Kelly Boldan: Anne Polta has made her final newsroom deadline
Reporter Anne Polta has met her last deadline in the newsroom at the West Central Tribune in Willmar. She retired on Nov. 22, 2019, exactly 41 years and six months after her first day — May 22, 1978 — working in the Tribune newsroom, then located in downtown Willmar.
After 41-plus years of meeting deadlines in the West Central Tribune's newsroom, Anne Polta missed a deadline last week. She had scheduled her retirement as a newspaper reporter in our newsroom for last Friday — Nov. 15 — and the newsroom had planned an afternoon reception for her.
Anne emailed early Friday morning saying she was not feeling well and would not be in that day. She was especially concerned about not wanting to expose any of her co-workers to her illness.
So Anne spent her retirement deadline day of Nov. 15 at home sick.
In my 18 years working with Anne, I cannot remember her missing an important deadline. So she was pretty sick.
So this week, fortunately, the Tribune newsroom was graced with a few more hours of reporter Anne. Her co-workers, former co-workers, family and friends are honoring Anne at the Tribune Friday for her second retirement day this afternoon.
A Willmar Public Schools and College of St. Benedict graduate, Anne returned to her hometown to start her journalism career. Her first day of employment at the Tribune newsroom was May 22, 1978.
That is exactly 41 years and six months ago today. In other terms, it was 498 months or 15,159 days.
That is a significant dedication to the craft of journalism as well as our newsroom, your newspaper and the Willmar-area community.
She has worked through the tenure of five different editors — John Tradup, Forrest Peterson, Dana Yost, Ruth Newman and Kelly Boldan. That covers the old linotype "hot lead" days at the downtown building to today's fast-paced, "digital-first" Tribune located in the Industrial Park in southwest Willmar. It takes patience to survive editors until the Tribune reporters get us trained in, I’m told.
One of her first duties was to come in early each morning and to roll up the ticker tape to prepare wire stories for the afternoon newspaper and write stories on a typewriter (OK, millennials! Look up the definition on Wikipedia). The newspaper was purchased by Forum Communications Co. in 1979 and soon moved to offset printing and the first central computer news system in a different location.
Today, reporters write content on their laptop or mobile phone wherever they are; produce stories, photos, and videos on a content management system designed out of Norway; store content on the cloud-based Amazon servers and distribute our stories in print in the region and digitally around the world.
Anne has worked "from the old newspaper shop downtown, with the pleasure of sitting next to Emil Aspaas and Sharon Bomstad ... all the way through many new systems and other changes," said fellow Willmar graduate and former co-worker Dale Engstrom. She "worked hard while being particular in detail, passionate about her features."
The daughter of a high school English teacher and an elementary music teacher in Willmar, Anne is a strong reporter and a great writer. She credits her hiring editor John Tradup with hiring her for a reporting job at the Tribune. She then spent her entire career penning stories about people, places and things for the Tribune and its readers.
"We have worked for four of the Tribune's five publishers," said long-time co-worker and features editor Sharon Bomstad. "Our overall mission of reporting news and information for our readers always remained the same — Anne has carried out that mission with pride, dedication and determination."
Anne was one of the first newsroom staffers to introduce herself when I joined the newsroom in October of 2001 as the latest editor. She was often one of my mainstays to ask whenever I had a Willmar question. She was often a mentor for young reporters passing through our newsroom.
The newsroom staffers, Tribune associates and, especially, our readers are going to miss our reporter Anne. Hopefully, after she completes the next couple of months which are already pretty well booked, she will get a writing urge and start stroking those computer keys once again on a future writing project.