I remember walking into the Bemidji Pioneer office for the first time.
I came in the front door, walked down a long hallway lined with more than 100 years of framed newspapers announcing presidential election winners, and sat in the editor’s office for my job interview as a part-timer in the sports department.
Four and a half years later, I remember walking out of the Pioneer office for the last time.
For more than 40 years, headlines about the First City on the Mississippi came out of our office on the south end of town. Stories on festivals and local businesses and sporting events -- maybe even a photo or two of Paul Bunyan -- all of it has flowed from the same location.
But there’s an air of excitement in the newsroom as we transition to a new home. Starting Monday, we’ll be next-door neighbors to McKenzie Place, operating out of a new headquarters to produce more stories on festivals and businesses and sporting events.
And, no, our work isn’t defined or confined by what building we’re in. I’d like to think we’ve proven as much in the past month, working from home while still putting out the paper on schedule. But any sort of local history has always been fun for me to dig up.
The Pioneer used to operate from the corner of 5th and Beltrami, most recently the home of The Cell Phone Doctor downtown. In the mid-1970s, it moved to Neilson Avenue and into the current Eagles Club building. And, not long after, it transitioned next door -- the current location -- when it merged with The Advertiser.
For decades, the Pioneer’s printed newspaper rolled out of that building and onto your doorstep on a daily basis. The press stopped printing on site in May 2010, though 30 years’ worth of ink on the press room’s walls and ceiling won’t let you soon forget it used to be a fixture.
It’s fitting that one of the final things I did in the office was field a call about Jim Carrington, the legendary sports reporter whose name is synonymous with the Bemidji Pioneer. I’ve relied on his work -- more than 50 years of it -- just about any time I’ve sifted through the archives in search of some Lumberjack or Beaver history.
But change is good, as they say, and I’m not complaining about the prospect of working across the street from a Dairy Queen. So, the last time I walked out of our old building, in preparation for our move, I carried with me a box of office supplies and a feeling of excitement.
Currently, that box is sitting at home with me. But once our stay-at-home order is lifted (hopefully sooner than later), I’ll unload it all into our new office and settle into our new home.
And then we’ll get to work.
Micah Friez is a sports reporter for the Pioneer. Readers can reach him at (218) 333-9789.