Editorial board's makeup changes as Briggs retires

We've had a changing of the guard on the Tri-City Herald Editorial Board. Jack Briggs retired ... again.

Briggs started with us as a reporter in 1960 and worked a variety of positions in the newsroom. He became publisher in 1991 and retired in 1997.

Even after his retirement, though, he continued to serve as a member of the editorial board -- he just started doing it for free.

Alas, those days are gone.

We will miss Jack.

We'll miss his wit and wisdom.

We'll miss his institutional knowledge of the community (although we will still call him on the phone and chat). We will miss his insightful questions. He has never been shy about asking the edgy questions regardless of who was on the receiving end.

As the Herald's columnist, Briggs earned a reputation as an investigative reporter who could help right wrongs that affected common people.

Following a tip from an irate local pharmacy customer that druggists were fixing prices, Briggs wrote stories that led to a nationwide investigation by the Federal Drug Administration.

He also did stories that forced the federal government to open up the Hanford stretch of the Columbia River to boaters.

Jack is a connector in this community.

He seems to know just about everyone -- and from what we can tell, he likes them all too. He was named Tri-Citian of the Year for his service with various community groups.

Jack and his wife, Wanda, a retired Herald reporter, travel extensively. They have six children and 12 grandchildren, and two in the next generation, whom Jack dotingly refers to as "the most intelligent great-grandchildren in the world."

In Jack's stead (but not as a replacement) will be Executive Editor Laurie Williams.

Williams has been at the Herald since 1984.

As a reporter in the Tri-Cities for 11 years, she covered business, courts, crime and city and county government.

She worked her way through the ranks of assistant city editor and city editor before her promotion in 2000 to assistant managing editor.

She was named executive editor last year and oversees daily newsroom operations.

She's a longtime member of the Society of Professional Journalists and served six years on the organization's national board of directors, representing the Pacific Northwest.

She grew up in Montana and Colorado and has a journalism-political science degree from the University of Montana.

She lives in Kennewick with her husband, Mark Arreola, an elementary school teacher, and their son Ryan.

Welcome, Laurie. Best wishes, Jack.