Reflections on the end of an era, the NFL and Patriot Day

Today marks the end of an era for the Pahrump Valley Times.

Marie Wujek, who has led this newspaper through the mire, the muck and numerous transitions as publisher for more than a decade, is retiring to Arizona. Today’s front page story speaks of the impact she’s had on shaping the paper through ownership changes, management changes at the corporate office in Las Vegas, and the changing newspaper industry overall.

Through it all, she has made sure the newspaper remained economically profitable while providing the tools to present strong news coverage for Pahrump and Nye County.

Back in July I wrote about the changes the newspaper had undergone in the time since I had been hired as editor since the end of September last year. In that column I made the sincere, heartfelt statement that “The glue of the newspaper is Wujek. When I interviewed with her for the editor position nearly 10 months ago, I knew in about 60 seconds that I wanted to work for this woman.”

I meant every word of that statement, a sentiment I made publicly again at her farewell party Aug. 28 at the Pahrump Nugget.

I will miss working with Marie. It will be hard for everyone who works here to come in Monday, look at her empty desk and feel anything but a sense of loss.

As a boss, I enjoyed working for you Marie. You taught me more than you will know, and probably more than I even realize right now. As a friend, I love you and will miss seeing you every day.

NFL Returns

The great American pastime returns this weekend. Forget baseball. The National Football League returns this weekend with packed stadiums around the country and betting dollars flowing. Let us not kid ourselves the way the NFL brass does: the game today wouldn’t be what it is without betting. Whether it is the legal bets in Nevada sportsbooks, or the illegal betting everywhere else, including Nevada, football viewing is driven by betting.

A recent study by the American Gaming Association said Wednesday $95 billion (yes, billion with a “B”) will be bet, mostly illegally, on the NFL this season. Only $2 billion of that is done legally in Nevada. According to the report, $3.8 billion in illegal bets were made on the Super Bowl alone.

To continue the federal ban on this activity is just plain stupid. Legalize it, tax it, benefit from it.

They don’t seem to have a problem with fantasy sports, taking those advertising dollars. That is obviously a form of gambling, but that is a column for another time.

Patriot Day

Today marks the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Like you, I remember where I was when I first heard the news.

I was in bed asleep when my wife at the time woke me to the news, “Two planes have crashed into the World Trade Center in New York.”

Commentators and historians have tried to couch the event as our modern-era Pearl Harbor. I think that’s fair. My two oldest children were in elementary school that day, and it had an impact on them growing up, even if it was subtle. My youngest is 13, and grew up in the post-9/11 world where terrorism on American soil is a potential reality.

I’m fortunate. I don’t know anyone that was in New York that day, or anyone who lost a loved one in the attacks. But as a nation it left a deep scar. I don’t like flying now, always checking the people who get on the airplane. I feel terrible doing that, but I can’t help myself.

Take a moment to remember those who lost their lives for doing nothing more than working in the twin towers, or for getting on a plane to travel across the country. And remember those brave men and women who died running towards danger when many people’s first instinct is to flee in the opposite direction.

Arnold M. Knightly is the editor of the Pahrump Valley Times

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