Every year, The Free Press goes through a kind of ritual changing of the guard. The paper must be re-staffed as people graduate, burn out and move on. In my two-plus years here, I’ve watched the slow churning over of an ensemble cast of some of the most excellent people I’ve ever worked with. It’s my bittersweet duty to introduce you to the incoming staff and pay my respects to those who are leaving.

Our current News Editor, Joseph Thompson, will take over the helm this summer. Joseph’s wonky sense of humor will undoubtedly continue to rub off on the paper. He is fond of the kind of puns that make you want to roll down a window. Joseph’s puns have brought some our most lively conversations to a tooth-grinding halt. Joseph is also like the chessmaster: He uses Cyrillic characters for his signature and he’s been scheming out the next year for months. In contrast to my intuitive, haphazard approach, Joseph is a crystal-clear procedural thinker, which will serve him well as he refurbishes the paper’s constitution and overhauls our advertising department. As an Executive Editor, Joseph will be like the Linus to my Charlie Brown. By this, I mean that we are both adorable. And we both have misshapen, spheroidal melon-heads.

Richard Smart, currently a staff writer, will be next year’s News Editor. Though he’s one of our newest recruits, Richard has already produced an impressive bunch of stories for us. He’s displayed a great work ethic and a talent for explaining complicated issues with clarity and precision. Richard’s zen patience makes him ideal for the responsibilities he’ll have training and counciling new writers. I think Richard is dead-on for the direction the news department should go from where it is now.

Our Adviser, Jess Kilby, marked a year with us last March. She has proved herself to be a trusted and perceptive mentor. She also went above the call of duty when she put together a training conference in February and organized an appearance by Bill Nemitz and Greg Rec, Press Herald reporters who had been to Iraq twice together. Jess has also used her contacts in the local publishing industry to beef up our Advisory Board into quite a good tribunal, and they take pleasure in picking the paper apart every time we meet.

Lucille Siegler, our office manager, joined us early in the fall semester, and is already an invaluable member of the family. She is fantastically efficient. She whipped our chaotic paperwork into a lean, cogent system before her seat was warm. She’s also in charge of collecting money from our advertisers, and while I don’t have the numbers at hand, I know her patience and tenacity has brought us from a pretty lousy percentage of actual income to getting almost all the money we’re due. If there were more people like Lucille, I believe we would have solved that pesky world hunger problem by now. I have Lucille to thank for my sanity, and what remains of my stomach lining.

Due to my own absent-mindedness, we haven’t elected any of the rest of the new staff. I’ve seen the candidates, though, and they’re just as capable as the two I’ve been able to introduce. I’m confident the paper will be stronger next year than ever.

Josh Schlesinger is another new writer who has proved himself a key member of The Free Press community. He is going up for a couple of editorial positions. I’m sure he’ll get one, and I’m even more sure he’ll do a fine job in them. His bombastic personality and wily intellect have already produced good leads and solid reporting. I’m glad he’s sticking around.

Melissa St. Germain started as a contributing writer and has been our Production Manager for the last year. Her sense of humor has shone through in the form of stick men and some of our more sardonic house advertisements. Despite onerous commitments outside the paper, she’s put in some great creative layouts for us, and I’m pleased to report she wants to stay onboard for another year.

Tim Hofmann is in Mexico now, apparently. He was Arts and Entertainment editor for the fall semester, and came through with some of the most brilliant and bizarre stuff that’s ever found its way into the pages of The Free Press. I still miss his antics, and I’m sure he’s kicking the gonzo like a pro wherever he is.

Jennifer Blood came in when Tim went out. She’s almost done with her graduate degree in creative writing, and I’m sure that will take her to engrossing heights, even if it takes her out of the state (see her awesome story on the arts in Maine, page 10)

Iris Burke was our photography editor in the Fall semester to focus on her studies at the Maine College of Art. She was the last Free Presser who had been here longer than me. I still miss her crazy and daring personality. Joy Bennett came in to replace her, and has been rocking the photo department like a pro. She has proved herself more than up to the task. She’s a hard worker and an outspoken advocate of her beliefs. She, too, will be leaving to focus on her studies.

Our copyeditor, Sarah Hines, has endured long hours on low pay, even by Free Press standards. She’s also gone way beyond the call of duty in helping Melissa with the layout when time was short. After looking into positions all over the campus for next year, she decided to sign up for the Photography Editor position. We’re lucky to keep her. She is a quick study, and I’m sure she’ll excell at that job, just as she has at everything else.

Joe Bilancieri has been Sports Editor all year, and will sadly be leaving us. It’s a shame, too, because he’s one of the best writers we’ve ever had. He’s busted out vocab words I had to look up, which doesn’t happen often.

Resident outdoorsman and consummate smartass Erik Eisele has put out a great column all semester. He started out as a photographer, and says he’ll stay on to keep doing news stories for us next year.

Finally, I want to thank our fine illustrators: Katie Diamond, Chad Pennell, Kristina Koskela and Charlie Ashlin. The paper looks better than ever this year, and this is in large part to the the work of our diligent and inventive illustrators.

Thanks also to all those who took an interest in the paper and wrote letters to the editor. Have a splendid summer!


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