A happy new year, from the new guy in town

Happy New Year, Big Timber.

I can’t think of a better, more challenging way to begin 2018 than with a new job in a new home. 

Anyone who has moved around a bit knows what a humbling experience it can be to join a new community. There is no law requiring members of the community to accept you as one of their own. Without the bonds of locality, one must trust in the broader bonds we share as Americans and as people. 

I’ve been at the mercy of Big Timber for exactly one week now, and it has been truly invigorating. Warmth, charity and new fellowship seem to await me at every turn. Still, a number of folks have asked what brought me all the way from Springfield, Mo., up to Big Timber, Mont. 

On one hand, I am not 100 percent sure. Fast-forward several inches of snow (as I write, the snowstorm is well into its second day) and the question takes a philosophical turn: What did bring me here?

I am tempted to tell folks that it was the Internet. Besides containing a strong kernel of truth, the response also raises eyebrows. Say it aloud and it sounds somewhat irresponsible: I moved to Montana in the middle of winter at the behest of a global computer network.

Of course, it’s only the partial truth. I found the reporting job online, then interviewed with editors and publishers at Yellowstone Newspapers. When they offered me the job I closed my eyes and visualized the Crazies. My alpine skis, leftover from my days as a Colorado man, stared longingly from the far corner of my Missouri bedroom. Rust had gathered on the stainless steel edges, a symptom of Midwestern humidity. Outside it was mid-December and above 60 degrees. 

I said yes.

Big Timber is lucky to have a thriving local newspaper — they are becoming increasingly rare in Big Timber-sized towns. I am even luckier to be a part of The Pioneer.  We are a relatively new news team, but we have ingenuity and pluck. Whether it’s covering breaking news or unearthing stories old and untold, my aim is to be readable, accessible, relevant and, above all, honest. If I am to succeed, I’ll need your input and your feedback every step of the way. 

Chris Aiken, Pioneer reporter



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