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Missoula kid says goodbye to Lake County

by Max Dupras/ Intern Reporter
| August 24, 2023 12:00 AM

Lake County, it is finally time to say goodbye. Polson has been my temporary home for the past eight weeks and I have loved every minute of it.

I have had the chance to cover a wide array of issues from annexations to school districts and even a new football coach in St. Ignatius.

One of the most important parts of being a student journalist is learning from the best and I think I have found some of the best across this county.

I hail from Missoula, the closest thing you can get to a big city in the mostly rural communities of Montana. I live like most Montanans by enjoying the beauty of this state, finding time to kick back and take in the mountains on hot summer days (when the smoke is gone, of course) or taking some time to enjoy the snowy landscape we call home.

But Lake County is different from anywhere I have been in this state. It is filled with unique issues and interesting people to solve them.

I have had the privilege of meeting people who care deeply about the place they come from. Issues like traffic, road work and, weirdly enough, chickens in city limits make the towns here so interesting.

If you stay somewhere long enough, you get a glimpse at what people truly love and I have been to few places where people love where they are from like the residents of Lake County.

You are all passionate about making life simple. While I was working every day here, life felt like a breeze. Not to mention, you are all very nice and I thank you for your hospitality.

Now, for the hard part, leaving the Leader. Every day in the Leader office has been one to remember. I was the only guy in the office for many of the days here and I was worried I would make people uncomfortable – just by being a guy.

But the crew treated me like one of their own. Thank you to Laurie, Julie, Andrea and Charlene for always cracking a joke, making me smile and being the best at making this homesick kid feel at home.

Now, for my partners in crime, Kristi Niemeyer and Berl Tiskus.

Where do I start? You two made me feel welcome instantly, showing me around and letting me do what I needed to do to develop as a writer, photographer and person.

The best journalists make others better and you two did that tenfold.

Berl, yours was a smile I loved to see when I walked into the office and you were never afraid to get to know me. I will forever appreciate your willingness to dig deeper and I hope to catch up with you about your recent cruise someday.

Kristi, it is impossible to tell you how much this experience has meant. I remember getting that email from you, saying you wanted to take me on as an intern here. The initial excitement was enough to make me jump up and call you immediately. From there, you helped get me acclimated to Polson and the amazing places I would get to cover.

I am a better man than I was coming in. I dedicate my development to you. You helped me become a better reporter, finding the right questions to ask and feeling confident about how I reported. You made me a better writer by telling me how it is, which everyone needs to hear.

You also showed me what compassion looks like in journalism. Your care for a newspaper like the Leader does not go unnoticed. I am thrilled to see what you have in store for it.

This place is great and it signals a time in my life when things are rapidly changing. I will graduate this upcoming spring and plan to move out of state, something I have never done before.

That makes this goodbye hard. This will most likely be my last internship in the Big Sky State. So, to those I covered, thank you for your time. It is hard to explain my gratitude to those who wanted to sit and talk with a young student journalist like me.

This might not be a complete goodbye, but it might be a while before I revisit the amazing sights and people across Lake County. But, just know, I am forever grateful for getting to cover you.