Looks like my first-ever appearance on the op-ed page will be my last.

Looks like my first-ever appearance on the op-ed page will be my last.

Yes, for those who don't already know, Friday was, after more than five years, my last day as a staff writer for the Leavenworth Times. Don't worry ― it's amicable, but I've been afforded an awesome opportunity too good to pass up.

If you haven't heard about all this, it's not because I simply neglected to tell you ― believe me, I've been thinking about it a lot. And it's not because you weren't important enough to me to know. I'm just shy, bad at saying goodbye and prefer to remain in the background in any regard.

But my impending departure has given nearly every menial task this week an extra weight, which hit me Friday when, of all things, I was throwing away a plastic spoon. Yeah, I know, but it was the last plastic spoon, the last cup of coffee that I'll likely ever consume as an employee of the Leavenworth Times.

Speaking of cups of coffee, science could never fathom how much I've consumed here. But let's run down some other numbers: I conservatively estimate that I've written in excess of 2,000 stories as an employee here. More than a hundred notebooks have been filled with my scribble, usually legible enough for me to read. I've worn through the soles of no less than four pairs of shoes.

But those are the quantifiable things. Others are harder to pinpoint, but no less noteworthy ― like the people who stop me at events just to say hi or give me a news tip or those who have invited me into their homes for an interview and a cup of coffee. You all have been so kind for allowing me to tell your stories and, when necessary, gracious in pointing out my mistakes and shortcomings. Either instance has helped make me better and realize how massive and fascinating this world can be.

I would be remiss to not also mention the staff here at the state's oldest daily newspaper. They've weathered more storms than a thousand Kansas tornado seasons, seems like, and have not missed a beat in the process. They do this in an industry that as a whole faces an uncertain future because, I believe, they care deeply about the community they serve.

It's a community that, truth be told, I knew next to nothing about when I started in January 2008. But, as many of you already know, Leavenworth's got a lot to be proud of, from the history ― the Leavenworth Constitution, for instance, is cited as the most progressive of the proposed Kansas state constitutions, banning slavery outright and paving the way for equal rights to both African-Americans and women ― to the culture to the architecture to the people.

Getting to know a little of all of that has really been one of the best experiences of my life, and one that as I leave, I'm glad I get to take with me. Well, that, a six-pack of Annie's Amber Ale and half my wardrobe courtesy local thrift stores.

So I thank each and every one of you out there, for reading this, for helping me out over these last few years and for instilling in me some pioneer pride.