By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star
---- — Changes at the Cooperstown Crier will bring a well-earned retirement for its managing editor of news and move its reporter into the top spot.
Jim Austin came to the weekly newspaper in February 1996, about a year after it was founded by The Daily Star. Friday will be his last day at the helm.
“I am at the point in my life where I have some other interests I’d like to pursue,” The 63-year-old Pittsfield resident said Tuesday about his decision to retire now. “At my age, it’s more important to have the opportunity to do some of those things I have put on the back burner.”
He plans on focusing a great deal of attention on pursuing his interest in growing nutrient-dense organic vegetables. While it is a small commercial enterprise, his main interest is in the nutritional value it can supply to his family.
Daily Star Editor Sam Pollak said: “It’s been a privilege to have Austin as a colleague. His dedication to providing Cooperstown-area readers with the news they need has been unparalleled, and his encyclopedic knowledge of local events, personalities and history will be sorely missed.”
Publisher Mitchell Lynch said: “We will miss him and his institutional knowledge of Cooperstown and The Crier. We wish him the best with his future endeavors.”
Austin said he will miss a number of the people he has gotten to know over the years, and to some extent, the community at large.
“Cooperstown is a fairly unique community. It’s been an enjoyable place to work,” he said.
He grew up in Michigan and left the University of Michigan, where he majored in psychology, to follow other interests. In the 1970s he worked for a weekly newspaper, before moving with his family to New York in the latter part of the decade as a self-employed craftsperson. In the mid-1980s he purchased and ran the New Berlin Gazette, and sold it 10 years later. Two months after that he saw an ad in The Cooperstown Crier and, “I’ve been here ever since.”
Starting Monday, reporter Michelle Miller will take over as editor. The 2003 Morris Central School graduate grew up in the area and is excited to be able to develop her career locally.
“I know the people and grew up in the general area, so I have more of a connection to what is happening. I’ve enjoyed reporting and made a lot of connections,” the 28-year-old Milford resident said.
Miller, who graduated with a dual degree in journalism and public relations, said her favorite stories include highlighting the accomplishments of local people, especially students. Being a baseball fan, she said she also likes covering events at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
“Cooperstown provides a unique opportunity to get to meet a lot of the legends of the diamond. Events like Induction Weekend also bring other celebrity figures to the small village,” she said.
Miller said she has enjoyed working at The Crier, where she started in 2007, because she is able to be involved with not only reporting, but can take on other responsibilities, including layout and taking pictures.
“A smaller weekly newspaper provides more opportunity to use a variety of skills other than just writing,” she said.
Working so closely with Austin, she said she is not nervous about her new responsibilities.
“We’ve worked more as a team, so I have been able to get a pretty good grasp on things,” Miller said.
She said she hopes Austin enjoys his retirement.
Lynch said because of Miller’s “dedication, work ethic and experience, we could not think of anyone better to assume the role.”
Pollak said, “Her genuine affection for the people she brings the news to each week will serve her well as she takes on the role of editor of The Crier.”
Greg Klein, who lives in Fly Creek, started as a reporter Monday. The 42-year-old was a clerk in the sports department of The Daily Star and a contributing writer at that newspaper and The Crier before starting in his new post.
He was born in Syracuse, but grew up in the state of Maryland. He came back to the area in 2011, wanting to settle down and raise his 7-year-old son.
“It’s a great opportunity to do what I have been doing for the past 18 months,” he said.
According to Klein, it’s like returning to his roots.
He graduated from Auburn University, where he majored in journalism. But his career took him in other directions after, including acting and writing.
The latter includes a book, “The King of New Orleans,” and two plays that have been produced.
“I love to write,” Klein said.
He was looking forward to the opportunity to write, and The Crier will continue to provide that.
Pollak said that Klein brings a “wide-ranging knowledge” of local news and sports to his position.
“He will be part of an outstanding team working to keep The Cooperstown Crier readers informed,” he said.
Lynch said Klein will be a welcome team member to The Cooperstown Crier. He said he was expecting “great things,” from both Klein and Miller in their new roles.