A Tribute to the Morning Report and Thanks to Editor Bill Halainen
from the last edition of the NPS Morning Report on August 31, 2015
Tomorrow will mark the end of an era, as the first day in nearly three decades that the NPS Morning Report will not be published. Always reliable, the report will be remembered as one of the longest running and successful communications platforms in NPS history. Since 1986, it has featured over 20,000 NPS incidents, along with thousands of other stories profiling the incredible work of NPS employees and partners around the country.
Like everything, our systems and processes are only as good as the people managing them. In the case of the report, one person deserves the credit for its sustained success: Bill Halainen. Bill developed a vision for the report in the mid-1980s, while working in WASO, and executed it in remarkable fashion over the next 30 years. Not only did he serve as the primary editor between 1986 and 2015, for the majority of that time span, he was the only editor. Only in recent years, was a backup editor available to Bill. We all owe Bill an enormous debt of gratitude for the thousands of hours he spent editing this report. He never missed a beat, even on his vacations and weekends, for nearly 30 years.
Bill started his career as a seasonal interpretive ranger in 1974 at Little Big Horn Battlefield NM. He then worked seasonally as an interpreter ranger at Mesa Verde NP (1975-1977), moved to Colonial NHP as a permanent in protection (1977-1980), then to Minute Man NHP as a protection ranger (1980-1985).
He moved to WASO in 1985 as the NPS uniform program manager, and began editing the report in 1986. After nearly 10 years in WASO, he became a management assistant to the superintendent at Delaware Water Gap NRA, where he continued editing the report as a collateral duty until he retired in 2007. Luckily for the NPS, after his "official" retirement, he continued editing the report as an NPS contractor, working for WASO communications for the past 8 years.
Bill's great work and contributions have been recognized by many over the years. He is the recipient of countless awards including: Distinguished Service Award given by the Association of National Park Rangers; three Director's Performance Awards for development of service wide reporting systems and helping develop the service's first website in 1995; the Outstanding Service Award from the International Ranger Federation for his role in writing and publishing The Thin Green Line; the Department of the Interior’s Unsung Hero Award, given for his sustained efforts in service communications in 1999; the Meritorious Service Award given in 2006 for his wide ranging career achievements; the President's Award from the Association of National Park Rangers in 2009; and most recently, the George B. Hartzog Award given by the Coalition of NPS Retirees in 2015.
For those of you that know Bill, you know his skill and dedication are unparalleled. Despite moving through various positions in the NPS, he took a personal ownership of the report out of pure and selfless dedication to the NPS mission, and its employees. Throughout his career, Bill has been known for being selfless, humble, high performing, highly reliable, dedicated to the mission, and committed to excellence. His efforts had very real, and positive impacts on tens of thousands of readers over the years. While the report may be gone for now, the impacts of Bill’s contributions will always be remembered and greatly appreciated.
[Submitted by C. Sholly, Regional Director, Midwest Regional Office, 08-31-2015]