Reporting Aside

December 29, 2013

Making our way in our new Waterville home

I’m sitting at my new desk at the Morning Sentinel, having moved with my colleagues a week ago from the second to the first floor of the newspaper building on Front Street.

I always say we can be assured of two things in life: change and death.

With that in mind, I sit at my new desk at the Morning Sentinel, having moved with my colleagues a week ago from the second to the first floor of the newspaper building on Front Street.

A doctor bought the building and will open offices on the second floor in about a year. The Sentinel is leasing the entire first floor, half of which has been renovated and turned into the new newsroom.

The advertising department has moved temporarily from the first to the second floor, in the former newsroom space, and will stay there a few weeks until its first-floor space is renovated.

It is a good change, a nice beginning for the new year.

Our newsroom is a bit smaller, but configured to be more user-friendly. Walls were torn out, carpet laid and walls painted. It’s a fresh, colorful space.

We are happy to remain in the city’s downtown.

I have to admit, though, that leaving my desk of 16 years on the second floor was bittersweet.

It seems like yesterday that we moved from the old, worn out Sentinel building on The Concourse in 1997 to our new building on Front Street. It was a large, clean space overlooking the Kennebec River to the east and Castonguay Square and City Hall to the west, and the change was refreshing.

What a view we had from that second floor.

Many summers, we reporters and editors watched bald eagles soar over the river, searching for food. When the police scanner squawked and sirens blared nearby, we needed only run to the window to see what was happening. Sometimes, we’d see accidents or cars going the wrong way down the one-way street; in the spring, we could look to the north from the lunchroom window and see the street flooding at the intersection of Union Street.

We’ve lost some of that view with our move to the first floor, but still can see downtown to the west and the railroad tracks to the north.

The employees in advertising have been telling us how much they like the view up there on the second floor, and we realize what we’ve lost.

But access to the newsroom is easier, both for employees and the public, and we no longer have to climb stairs or take the elevator. Our work space is updated and we continue to do the work we love.

Sixteen years ago, we watched the wrecking ball strike the old Sentinel building on the Silver Street end of The Concourse. I remember standing in the parking lot, watching the walls of the newsroom come down and thinking about how strange it was to see my old desk up there on the second floor, soon to be obliterated. We reporters had written messages on the newsroom walls including “Parting is such sweet sorrow ...” and we watched the messages crumble with the debris.

I have a lot of good memories of being in that building with writers Clayton LaVerdiere, Gene Letourneau and Gerry Boyle, editor Robert Fowles and other colleagues.

Clayton and Gene are gone now; Gerry is writing mystery novels and working at Colby College, and Bob is retired, living in Auburn and reading the Sentinel every chance he gets. He often calls me to complain when television news stations use Sentinel stories and attribute them to the Kennebec Journal, our sister paper in Augusta. He was, and continues to be, a dedicated Sentinel man, through and through.

We were thrilled to break ground on this Front Street building in 1997. When it was completed, we were like kids, scouting the new newsroom for what desks we wanted.

We had 16 years up there, covering events including 9/11, the death of Princess Di, Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa and John Kennedy Jr., three Red Sox World Series wins, Columbine, Hurricane Katrina, the Bush-Gore presidential election recount and the Boston Marathon bombing.

During that time, some newsroom staffers retired or found other jobs, new people were hired, and those of us who stayed on are seeing yet another change.

But our jobs are such that we really could do them anywhere, and the fact that we remain on this spot, and with each other, is reassuring.

We’re kind of like a family that leaves a nice house and moves into a new one.

It’s different, but the players are the same, and we’re making it our own.

It’s an ending, but also a beginning, much like the new year.

Change can be unsettling, but we embrace it and move on to new opportunities.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 25 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at acalder@centralmaine.com.

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