Archived Story

Some people say that there’s a woman to blame [UPDATED]

Published 8:22am Wednesday, March 16, 2011 Updated 2:13pm Friday, March 18, 2011

There’s no simple way to say it so I’m just going to blurt it out.

As I write this I have just three days left at The Daily Journal and only five days remaining as a resident of Fergus Falls.

There! I said it!

It’s been hard to accept those words — made simpler only by the fact that I can quote Jimmy Buffett and Margaritaville in saying that “Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame,” and in my case it’s Sara Piekarski’s fault. Or at least that’s what I’ve begun telling people.

Sara, the general manager of the AmericInn in Fergus Falls, was promoted to director of sales and marketing for the hotel’s management company. The manager of the St. Cloud AmericInn will be moving to the Fergus Falls location. My wife, Kathy, has accepted a wonderful promotion as the general manager of the St. Cloud AmericInn.

I’m excited because I’ve been able to watch some of Kathy’s dreams come true.

She had always wanted to go to college. So when she moved to Fergus Falls she enrolled at M State, began pursuing her business degree and celebrated with three straight semesters on the President’s List.

After taking a part-time job at AmericInn, she quickly realized she had another dream, and that was to use her degree as a stepping stone to someday manage a hotel. That became a reality just a few weeks ago.

Having two dreams come true. That’s pretty awesome and I’m proud of her. I also know how important those dreams are and why you should never turn your back on those dreams.

In June 2007, Dave Churchill and Joel Myhre made one of my dreams come true when they hired me as managing editor of The Daily Journal. I owe them both a lot of gratitude for what they’ve taught me over the course of the past four years. To me, they have been great teachers.

I bleed Daily Journal blue and will for a long, long time. The Journal hasn’t just been a place I go to work. I have a strong passion for the newspaper business and it’s been a labor of love working with reporters Tom Hintgen, Sue Larson, Lauren Radomski, Trisha Marczak, Debbie Irmen, Ryan Howard, Marie Roggenkamp, my sports crew of Zach Stich and Josh Julius, and others as we’ve worked to share the stories of a community whose residents were not only our readers, but who quickly became my neighbors and friends.

Being in the newspaper business I’ve always been kind of nomadic. OK, very nomadic.

Kathy and I have traveled from my first newspaper job in Milaca to Glenwood City, Wis., and then to Chippewa Falls, Wis., the place we raised our boys and always called home. We journeyed to Des Moines, Iowa, and back to Chippewa Falls. Those who know Kathy and I realize we won’t stop until we’re someday on an island in the Florida Keys.

But now, I’m off to Princeton where come Monday morning I will take the editorial reigns of The Princeton Union-Eagle, a newspaper owned by ECM Publishers, Inc.

It’s a special move to me because I have ECM DNA. ECM was founded by former Gov. Elmer Andersen and the company hired me for my first newspaper job at the Mille Lacs County Times back in 1993. It’s an honor to be moving to the flagship paper of ECM and the first newspaper Andersen purchased when he entered the newspaper business. In Princeton I look forward to renewing many old friendships.

But I will sorely miss the relationships I have made in Fergus Falls.

Almost four years ago I learned an important lesson from my son, Joshua, while he was attending Fergus Falls Middle School: “Otters are Always Otters.” I’ve have come to love being a Fergus Falls Otter and am proud to be adopted into the Otter Nation.

To our readers: It’s been an honor coming into your homes every night and bringing you the news of our community. To my friends at the Fergus Falls Noon Rotary: You are the best friends and support system a guy could ask for and I am truly a better person for having known you all. To The Daily Journal crew: You have been one of the most important parts of my life and you’ll always be family. To Dave and Joel: I once again give you my utmost gratitude for all you’ve done.

Yes, saying goodbye is hard.

But it’s just a shade bit easier knowing that I can blame it on Sara.

Jeff Hage is the managing editor of The daily Journal. Reach him by email at

  • WilliamB

    Jeff, You will be missed. Thanks for everything you have done while you have been here.

  • Keith Olson

    Jeff, We’ll miss you at Rotary! Thanks for all your efforts. Best of luck to you and Kathy.

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