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FROM THE PINE JOURNAL STAFF: One of a kind

This week's paper is, rightly, the Wendy Johnson issue. Over the past 21 years, Wendy has been editor and then publisher, through happy times and sad, outlasting some 30 employees and at least four different newspaper owners. Now she is retiring,...

 

This week’s paper is, rightly, the Wendy Johnson issue.

Over the past 21 years, Wendy has been editor and then publisher, through happy times and sad, outlasting some 30 employees and at least four different newspaper owners. Now she is retiring, and we will miss her … terribly.

Writing an average - this is an educated guess here - of probably six stories a week, that comes out to more than 6,550 stories about Carlton County. Those are stories about you, your neighbors, your family, crime, politics, kids, animals, celebrations, deaths, disasters, schools, stunts, you name it.

Imagine how many interviews she’s been part of, how many photos she has taken, how much knowledge is buried in that head of hers … it’s mind boggling. We hope that the residents of Carlton County, and especially Cloquet, understand how lucky they’ve been to have such a talented person devote herself to telling their stories for so long.

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Although she could (and did) write about just about anything, Wendy did have her specialties.

She was the “animal beat reporter” in addition to her regular coverage of the Carlton County Board of Commissioners. If you don’t think animals merit coverage, just cast your eye down the rest of this page and read the letters about last week’s “Trapped!” story. We got a greater response to that story - and reached a much wider online audience - than nearly any other.

If you were lucky enough to be featured in one of her Our Neighbors stories, your life story (to that point) has been written, and written well. Yes, the photos might have been on the small side, but that’s because Wendy found your whole life too important to cut anything out, and she had a way of weaving it all together that made those stories an easy read.

And you (or your parents) are not the only ones who saved that story. The folks at the Carlton County Historical Society keep a special file of the “Our Neighbors” stories, because they feel that the stories really do tell the tales of the people who live here.

They are a part of history, in fact.

Ironically perhaps, but not surprisingly, Wendy declined to be the subject of her own “Our Neighbors” story after announcing that she would retire following the publication of today’s issue of the Pine Journal.

“I’ve been writing my story in my column all these years,” she said. “And I’m sure people are sick of reading about me.”

Judging by the number of calls we’ve had since she announced - in her Backyard column, where else? - her pending retirement, Wendy has many friends and fans in the community who aren’t tired of reading her stories.

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We hope all of you will find time today (Thursday, April 2) to attend the open house for Wendy from 3-6 p.m. at the Pine Journal office, 122 Avenue C, in West End Cloquet.

As a highlight, we are planning to take a group photo of Johnson with anyone who’s been featured in the Our Neighbors page over the past 21 years … it will be a wonderful way to actually illustrate some of the many lives she has touched over the years.

We hope you will join us in celebrating the special woman who has steered the ship at the Pine Journal for the past 21 years.

We will miss you, Wendy Johnson, but we wish you all the best in this next chapter of your life!

~ Julie Schulz, Scott Blatchford, Jana Peterson, Barbie Into, Deb Zime, Jamie Lund

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