new position will help me have a more direct impact on the strength and vitality of our community and beyond. Michigan Works! West Central covers a six-county region, including Mecosta, Osceola, Lake, Newaygo, Mason and Oceana counties. I want to do everything I can to help them all thrive.

I am excited to take on this new job and be active in the community once more. I look forward to working with people from all walks of life and businesses of all types.

Now when you see my name in the newspaper, it will no longer as a story byline, but rather as an active community member. … I just hope they keep me out of the funny pages.

Thank you all for making my experience at the Pioneer wonderful. It’s been real.

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Posted by Jonathan Eppley

Jonathan Eppley is news editor for the Pioneer. He designs and copy edits the Pioneer daily, and manages staff in the evening. Eppley joined the Pioneer staff in 2010. He can be reached at (231) 592-8357 or at jeppley@pioneergroup.com.

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