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Goodbye, Fort Dodge! It’s been quite a journey

“Watch your step in Fort Dodge,” a Fort Dodge native said to me in Storm Lake as I prepared to leave the Pilot-Tribune for my new job at The Messenger in July 2019.

It was one of several similar comments I received, alluding to the town’s infamous nickname around the state. And I’m glad I didn’t listen to them.

As the crime and courts reporter, it’s true that I’ve covered over a dozen homicides in the region in less than two years. But any reporter doing their job well knows that the crime rate of a town isn’t what defines it.

In my time here, I’ve laughed and cried with the community as they granted me the trust and confidence that’s required to bare your soul to a reporter in both good times and bad.

You told me about the times you watched a loved one take their last breath and the times you didn’t know what else to do. You showed me the triumph of the human spirit and the intimate meaning of events beyond the who, what, when, where and why.

And through it all, The Messenger gave me the opportunity to show Fort Dodge the value of community journalism. As news over the last year seemed to change by the minute, I couldn’t be more proud of what I was able to contribute to the community: stories that provided a coherence punctuated by empathy that cuts through the noise.

Today is the last day you will see my byline in The Messenger. On March 31, I will start as a features reporter for The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, where I will specialize in human interest stories, personality features, dining and home and garden pieces.

It’s the people of Fort Dodge that helped me discover why I’m passionate about journalism — something more valuable than any of the prestigious awards I’ve won since I stepped into this job.

As I step away, I couldn’t be more grateful.

Sincerely,

Elijah Decious

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