After 1,059 issues, seven years and five months, today I leave the Register-Pajaronian.
What a roller coaster ride it has been, right up to the very end.
Those of you who know me know I love roller coasters. But like any good thrill ride, you can only enjoy it for so long before you search for the next ride in a different section of the park.
When I walked through the R-P’s doors for my first day as an intern on Oct. 26, 2011, Watsonville might as well have been a foreign country to me. Sure, I went to school here, but I didn’t know who the mayor was, or even where the fairgrounds was located. I was already a frequent visitor to the Watsonville Public Library, but had no idea that the city council met every other week just a couple of floors above. Watsonville has an art gallery? Since when?
But once I started covering events, meeting new people and exploring places that I never had seen before, I started gaining an appreciation for the Pajaro Valley and all Watsonville has to offer.
The Watsonville Strawberry Festival is one of the top events in the county, as is the annual county fair. Watsonville has dozens of passionate artists who are more than happy to share their work with the world, making this city a more beautiful place to live in and visit. And many exciting new businesses are on their way to the city, such as Slice Project downtown, Staff of Life in the East Lake Village Shopping Center, and the new development at the Watsonville Municipal Airport that includes Beer Mule and other establishments.
My first weekend assignment in early 2012 was to cover the annual World Wetlands Day event, put on by Watsonville Wetlands Watch and the City of Watsonville. Coincidentally, when I covered the same event just a little over a month ago, it was also one of my last weekend assignments for the R-P.
I was proud of the fact that I broke the news that the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk would be replacing its longtime Hurricane roller coaster in 2012, and I still can’t believe I witnessed a high-speed car chase in 2013, where the suspect nearly sideswiped my car as he attempted to avoid a spike strip, and as I was taking photos.
In 2016, I along with other R-P staff members attended the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s annual awards ceremony in San Francisco, where the R-P received second place in the General Excellence category. Being there on the top floor of the Westin St. Francis Hotel overlooking the city, and surrounded by fellow journalists from across the state, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I was honored to be the editor of the R-P during its 150-year anniversary in 2018. There were times when I strived to be the next Frank Orr, the legendary longtime editor of the R-P. But that was such a tall task that I knew I could never live up to those expectations, and I realized that no one could, making me ever more appreciative of Orr’s dedication.
I cannot say enough about the incredible, hardworking staff of the R-P, who continue to push out a top-notch hyper-local newspaper in the face of adversity from all sides, and I cherish the friendships I have made.
To all the readers and community members, thank you for your support of not only me these past seven-plus years, but for your devoted attention to the Register-Pajaronian. Please continue to support this newspaper, as it cannot be the lively, informative, essential publication that it is without you.
Erik Chalhoub began his career at the Register-Pajaronian as an intern in 2011, eventually being hired as a reporter in January 2012 and promoted to managing editor in December 2014.