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Editor's View: Saluting longtime newspaper man Joe Carroll

By: Don Chaddock, Managing Editor
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I’ve had the privilege of working with some great mentors in the newspaper industry and one of the most influential for me has been Joe Carroll.

His name may not be as familiar to those in Folsom or El Dorado Hills as it is to political junkies or residents of Placer County.

Joe is an old-school reporter and you better not call him a journalist.

“Never call yourself a journalist,” Joe told me more than once. “A journalist is just an out-of-work reporter.”

Last week, at the Placer County Board of Supervisors meeting in Auburn, he was honored for his 40 years of dedication to bettering the lives of those in the state (during his time working at the state Legislature) and through his reporting.

Joe suffered a series of strokes more than five years ago, leaving him unable to continue working in his chosen field. I worked with him at the end of his career, the two of us tackling elections and news stories in Placer County for the Sentinel.

At last week’s ceremony, Joe (now in a wheel chair) gave the supervisors a piece of his still very-sharp mind.

To Supervisor Robert Weygandt he asked, “Do you still have that plane at the airport?”

“No,” Weygandt responded.

“Well, so much for your quick getaway,” Joe chuckled.

Joe started his career at the San Francisco Examiner before landing in Placer County, where he worked for the Auburn Journal beginning in 1961. In 1964, when the Hell Hole Damn broke on the American River, Joe was there to cover the story.

Hank Gonzales, a former mayor of Auburn, recounted how he, Joe and a reporter from KCRA were at the bridge connecting Auburn and El Dorado County.

Joe and the TV reporter decided to venture out onto the bridge to get a closer look.

“Logs were coming down the river, hitting the bridge,” Gonzales said. “I saw a crack forming and shouted to the other two they better get off of it. They did and about three minutes later, the bridge collapsed. Do you remember that, Joe?”

Joe’s response? “You bet you’re a** I do.”

Remnants of the bridge can still be seen underwater downstream from the current Highway 49 bridge.

Joe was with the Journal for 14 years, leaving to work in government with state legislators Sen. Ray Johnson and Assemblyman Norm Waters. He returned to the ink-slinging business in 1991.

It was nice to see some familiar faces at the ceremony, including Aaron Klein (Sierra College board), former Placer County Supervisor Harriet White and other county officials.

Firefighters from Auburn lined the walls of the supervisors chambers to listen to Joe light-heartedly skewer the politicians and accept the proclamation. Sen. Ted Gaines also sent a proclamation, recognizing Joe and his efforts.

After the official ceremony, there was a gathering at Bootlegger’s Tavern and Grill in Old Town Auburn, owned by Ty Rowe.

Joe often referred to himself as an “ink-stained wretch,” a term I’ve adopted as well.

When I took over the editor post of the Telegraph in 2008, then state Sen. Dave Cox (now deceased) stopped by to have breakfast at Sutter Street Grill and chat. One of the topics, since I knew the senator from my time as the editor of the Sentinel, was Joe and his health.

On a side note, Joe performed the ceremony for my second wedding. We had him deputized at Placer County.

Congratulations to Joe Carroll. May my career be half as colorful and just as long.

Don Chaddock can be reached at donc@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @anewsguy.