Tomorrow is publisher Rita Walter's last day at Peace Arch News. Today

Tomorrow is publisher Rita Walter's last day at Peace Arch News. Today

COLUMN: Reflections on 23 years at PAN

Tomorrow I step away as publisher of the Peace Arch News with memories of wonderful people and of an inspirational community.

Tomorrow I step away as publisher of the Peace Arch News with memories of wonderful people and of an inspirational community, and more than two decades of experience at this newspaper.

Twenty-three years ago, I moved to the West Coast from Medicine Hat, Alta., and was worried about the prospect of having to work for a big-city newspaper, which I thought would be my only option. I had previously worked at a community paper, where I loved the small-town atmosphere – something I was nervous about losing.

It turns out, I need not have worried.

I spotted an ad for a sales-representative position for the Peace Arch News, applied and was accepted for an interview.

Living in Ladner at the time, I had no idea how to get to my appointment and had to ask directions to White Rock. (Remember, this is an era before Google, MapQuest and iPhones!)

Fortunately, I did find this wonderful area and discovered the warm, welcoming community I yearned for.

After eight years as a sales representative here, I was promoted to sales manager and then, three years ago, promoted to publisher.

As I reflect on my 23 years and contribute to my last issue of the Peace Arch News, I am filled with emotion.

Working closely with my talented teammates for such a long time has made them like family to me, and I will miss each and every one. The passion and dedication they bring to their jobs are two of the many reasons that we have consistently achieved such remarkable industry awards.

In addition to numerous individual accolades, during the past four years the Peace Arch News was named best community newspaper in B.C. in 2011, 2012 and 2013, best in Canada in 2012 and, most recently, we placed second in North America in the highest circulation category.

I am so very proud of my entire team for our achievements. Everyone whom I have worked with shares a passion for the community and for providing White Rock and South Surrey the best newspaper possible.

I would also like to thank this amazing community for the privilege of working together on the respected committees and boards that I have been fortunate to be a part of. The volunteerism of individuals make this community what it is.

Even though some of us do this as part of our jobs, individually we do it because we care and want to make a difference.

I have met so many of you, who give so freely of your time and energy that it has inspired me to do the same over the past years. I have always felt honoured to be approached to help out with any community event.

To all our local business people, thank you for your loyalty and friendship. It has been a pleasure and an inspiration to know you. Each of you offers so much to the residents of the Semiahmoo Peninsula.

To our entire community – many who tell me they take the time to go through our newspaper cover to cover, and share with me their accolades as well as their critiques – I value your readership.

As much as I am going to miss all of you, I am excited to start a new chapter in my life.

In January, I will be flying to Mexico with my husband, Bob, for a few months on the beach and on the golf course. When we return, we will be moving into our summer home in Harrison Hot Springs, but I will be back for lots of visits, and will continue to look forward to the next edition of the newspaper.

Please take good care,

Rita