Region pulls together in times of tragedy

By Josh Salm

    SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – At a job interview a while back, an employer was breezing over my resume until he hit a certain point. He picked his head up from the paper, looked at me and pointed at the resume, “Hey, what’s this? Pis …. Piscata… How do you say that?”

    “Piscataquis. The Piscataquis Observer,” I replied.
    “Oh, that sounds funny.”
    We here in Wisconsin have cities like Mukwonago, Oconomowoc and Sheboygan, yet he thought Piscataquis was weird. All I could do was shake my head and laugh.
    Then he asked me, “Tell me about your time there. What did it mean to you?”
    It’s a question I think of to this day, especially after reading about what happened to Dacano Arno on June 3.
    My time at the Piscataquis Observer meant more to me than simply covering town meetings, writing stories about school consolidation efforts and county business, or even getting the chance to cover a high school sporting event or two. It was about meeting the people of Piscataquis County and getting a chance to be a part of those tight-knit communities that stretch from Greenville to Guilford, Brownville and Milo, Dexter and Dover-Foxcroft.
    I remember when James Gudroe passed away a few weeks after I started with the Observer. I was amazed the day I went to Dexter for the day of his funeral to cover it for the paper, just how Dexter came together to remember their former fire chief with the procession through town and the packed gymnasium for the funeral. It was more than Dexter too. Fire departments from around the region showed up to remember him, and others came in for mutual assistance to back up those who went to Dexter.
    The scene at the high school was one that still sticks with me to this day, when all those fire firefighters stood around the circle in the parking lot and saluted the hearse as it drove off. I still get chills thinking about it.
    That week I learned a lot about the Piscataquis region – how people pulled together and helped each other out. It reminded me of home, of the rural parts of Wisconsin where I’m from, and it drove me to work harder for the people in the area because I wanted their stories heard.
    I remember the week following my grandfather’s death. I published the column in the paper entitled “You take care now” about his passing and what was going through my head at that time. To this day, I’m still touched how these same communities reached out to me and gave their support in my time of need. It’s something I’ll never forget. For being a guy that was “from away,” it was one of those times I felt like I’ve been a part of the community for years.
    So it’s now when I read about the unfortunate passing of Dacano that I remember the Dover-Foxcroft region and how it always seems to find a way to pull together when one of their own is in need of a hand. It’s what I miss and fondly remember about that area.
    My deepest sympathies go out to the friends and family of Dacano. I know you’re in good hands with the support that is up there.
    At least, that’s what I remember from my time at the Piscataquis Observer.
    Editor’s note: Josh Salm, who reported for the Observer in 2008-09, is back cheering on his Badgers, Packers and Brewers from his home state of Wisconsin, and currently works for a construction firm in the project management department.

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