Goodbye to the White Mountains, but to forgotten

McNary Elementary School students of the month for February send best wishes and thanks to Corrine Ruiz and the White Mountain Independent for all they have done for us. Back row: Preston Alderette, Keeghan Livingston, Alaina Lavendar. Front row: Ellena Kinney, Sirii Benavides, Candace Armstrong, Aidan Kinney, Ondrade Tessay

Saying goodbye is never easy, especially after working at the White Mountain Independent for 23 years. My husband and I have made the decision to move back to the Valley to spend much-needed time with our family and friends. There has never been enough time to see everyone on a weekend or even an extended weekend since they live from Mesa all the way to Peoria. I have been thankful for Facebook to be able to keep up with changes and watch everyone’s lives unfold on the social media site, but it’s not the same.

Saying goodbye will be especially hard to all the people I have worked with and those I have came in contact with through my job. The stories I have written about community members have always been a learning experience for me. I will never get tired of hearing someone’s story. That is the best part of this job — everyone has a story.

Working for WMI has been a great time of accomplishments, I had no idea what I would experience when I started in the classified department the last Friday in March in 1997, working with Sally Moreno. I found her to be just the sweetest woman to work with and when she passed away suddenly, it left a gaping hole at WMI and our staff.

Times were so different in ’97. Coming from the hustle and bustle of the Valley, it was quite a shock moving to a small town, but we have called the Mountain home. We lived through the Rodeo-Chediski fire, evacuating to Springerville for a week — something I don’t ever want to experience again, but looking back, I wouldn’t have changed that. WMI was sought after as far as Canada for photos and info on a fire that was called “the Monster.” The team of staff and reporters we had covering the fire and Terry Corrigan made that time very exciting, WMI was the hub for information because Facebook wasn’t around back then. I am grateful to have been asked to have my photo in Jim Paxson’s book on page 67, if you have that book. WMI also gave me the opportunity to lay out “Arizona: The Making of a State” centennial book working closely with Jo Baeza, the master book author and learning through her was an experience in itself. She was a remarkable woman and I will never forget her.

I am so grateful to the Kramer family for giving me the liberty to explore my abilities in writing, photography and page design, something I have loved to do. What I have learned has always been on-the-job.

I would like to say a special thank you to the McNary School and its staff. They brought a special “thank you” banner to work they rushed to put together when they found out I was leaving. I am including that photo. I would also like to thank Joan Courtney for all the seasonal cards she has sent me through the years and Jean Lee for the beautiful flowers of appreciation. A special thank you to the High Country Barbershop Chorus who sang to me every Valentine’s Day for the past (approximately) 10 years. I will cherish the forever friendships formed while here the last 23 years. I can’t name everyone because I am afraid I would leave someone out.

Most of all I will never forget the beauty of the White Mountains. I have many memories that fill my heart with joy and will remember them for the rest of my life. On to new adventures. I won’t be far though. You can reach me by email at: corrineruiz9559@gmail.com.

You can still send your press releases, columns, etc to my email at cruiz@wmicentral.com. They will be rerouted to the new staff that will take my place.

Reach the reporter at

cruiz@wmicentral.com

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