“I don’t believe in coincidence.”
I wrote those words to begin my inaugural Out and About column, published exactly one month after I stepped into the Tooele Transcript Bulletin newsroom for the first time on July 13, 2015.
Seventeen months have passed, and I still stand by my statement. It was no coincidence that I joined this staff; it was a higher power at work.
My time in Tooele has greatly enriched my life. At the Transcript Bulletin, I experienced challenges that facilitated great personal growth.
At the same time, I found mentors who helped me grow. Editor Dave Bern was one; he helped me transition smoothly back into journalism and then taught me the basics of editing and production.
Staff writer Tim Gillie was another; I could always count on him to help me find what I needed for my stories, even when I wasn’t quite sure what to look for.
I made lifelong friends: I enjoy working not only with Dave and Tim, but also with Steve Howe, Tavin Stucki, Darren Vaughan, Liz Arellano and John Hamilton. We have the best discussions in the newsroom about everything from politics and applesauce to Star Wars and Star Trek.
Photographer Francie Aufdemorte quickly became my favorite coworker, thanks to her friendly personality and constant acts of kindness. She’s the queen of funny stories and the glue holding us all together.
Francie and I had some good times traveling to Wendover and Ibapah for stories about the Bonneville Salt Flats and Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation. We also spent a lot of time putting together my favorite story, an adventure that took us through seven hamburger joints for Tooele County Magazine.
My favorite memories of Tooele, however, were not made while I was on the clock. For a few months during the summer, I enjoyed seeing movies at the Ritz (discount movie theater) on a regular basis.
Even better, the people in the newsroom held activities every few months. Together, we would go out to lunch or hold bowling tournaments at All-Star Bowling & Entertainment. We talked, we played and we laughed.
Once a year, we also enjoyed home-cooked barbecue at the home of publisher emeritus Joel Dunn. Although Joel’s sons now run the day-to-day affairs of Transcript Bulletin Publishing, he loves to be involved in the newspaper and attends our staff meetings regularly.
I was happy here, and for a while I felt I would never leave.
Then I started dating Clayton Pettit, a young man who lives in my hometown of Lehi. A few months ago, when we decided to get married on Nov. 26, I knew finding him was no coincidence. We are about to begin a new chapter of life together.
Unfortunately, part of that new chapter involves me moving out of Tooele and changing jobs. But although it’s hard to say good-bye, I take comfort in the knowledge that I will always be welcome here in the community and with my friends.
I’m grateful to all those who have helped me do my job at the Transcript Bulletin. To Mayor Patrick Dunlavy and my contacts at Tooele City Hall; members of the board of health and Tooele County Health Department; leaders and members of the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation; local drama directors and church leaders; and many others: thank you. It was a pleasure to work with you.
To my editor, Dave Bern, and the other reporters in the newsroom: see you later, because I don’t intend to walk out of your lives forever. I wish you the best in your efforts to keep the people of Tooele County well-informed. Thank you for everything. We sure had a good time!
Jessica Henrie is going on to new adventures with a husband and a new job. Send her a note of appreciation or well wishes at firstname.lastname@example.org.