VALERIE WELLS: Farewell, old building; hello, new building | Editorial



Editor’s note: The Herald & Review moves from 601 E. William St. to 225 S. Main St. in Decatur. This is part of a series of columns written by staff members sharing their memories of the building that has housed the news agency since 1976.

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We say goodbye to the building where I have worked all my professional career.

Entering the Herald & Review’s William Street office now, after nearly two years of working from home during the pandemic, enters an almost deserted space, with construction work underway to make it the new home of Vieweg Real Estate , and almost every cabin is empty .

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We are moving to a new office, and it will be the first time in my career as a journalist that the Herald & Review will not be at 601 E. William St.

When I started working as an obituary in the summer of 1990, the place was never empty. Even in the middle of the night, there were people directing the press, parcel carriers lined up on the dock to load, and sometimes still people in the newsroom madly typing the last lines of an article or putting the final touch to editing and collage. at the top. My dad had a bundle route when I was growing up, and I had a car route – delivering individual journals and bundles – after I graduated from high school, so my family had a long association with the journal, at when there were two newspapers, the Herald in the morning and the Review in the afternoon.

We had 14 reporters when I started working as an obituary. The newsroom was never quiet and the obituaries had to be mobile because we didn’t have our own office. We had settled into an empty office and if the journalist to whom it belonged showed up, we had to move. The television was blaring, the phones were ringing, reporters and editors were calling each other across the room, and more often than not Richard Icen was on the phone bellowing at someone because “bellowing” was the only volume Dick had.

Two years later, I became a newsroom clerk under Bob Fallstrom, typing milestone weddings and anniversaries and community news. Bob was the good news guy, writing the stories about the people whose stories he wanted to tell, and bragging about saying “yes”. He was also happy to tell stories about his own career, including how crisp he had been as a sportswriter, unlike the affable Bob I was lucky enough to know. I would have thought he was embellishing the facts if there hadn’t been a lot of people around who remembered Crusty Bob and backed up his stories.


The late Bob Fallstrom is pictured in the conference room that bears his name at the Decatur Herald & Review. Fallstrom, a longtime editor of community news, was a music enthusiast.

Bob was my mentor, who showed me how to interview, how to write a newspaper article, and how to see a story where others couldn’t. He gave me my first real assignment, covering a Joan Jett concert at the Macon County Fairground. I wasn’t a journalist yet and no one else would let a green kid write a story, but he did. Over time, he let me do stories pretty regularly, so by the time I graduated from college and a journalistic niche opened up, I had proven myself and had a file to circulate to show that I could do the job.

The seasoned journalists around me then, who were ready to answer questions, offer sources and give advice, were invaluable. Listening to Ron Ingram’s endless stories in the dining room was both entertaining and educational. Ron had covered every beat of the paper at some point and knew more about people and places than most of us will ever know.

Sadly, Dick, Bob, and Ron all passed away, taking decades of Macon County history, first-hand and in-person witnesses, with them.

And now we move into a new space, with far fewer of us to pursue the century of journalism and early drafts of history that the Herald & Review was commissioned to produce. We can take the memories with us.


CHRIS COATES: Remembering the “Miracle of William Street”

OUR OPINION: Take the spirit of the new Herald & Review site

ALLISON PETTY: A fond farewell to 601 E. William St.

DONNETTE BECKETT: The escalation has not stopped

Contact Valerie Wells at (217) 421-7982. Follow her on Twitter: @modgirlreporter

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