It was fall of 2006 when a 23-year-old reporter candidate walked into our world-wide headquarters looking more nervous than the proverbial long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Rick Holtz managed to impress enough of us to get a job offer and soon came to work at his first real newspaper.

Fast forward almost eight years and the now 31-year-old is getting set to walk out. The young man has learned and grown more than anyone could have expected. He's gone from a single kid afraid of making a mistake to a married man and a father of one (about to be the father of two) who's only nervous now about making a mistake.

He has held almost every job our company has - performing most very well . . . OK, there was that brief period in sales but hey, virtually everyone told him he wasn't cut out for that.

Thing is, we're the little newspaper that could. We started out as an idea on a sheet of paper and have grown into a small media company with two daily papers, a weekly, some websites and partnerships. We've done it by being smart, nimble, flexible, responsive . . . and more than anything with some great people.

Rick has been here almost every step of the way.

Much as I hate to admit it, Rick's is doing the right thing by leaving. Newsrooms are tough places to be for anyone, let alone young married people and parents. Despite the best of intentions, evenings turn into nights and nights turn into late nights. Next thing you know, supper is cold and bedtime stories have already been read.

Rick's missed a lot of meals. He's missed the bedtime stories even more.

So Rick is doing what few people have the guts or the wherewithal to pull off. He's leaving a job he truly likes and is going to work on a factory floor. He's not doing it for the rest of his life, but long enough to get some quality time in with the family, welcome a new child to the world and then start taking some classes.

See, when he came here back in '06, he said he had a few hours left at Purdue-Calumet to finish his bachelor's degree. He was told by one or two folks here that he needed to go ahead and get that done. But those pesky newsroom hours got in the way. So did marriage. And fatherhood. It's life.

Now it's a life Rick is taking back. It's a future he's building. We're glad to have been a part of what will be his past. He leaves knowing the friends and relationships he's made here will always be part of his future.

Godspeed, Mr. Holtz.