It’s safe to say I had no idea how much I would fall in love with this community when I moved here three-and-a-half years ago.

I penned a welcome column a couple of days after my arrival in 2018 expressing my excitement about the years ahead.

Now, I write to you to let you know that our time together is coming to an end.

I will be leaving the Record-Eagle and heading West for new opportunities at the end of the week, but I could not leave without telling the community how much you mean to me.

Reflecting is always a funny thing.

It has a way of showing you both the good and the bad, but when you really focus … it’s easy to see what really matters.

It’s about the people, the community, the kids and each of your stories.

It has been an absolute pleasure to be involved in so many incredible stories, moments and hardships that so many of you have faced.

From covering state championship runs filled with emotions to finding out why events like the White Pine Stampede mean so much, sports gave me a chance to get to know many of you. For that I will be forever grateful.

I came here to grow as a person, journalist and member of the community and I wouldn’t have been able to do that without you.

There have been hundreds of you who have been amazing sources for information throughout northern Michigan and I thank you for trusting me with your words. Coaches, parents, athletes, administrators, directors, doctors, nurses and volunteers have all been wonderful resources and your help cannot go unnoticed.

The last couple of years have been tough for everyone, navigating the pandemic and adapting day after day. Watching this community band together and fight a worldwide pandemic was something to behold, especially when you saw how a lot of areas reacted to COVID-19.

It’s glaringly obvious how much each one of you love each other and this beautiful place we get to call home. Rivalry games between Traverse City Central and Traverse City West are always billed as blood matches but in reality it is a bunch of friends competing against each other. There isn’t hate, there is love here.

There are literally too many reasons to list about why Traverse City and the rest of northern Michigan will always hold a special place in my heart.

I like to think in my short time here that I became part of that community and I want to thank you one last time for welcoming me with open arms and helping me to be the best I can be for the rest of you.

It’s been a pleasure, northern Michigan, but it is time to say goodbye.

Follow Jake on Twitter

@JakeAtnip

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