The Westside Express has just become younger. The newspaper is losing a venerable senior citizen from its team but gaining a bright young woman with talent and enthusiasm.

Last Friday was the last day the veteran journalist Kim Yancey served on the Westside Express (WE) team, primarily working in tandem with me to edit WE articles. Kim has been a part of the Express from the beginning, when Gene Lieb was gathering a small team well before the first WE issue in May.

As some of you may remember, once upon a time Kim was the editor for many years of the old Los Banos Enterprise, until he was let go by the corporate owners of that paper in a cost-cutting move. Kim worked a few more years in the newspaper business and then retired several years ago to lead a quiet life as a gentleman farmer in Stevinson.

When Gene followed his dream of publishing a truly local newspaper and worked with the owners of the Dos Palos Sun to expand that paper into the Westside Express, Kim was one of the first persons Gene contacted.

Like Gene, Kim has long believed in the importance of a truly local newspaper that reports on the city council and the school board and provides stories about high school and youth sports. When Gene asked him to come on board the Express to help edit the newspaper, Kim agreed, with the proviso that he would work with Gene as part of the START-UP team for a short time and then return to his retirement.

The short time, which Kim thought would be a few weeks, turned out to be five months, and finally Kim said it was time, in fact long overdue, for him to leave the newspaper. Kim has been crucial to the success of the Westside Express, and the newspaper will be forever grateful to him.

Fortunately, coming on board now, when Kim is leaving, is a remarkable young woman, a senior at CSU Stanislaus majoring in English with an interest in journalism, who already has lived a remarkable life, Courtney Andrade. 

Courtney is a mother of two energetic boys, Adrian (age 8) and Emilio (age 10). For the past 11 years, Courtney has been working in retail management and has a talent for getting things done (essential in the newspaper business).

If you ask Courtney, she’ll tell you she believes in working hard and in loving people. In her rare occurrences of free time, Courtney says she enjoys solving puzzles, reading books, watching movies and going on adventures with her boys.

Courtney has told me that it has been a dream of hers to work in print. She says she is “thrilled” at the opportunity to take on her new adventure at the Westside Express. 

While her major is English, Courtney has also taken journalism courses, including a copy-editing class, which will come in very handy, since she’ll work primarily as an editor (but will also write stories from time to time).

I am pleased and deeply grateful that Courtney, who is considerably younger than I am, is joining our team. She will add not only youth but new perspectives and ideas.

Considering Kim and I are both in our 70’s, having Courtney on board the Westside Express will be an infusion of new life, like a marine breeze after a warm Westside day.

Courtney will soon know firsthand what a unique adventure the Westside Express is, with more than 25 persons from the Westside communities contributing to what I’ve called a “community co-op newspaper.” Before long she will be interacting with these contributors. 

Moreover, Courtney is at a university–California State University, Stanislaus–which respects and appreciates what the Westside Express is doing. Its Creative Media Program, which encompasses journalism, includes two professors who believe strongly in the Westside Express . In fact, they see this newspaper as a potential model for other local newspapers in the country.

Two professors have shown a particular interest in the Westside Express, Shannon Stevens and Pam Young. They have already provided a great deal of guidance and support to the WE team. In fact, Pam and Shannon were the persons who recommended Courtney to us.

Although Kim has left the Express (and Courtney has recently joined it), I need to remind WE readers that an extensive team of talented people is continuing with the  newspaper. This includes Cal Tatum, a veteran volunteer editor, who does a yeoman’s job of editing and uploading almost all of the newspaper’s sports stories.

Also continuing is Michael Martin, WE’s volunteer sportswriter who covers the high schools in Los Banos, as well as longtime Dos Palos Sun and Westside Express contributors David Borboa and Janet Miller.

Speaking of Dos Palos, I’m also pleased to report we have a new correspondent in Dos Palos, Claudia Bretado Bautista, reporting on the Dos Palos City Council and the Dos Palos Oro Loma School Board. Claudia is a key addition to our Dos Palos team of writers.

I need to also acknowledge another absolutely essential component of the Westside Express’s ability to survive and thrive, 209 Multimedia,  a locally-owned media group that publishes newspapers in Manteca, Ripon, Escalon, Oakdale, Riverbank, Ceres, Turlock, Gustine and Newman. That group, headed by Hank Vander Veen, supports the Westside Express with an extensive and talented staff (and a printing press).

Of course, ultimate credit goes to Gene Lieb, not only for being the publisher of the Westside Express, but for taking 90% of the photographs in the paper, selling all the ads and working more than 60 hours each week on the paper.

So, dear advertisers, subscribers and occasional readers, thank you again for your support of this newspaper. Get ready to watch us continue to grow and develop in our mission to be the community newspaper you all deserve.

On another note: Los Banos lost a wonderful businessman and all-around good guy in the recent passing of Tony Thomas. Tony ran what I would call a “family” liquor store, where for 37 years everyone in the community felt comfortable coming in and buying the beverages of their choice.

Tony had a great sense of humor and made everyone feel at home. He was also a caring family man with six children, 16 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. He leaves an extensive and expansive legacy.