The time has come to call it a day in West Liberty.
Yes, the rumors are true. I am planning to leave the West Liberty Index as the weekly newspaper’s editor. I’m not exactly sure when that day will come, but it will take place before the end of July, for sure, pending a few things.
When I came here in June of 2019, I thought I was going to be doing some consulting work with the former editor, Jacob Lane, who is now with the city of West Liberty in communications – a job right down Jake’s alley. Instead, I took his seat as Index Editor.
I never planned to be here more than a few months, let alone three years, but West Liberty kind of grows on you – its down-to-earth people, its culture and its friendliness.
I’ve been driving 100 miles a day round trip from Moline to put together an Index every week and, after winning all those first place awards from the Iowa Newspaper Association last month, it makes for a great way to leave.
Between the fire fighters and the city, they’ve given us great material to write about every week for nearly a year, plus I got lucky with that bubble picture at the Children’s Festival and I couldn’t be more proud of the Latino Culture page that won for Community Leadership. That’s as much a credit to my publisher, Bill Tubbs, as anyone as he encouraged and helped us put together a great grant proposal that helped fund that page.
I do feel like I’ve accomplished a lot here – getting back to an editor’s seat after many years of not playing that role, instead active as general manager or publisher for at least the previous 25 years of my career. It’s been a lot of fun, although sometimes frustrating trying to get names spelled correctly, learning where things are located or even meeting deadlines.
I am 68 and tried to retire a few years ago and couldn’t do it. Somehow, going to work makes one healthier – not that sitting behind a desk most of the day is good for anyone – but it kept me active mentally and gave me something to get out of bed to accomplish every week. But those long Monday and Tuesdays (most weeks I would put in 20-24 hours in those two days alone) shows me I’m not as young as I used to be.
I still hope to be able to work – at least part time – because, well, that’s what I’ve done since I was in high school and it gives me a purpose. I look back on my life and there’s no doubt I’ve accomplished quite a bit – from winning dozens of journalism awards to being named the Advertising Manager of the Year in Illinois to being general manager of the best weekly in Illinois.
I’ve also had success personally as a member of various civic organizations, from serving as president of a Rotary Club and Lions Club, festival committees, Chamber of Commerce Boards, to the Illinois Press Association board, I can honestly say it’s been a fun ride.
I’m confident the newspaper will be in good hands with Xiomara Levsen at the helm. I’m just getting to know her as well, but she has a lot more energy than I do and a lot of talent and experience in journalism that will benefit the community. I wish her nothing but the best.
I also want to thank Bill and Linda Tubbs of the North Scott Press in Eldridge, owners of the Index, for giving me this opportunity so late in my life. I know Bill didn’t want me to leave, but I will continue as a consultant and maybe even write a story or two for his papers from time to time.
I also want to thank my wife, Luanne, for her support through the years and she’s given me two great, talented and highly successful kids that have led to six grandchildren (three boys, three girls), with a tiebreaker on the way.
I can say I’ve truly loved Iowa. It’s given me a lot of pleasure to work here for the third time in my life. West Liberty has a great future ahead and there continues to be some great things happening – from a new plant for West Liberty Foods to school facilities that will be second to no other community in the area, new housing, new business and, hopefully, better communication.
I will leave part of me in West Liberty. Everyone has been good to me, but my goal every week was to give you something local to read about because that’s what good weekly newspapers are all about – getting local news in the hands of readers. I wish I could have done a better job getting even more in the paper, but there were a lot of weeks I was pretty proud of what we produced as a one-man show with a few correspondents and photographers including the Beckers, Phyllis Owen Sterba, Chari Esmoil, Kohlton Kober, Mark Plum, Vanessa Espinoza and Stephanie Valez. I also can’t forget all the help I received from my office and company peers.
Now it’s time to unofficially retire, do some traveling, enjoy my kids and grandkids more and try to continue to stay active in writing and newspaper consulting. Thank you West Liberty!
Onward, upward, outward.
Tim Evans has been editor of the West Liberty Index since June 2019 and is an award-winning writer, including a two-time Iowa Newspaper Association Master Columnist. He can be contacted by cell phone (even after he leaves the Index) at 217-840-8704 or by e-mail at indexnews@Lcom.net.