Previously published in the Sauk Prairie STAR Jan. 2016
By Michael Carignan
I have served as editor of the Sauk Prairie STAR for the last 10 years and 10 months and now it is time to move on to something else. My intension is to continue writing and taking photographs but in a different genre. There are books and plays I’d like to write and more artistic photos I’d like to take.
Cheryl Sherman, Prairie du Sac village president, asked me when she heard I was retiring if I was leaving because of something someone did or said. The answer to that is an emphatic “no.” From day one, the Sauk Prairie community welcomed me as one of them and it doesn’t get any better than that. I have lived and worked in my share of communities where I was never thought of as a member of the community even if I was living there, let alone living somewhere else and commuting to work there. That acceptance has made my job so much easier. Thank you!
Because of everyone’s acceptance of me I have been able to develop many meaningful friendships and acquaintances that I will always cherish.
I published my first article and photos 41 years ago under the tutelage of my good friend Michael Irwin. I knew from that point on what I wanted to do with my life, although I was never really sold on journalism. I worked in a couple of publishing jobs and did some freelance before I finally found my way back to publishing and journalism full time some 18 years ago. If it hadn’t been for the wonderful reception by the Sauk Prairie community I probably would have moved on to something else much sooner.
Shortly before this past Christmas a met a person for the first time and during our conversation, when he discovered what I do and that I was retiring, he asked me what was the most memorable story or stories I had written during my career. I had never really given that question much thought because I’ve always felt the next stories will be the most memorable. Needless to say I gave him a somewhat lame answer.
But now that I am actually retiring I’ve given that question some serious thought. It’s funny when I think back all those years what stands out. In writing stories I’ve interacted with numerous high-profile elected officials, athletes, professors and entertainers, but it is not any of those that are truly memorable. What I remember are the stories about everyday people and how they have handled both the good and the bad times.
There was the early story I wrote about Uncle Max. He wasn’t my uncle, but the uncle of some very good friends. Max had lived and worked the land along Lake Wisconsin for his entire life. Max is still here in my heart.
Then there was the story of a young man I never met but who brought the entire Sauk Prairie community together in a tragic story. Marine Lance Corporal Nicholas Anderson’s death and the community’s reaction will always be, as sad as it was, a story I am proud to have been able to report.
And there were stories that failed as well. I once wrote a story for a sports magazine about being an equipment manager for the Rose Bowl bound Washington Huskies. I learned a lot from not getting that story published.
Being able to cover all of the growth in the Sauk Prairie community has also been memorable. The building of the new hospital, the remodeling of the Culver’s building into the Ruth Culver Community Library, the rise of the phoenix named McFarlanes’, and of course the building of Bridges Elementary and the remodel and addition to Tower Rock School all stand out.
Add in the list of all the wonderful students and teachers I’ve dealt with, and the many veterans that have served this country. Add in those that are making this world better through the promotion of renewable energy and those who do Christ’s work by spreading God’s word, and it has been an inspiring career.
One story though sticks out as the one that really affected me the most. It was a story I had to do over a couple of months while I worked in Reedsburg for the Times Press. It was a tragic, senseless story of a young teenage girl named Lydia. Lydia was a friend of my daughter. She had been to our house in North Freedom a few times. I admit I didn’t really know her well but what I did know of her was she was a pretty girl with a friendly, good nature. Lydia went to western Washington State to spend the summer with relatives. She went out for a walk one day and was never seen alive again. After searching for her for a few weeks she was found in a garbage bag, dumped in a remote area like she was garbage. I had a hard time reporting her story. I lived in western Washington for three years and return there often. The people there are much like the people in Sauk Prairie, friendly and welcoming. It’s difficult for me to think that somewhere in their midst is a monster who could do such a thing.
My list of stories could go on and on.
It’s funny how life is so circular. A thousand years ago, when I was young and still played guitar, I wrote a song titled “Tuesday.” All I remember of the lyrics are as follows:
“Tuesday and it’s time for me to go.
Tuesday, I just wanted you to know.
The feeling in my heart is strong.
How I wish you could come along.
I say goodbye to friends I’ll never see again.
And those I will, I hope they understand.
It’s just time to be movin’ on.”
Thank you everyone and may God bless. And now it’s good to be back!