This will be my final week as publisher of The Free Press. Coincidentally, but pretty fittingly, it coincides with the paper’s 34th anniversary. On May 15, 1985, the first issue of The Free Press was printed, and I started with the paper as its part-time calendar editor just in time for that first issue. Sometime in the early 1990s, I took over as publisher of the paper when Reade Brower, who began the paper, had already started several other enterprises and no longer had time to be involved in the paper’s week-to-week operations.

Now, like so many of us here in Maine, I have been on the planet for a good 70 years, and, for me at least, it is time to exit the working world and see what it feels like to live without never-ending deadlines. (And also to take a long train ride — thanks to some of Tom Sadowski’s and Eva Murray’s recent columns, I’m having dreams of sleeper cars, dining cars and that sound of wheels on the track....)

But before I head out and hop a train, I just want to say how grateful I am to have worked with such wonderful people here at The Free Press and also how unceasingly impressed I have been with the depth of talent and interest and generosity of the people who live in the midcoast. After 34 years I’m still amazed at the diversity and sheer number of events and activities that happen week in and week out.

I leave The Free Press in great hands — the incredible Steve Davis and Wendell Greer and Glenn Billington, Margie Strauss, Dan Kirchoff, John Jensen, Ann Greenleaf, Deena Carafelli, Chum Berry and Robin Anderson. This paper has long been run by this group of people, many of whom have been here nearly as long as I have, and all of whom are dedicated to what we do here, as are Amy LaRoche, Sandy Delano and Ben Kann, the somewhat more recent additions to the crew.

And in just the past several weeks, we’ve been lucky to add Ethan Andrews, our new managing editor, and Ed Carroll, our new copy editor, and now this week Judith Soleil.

And Jim Kendrick, who worked with Reade Brower several decades ago, has returned to the area and will serve as publisher of The Free Press as well as the other newspapers that Reade owns in the midcoast and Down East. We’ve been working recently with Jim on ways to combine some of the papers’ resources, when it makes sense, while maintaining each paper’s independent character. One change The Free Press is considering is a change in our publication date — possibly Saturday or Monday instead of Thursday, as it is now. That might give us more flexibility in how the paper is configured each week, so it is a change that could materialize in the next few months.

Before signing off, I have to thank all the midcoast businesses who put us to work each week to get their message out to our thousands of readers. And to Free Press readers, thank you for picking us up and taking us home each week.

And finally, I thank Reade Brower for 34 years of his friendship, integrity and unswerving dedication to local newspapers.