- By Dan Veaner
This is my last chance to pontificate on our Opinions page. This issue is my last as editor, pencil sharpener (yup pencils, even for an online publication) and reporter for the Lansing Star. Or should I say publisher, editor, reporter, complaints department, filing clerk, receptionist, technical support person, and janitor? The Lansing Star is a mom and pop business (I'm the pop) so we do just about everything. But mostly it's been about popping out a new issue every week, and periodically trying to fix technical problems when they arise.
It's been a good 15+ years. At this point, putting togher my final issue, I am thinking about the dolphins trying to leave humanity a message as they abandon the planet shortly before the Earth is destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass in Douglas Adams's book The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy (book four in the trilogy).
Their message? "So long, and thanks for all the fish."
Thank you to the long line of contributors, who donated wonderful columns, news articles, cartoons, and sports reports over the years. I don't want to name all the names because I am certain I would inadvertently leave someone out. You all have enjoyed their contributions. I am grateful for the work and caring about our community that every single contributor exhibited with every single submission.
The most recent, of course, is Casey Stevens, whose 151st 'Thoughts' column is gracing the Opinions page in this week's issue. His first column was in the October 6, 2017 issue, and he has been going strong without missing an issue ever since, despite online connectivity issues the pandemic brought. During several weeks when he had no Internet access Casey agreed to dictate his columns over the phone so I could record them and run them through an artificial intelligence transcription service -- and he never complained about the resulting inevitable typos that slipped through my three passes of editing. he is a remarkable person and we've been blessed to have his 'Thoughts'.
There have been a lot of good fish over the years. When we started the Star 15 1/2 years ago we got a lot of encouragement from the publishers of the previous Lansing newspaper, Matthew and Aline Shulman, plus the late Lansing Funeral Home owner Kirk Shreve, and the late Lansing Town Supervisor Steve Farkas. We hoped to fill at least part of the hole left when the Shulmans stopped publishing.
I had just learned I'd have to move to Virginia to continue working for the large online company I had been remotely working for. Karen and I took a weekend to look at real estate and to ask my fellow employees who lived there about communities, commute times, and so on. This was just before the real estate bubble burst,so home prices that would have been high anyway were extra high. On the way home in the car Karen told me she supposed she could get used to living in a much smaller space. She knew I loved working for this company, and was being supportive.
Keeping my eyes on the road I replied, "Are you crazy?"
Giving up the warm community that had been so supportive to my kids and, really, all of us to move to Virginia with less advantageous schools, church, and going into what would probably be irretrievable debt to do it just didn't make sense.
But now I had to figure out what to do for a living. Karen had the idea for a local newspaper. She knew how much the Shulman's publication was missed. Everyone told us that they felt 'in the know' when it was published, and now they felt less connected to our community. She said we could be an online 'main street' for our town that didn't have a physical main street. And it was a way I could stay in online publishing.
I didn't like the idea at first. But I gradually came to think it was something I could do, at which point Karen didn't like it any more. We finally got to a point where we both decided to give it a go, and we did our research, and set up the website. We needed that to show to potential advertisers, because 15 years ago nobody saw the value in online advertising. And we needed advertisers, because our research showed we would not do nearly as well if we required subscriptions.
I think we slowly built a good reputation for providing Lansing and surrounding area news accurately and regularly. When we started I thought I'd never be able to fill an issue a week because how could a small community make that much news? I needn't have worried. Lansing may be small, but it's a busy place.
Busy and a lot of cool people doing a lot of amazing things. It was a privilege to be let into their lives for a brief moment, with the admission fee being to write something about them. I could go on ad nauseam, but I wont. Many wonderful people contributed articles and columns and cartoons over the years. I am not naming them because I don't want to leave anyone out. They know who they are, and, I hope, you know who they are because you have enjoyed their contributions.
I mentioned that I was the tech support person for the Star. That became vital on a few occasions.
Like the time our web hosting company was sold and the new owner disconnected the old servers before emailing me -- using an email address that was hosted on those servers -- to tell me where the Star had moved to. Since the address didn't work the first I knew of it was when our monitoring service informed me that the Lansing Star was down. It took me a day of intense Internet Sherlock Holmsing to find our website and another day or two to get it back online. And since the new company was horrid, with arrogant and unhelpful support staff, it took about three months before we were able to relocate again to the wonderful and reliable Inmotionhosting virtual server we have resided on ever since.
Somehow I also managed to get a new issue out that week.
Or the time the Star was under a severe hacker attack while (Murphy's Law) we were out of town and staying at a motel with the worst Internet service I have ever experienced. The temporary fix was to manually un-hack the site about once an hour (that was fun... not really) until we got home where I could implement a more permanent fix.
There was a lot of fun tech stuff for a techie geek like me, too, like automating the changeover between issues so I didn't have to do it manually after midnight every Friday (as I did for at least a year when we started).
We are still hoping for a buyer. If this is something you think you would like to do, or if you know someone who is interested in doing it, please contact us at https://www.lansingstar.com/purchase. Our perfect first choice is for a buyer who loves the Lansing community and wants to continue to be a part of it, connecting residents, Lansing ex-patriots, and anybody, really, to our wonderful, caring community.
In the meanwhile I have been donating copies of each issue to our remarkable Town Historian Louise Bement, who also contributed to the Star, most notably (but not exclusively) her Lansing Bicentennial Minutes series. She became a good friend, and I still maintain that Louise is the coolest person in Lansing. Shortly after the holidays her Lansing Star collection will be complete, so the 15+ years of Lansing reporting (plus things like weather, gas prices, and such) will be preserved in the town historical archive.
As for me, it's time to go. I am enjoying spending my time and making silly harp videos, because especially this year our world needs something just carefree and silly (with a harp in it). But for a guy who had lots of issues (one a week) I am hoping for a serene retirement with - I hope - no serious issues or weekly ones.
To all of our readers and advertisers, contributors and to our local newsmakers: So long... and thanks for all the fish!