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Late nights in June -- it must be Mining Edition time

Jun 19, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

I breezed home late Tuesday night -- well, early Wednesday morning -- on my zippy red scooter and had the street to myself for the entire two miles.

Over the decades I have learned a good bit about June nights. That's when I get the mining edition done.

Every year when the snow starts to melt, the mining edition starts to appear in the corners of my eyes. It brushes against my legs, like the wisp of a cat's tail in the dark.

If I am smart, I turn and look it in the eye. Most years, I'm not so smart.

What I do instead is imagine anew how in the world we will ever get this thing done. Somehow it gives little reassurance to see the bound volumes in the basement full of 57 years of proof that not only can it be done, it has been done.

Technology makes it easier now. I used my smartphone to shoot the pictures of old photographs for the Through the Years sections on all the front pages, sections A through F, and I dictated the accompanying text into the phone as well, then e-mailed that upstairs to the production computer to be laid out on the pages.

We can build all the pages on the computer screen now, including importing the pictures and sizing them. There is no more "pasteup" of the pages. A click of the mouse sends the whole thing to the press room, ready to run.

None of that changes the basis of it all, however. Seven sections of empty columns, all to be done outside the daily newspaper schedule, and with that third Wednesday in June flashing on the calendar.

And yet -- here it is again, our 58th incarnation of The Ranger Mining and Energy Edition. We pulled it off somehow.

I'll never work on another one of these for as long as I live without marveling -- absolutely marveling -- at the example of reportorial superhumanity displayed by my father during the 51 years he worked the mining edition, from age 31 to 81.

That last year, his right hand numbed by some unidentified affliction of age, he cut back a little -- just 65 stories written and 3,100 miles driven. Wimp.

This year we miss Carolyn B. Tyler as well, who got last year's news and advertising index done just a few days before falling ill with the first of a chain of health crises that took her life three weeks after the edition was published.

The indexing this year was accomplished by our 21-year-old summer intern, Andrea Novotny, following in some hallowed Ranger footsteps.

Our primary field man again this year was Don Warfield, who traveled north, south, east and west to find the stories of Wyoming's energy industry. He did it expertly, as I knew he would. We also got bylines from Katie Roenigk, Eric Blom and my son, Robert H. Peck, who traveled joyfully with my dad on many a mining a trip when he was a little boy. There's nothing like having a little kid along to gain entry to places the grown man by himself would never get to see.

Son Robert sent his story on the Carissa Mine from across the Atlantic Ocean. He visited South Pass before he left for a summer study session in London between his sophomore and junior years in college. I don't know if he'll be generation three at The Ranger helm, but he grew up with an appreciation of the mining edition as time well spent with his grandfather. That, I hope, will never leave him.

For me again this year, the impression left is that of quiet, late hours alone in the newsroom, fitting a mountain of stories and pictures to pages. Eventually, methodically, the empty columns were filled, and I stepped outside to the stillness of dark June, another mining edition season complete, another summer ahead.

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