This is the last regular column I will write for the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel.

It’s time to retire — again.

This is my second retirement. The first was as editor of these newspapers at the end of 2006.

I know it’s a cliché — and I’ve tried to avoid clichés in my writing — but I have mixed feelings about my decision to end the column. Over the last 10 years, I have written about 425 columns — that’s a lot of words on a lot of topics.

I will not miss the never-ending pressure to find a good topic to write about. That wasn’t a problem when I was editor. I talked about local and statewide issues daily with colleagues who were immersed in what was going on in the community. I met frequently with community leaders. Even casual conversations brought column ideas. The problem was not how to find a topic; it was picking from one of the many that came to mind.

Sometimes I wrote a column in advance, then pushed it aside and wrote a new one when a better idea came along. I had things I wanted to say.

Much of that ended when I retired five years ago. Retired life has been been rewarding, but I am no longer as involved in the nuts-and-bolts issues as I was before. That’s not a bad thing; it’s a natural change.

Writing a column because I had something I wanted to say was exciting and rewarding. Writing a column because I have a deadline and I need to write something is not. More importantly, writing a column just because I must is an insult to readers.

I will miss the connection the column has given me to the community, helping shape debate and encouraging discussion about important issues. I have enjoyed the comments — even the critical ones — from readers.

I have great respect and appreciation for the thoughtful people who disagreed with me and wrote to explain why. They seldom persuaded me to change my mind, and I doubt that I changed theirs, but the discussion has been stimulating and valuable.

I have less regard for those who attacked anonymously. I objected to anonymous online comments when I was editor of the newspapers, and I continue to do so.

I know many media experts argue that anonymous comments bring greater discussion and that people will not take part in online dialogue if they are required to reveal their names. That may be true, but I have seldom found anything profound or worthwhile in comments by people who hide behind an online alias.

More than the critics, anonymous or otherwise, I will miss the readers who have told me they enjoyed what I wrote or who say it has done something useful. Nothing has been more gratifying than meeting people — often strangers — who wanted to talk about something I’ve written.

Much to my surprise, people continue to tell me that they liked the columns I wrote about the year my wife and I spent in Alaska. It was a wonderful experience and I enjoyed sharing it with readers back home. I may try to gather them and some additional material into a book.

People may ask if I am ending the column because of health or some dispute with the newspapers. The answer to both questions is no. I’m healthy, and all of the many editors who have followed me have been supportive. I thank them all.

I also owe special thanks to Naomi Schalit, the former editorial page editor who agreed to print my columns from Alaska; Stephanie Law, the talented copy editor who helped me avoid stupid mistakes; and Dianne Buotte, who handled all the administrative details.

But most off all, I thank the readers who allowed me to be part of their lives.

Ending the column comes with a price. I will no longer have a voice about issues that are important to me. I know I’ll find that especially difficult when the community or the nation confronts bigotry or injustice.

I hope other columnists confront those problems and give voice to people who need champions.

If the issue is right and the urge returns, perhaps I’ll write an occasional guest column.

Or maybe I’ll write a letter to the editor — signed, of course.

David B. Offer is the retired executive editor of the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel. Email [email protected]

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