Gray Matters — The Triage Trio

By Tanya Mitchell

Well, folks, a lot has happened in the seven years since the last time I authored this column.

I've been raising a son who has grown into an engaging and thoughtful 7-year-old, and I married my best friend. I also got a little older — and I'd like to think a bit wiser — along the way.

Most recently, though, I became a part of something that I never thought I would have to be a part of. It was the veritable resuscitation of The Republican Journal, a charge that came within two weeks after the unexpected folding of all VillageSoup-owned publications in early March.

Here's where I have to back up a bit and explain my state of mind at that time, not only as a former VillageSoup employee, but as a reporter who spent the better part of her 15-year career at one of the state's oldest weekly newspapers.

When our managing editor, Dan Dunkle, initially asked me to come back to work for the newly minted Courier Publications LLC and help bring The Journal back to the community, I accepted the offer immediately. After all, The Journal, like the two Knox County publications that are also under Courier ownership, deserved to live, and the readers certainly seemed to want it back on the newsstands. It was, in fact, what Mainers like to call a "no-brainah," and I must admit I have a soft spot for the paper on which I built my own career.

There were just a handful of us who arrived at The Journal office those first few exciting (and sometimes terrifying) weeks. Stephanie Grinnell, associate editor at The Camden Herald and a former Journal copy editor, agreed to come to Belfast to help me generate news content and edit press releases, while Pam Schultz was selling ads like a mad woman to help support our new product.

Those first weeks were as exhausting as they were exhilarating, and though we were always tired and a little bit stressed, I can honestly say the three of us had quite a good time along the way. We even gave ourselves what we found to be a fitting nickname — the Triage Trio.

But as it turned out, The Journal had help from many more than just the three of us who practically lived at 161 High Street for a time. When we took to Facebook asking locals to send us their photos from all the events we missed in the couple of weeks we were out of publication, our readers came through in a way we never expected. When we sought patience and understanding from our customers who may have had to wait longer than they normally would to place an ad because we were busy answering phones when they came by, they largely responded with a smile and something along the lines of, "I'm just glad you're back."

Well, it is nice to be back. And while I am so thankful for all the support our readers have shown in the last couple of months, I would be remiss if I didn't dedicate this first column to the two ladies who came to work with me in the beginning, who kept me sane, who made me laugh until my face hurt when times were pretty rough, and who showed me what seems like an impossibility can be accomplished with a good team, a good plan and most of all, a great sense of humor.

To Pam and Stephanie (also known as two-thirds of the Triage Trio): You guys rock.