OldArchive / The Way I See It

Farewell, Wes Welcome, Rick

I likely don't need to tell you about what a great job Wes Skillings has done as editor of this newspaper over the past 24 years, if you're a regular Rocket-Courier reader you already know that.

But you should also know that it's not just his boss and readers who have recognized Wes's talent as a journalist. He's won numerous outstanding writing awards from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association over the years, which have ranked him among the best of his peers throughout the state.

So while we have been extremely fortunate to enjoy Wes's talented writing, and especially his sense of humor, for nearly a quarter-century, the time has come for a change, and this week marks the last time Wes's writing will appear in this newspaper.

When Wes started working for the Rocket-Courier back in 1986, when he replaced former editor Steffe Berdy, we were still writing our stories on typewriters; today we likely couldn't produce this newspaper if we had to use typewriters. Wes was part of our transition to the digital age when we began producing the Rocket-Courier on Apple Macintosh computers. At the time, our first Macs seemed so high tech, but by today's standards those computers were mere pea shooters, with far less memory and computing power than one of today's smart phones.

In 1986, the Rocket-Courier, like most other newspapers across the nation and especially weeklies, rarely printed color photos; today full-color photos and advertisements appear every week throughout our newspaper. Wes was part of that transition, too, and he played a major role in a significant change from laying out the paper each week by cutting and pasting, to doing the entire process on computers.

And the Rocket-Courier has enjoyed continued growth over the years Wes as served as editor, although I'll be first to admit, as is the case with most any business, we've had our ups and downs. But when Wes first came to work at the Rocket, the average size of our newspaper was about 20 pages; today it's often double that size.

So here's wishing Wes all the best in his new life. He's played an important role at this newspaper, and I thank him for his hard work and dedication. He'll tell you a bit about what lies ahead for him in his column this week.

Probably the hardest part of finding someone to replace Wes as editor was sorting through the dozens of applications we received. Along with running advertisements in this newspaper and on our website, we also posted the job with the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, and the number of applications that began arriving was astounding.

Our requirements for the Rocket-Courier's new editor were basically two-fold. We obviously wanted someone with strong writing skills and experience as a journalist, preferably with a rural community newspaper. We were also hoping to find someone familiar with the communities in our coverage area.

You might find it surprising, as I did, that we received applications from talented, experienced journalists from all across the nation. We had one applicant from Michigan, another from Maine, one from California and another from South Carolina. Some of these people were former residents of Pennsylvania who were eager to return to the Keystone State, others were just apparently looking for a change. As you might expect, most of the applications came from Pennsylvania residents, including a number of people in the Northern Tier counties.

So meet Rick Hiduk, the guy who met all of our requirements and topped the list of applicants. He comes to us from Lancaster County, where he served as reporter, photographer and editor for three weekly publications. He grew up in Towanda and graduated from Tunkhannock High School and Penn State.

And if Rick's last name has a familiar ring to it, it's likely because his family hails from Herrick Township. I've known Rick's family for years, and I'm sure many of our readers have, too. His dad, Gene Hiduk, currently lives in New Albany, but it's three of Rick's uncles, two of whom are now deceased, that I knew best. Billy Hiduk and I were fishing buddies and enjoyed some great trips to Canada years ago. Charlie Hiduk and I played softball together back in the 1970's, and Tom Hiduk and I attended WVHS at the same time back in the 1960s, although he was a year or two ahead of me.

So I'm hoping you will join me in welcoming Rick Hiduk to the Rocket-Courier as our new editor. I think he's the perfect guy for the job, and after you get to know him, I'm sure you'll agree. So welcome to the Rocket-Courier, Rick. This is the beginning of a new chapter in this newspaper's long history and we're elated that you have signed on to be an important part of it.

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