A farewell from Courtney Lamdin

I’m writing to you with some news of my own: Last Friday was my final day at the Milton Independent after almost nine-and-a-half years.

When I started at the Indy in September 2009, I was 22, fresh out of college, without a gray hair to my name. This was my first job in journalism, a craft I discovered in high school after reading “All the President’s Men.” I imagined myself the next Woodward or Bernstein, chasing down the story, holding the powerful accountable like my professors preached — the youthful idealism in my cup runneth over.

And to a degree, I found that here. I may not have taken down the leader of the free world, but I can perhaps list a superintendent in my accountability body count. I’ve made change. I’ve made a name for myself, and now it’s time to move on.

When I reflect on my career, the small moments, the people I met and places I went are at the forefront. I practically lived at the school and town offices, covering countless meetings for countless hours, but this job took me so many other places.

Like to the passenger seat of Bruce Trombly’s plow truck as he barrelled down Route 7 during a Valentine’s Day storm. Or behind a dumpster at Catamount Industrial Park where I waited for Milton’s K9 Hatchi to track me down. I knew the dog was friendly, but I couldn’t help being a little scared as I waited in the dark with only my measured breaths and a few spiders keeping me company.

Or to Gil Rhoades’ junkyard, home of Milton’s infamous tire pile. To my knowledge, it’s still there and hasn’t caught fire (yet), so we can count that among our blessings. I’ll never forget the wily Gil with his Amish-like beard and suspenders and penchant for curses like “horse hockey.”

I got drenched in the dunk tank at many a National Night Out, learning the cold way that Milton kids have pretty good aim. I covered the sunrise opening of the Milton Hannaford, a story whose significance was not lost on Miltonians but was pretty much on everyone else. I hiked up Eagle Mountain, before and after the wildfire. I waited on the tarmac when Milton airmen deployed just before Christmas. I reported from Vermont’s Statehouse and the White House.

But most of the time, I was invited into your homes and your lives. I was consistently amazed Miltonians were so willing to share their stories with me, essentially a complete stranger with a notebook and a pen.

Overall, you made it easy, though I had plenty of difficult moments. I got called “little girl” and received anonymous, threatening letters. I’ve been hung up on, berated and ignored. But that’s not how I’ll remember my time in Milton.

I’ll most remember the times our neighbors at 69 Main St. brought us Easy Mac or homemade beef stew or something from the grill, just because they saw we were still at the office. Or when former firefighter/EMT Tony Lauzon offered us a warm apartment to sleep in when an ice storm impeded our drive home after a late Town Meeting night.

Or when Deb Dolby saw me taking photos on my first-ever week on the job and offered me a tour of her B&B and some fresh scones. Or when Sgt. Paul Locke, on parade duty, let me hop in his police cruiser so I could warm my frozen fingers. Or when then-Rep. Don Turner sponsored a House resolution for my great-grandfather’s 100th birthday and came to his funeral when he died a few weeks later.

I could truly go on and on, but I’m sure I’ve exceeded the Indy’s word count for letters. As I look toward my next endeavor in Vermont journalism, I can only say thank you, Milton. You made me part of this community, and I could not be more grateful.

Courtney A. Lamdin