We welcome Tom Howard as our Billings TrailNet journalist!

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We are proud to say that former Billings Gazette writer, Tom Howard, is now writing many of the articles you read in our e-newsletter and blog.

You may recognize Tom Howard as the Billings Gazette’s former Billings Business editor, but he retired in August, and we are lucky enough to benefit from his wit and journalistic expertise as our new volunteer wordsmith.

We asked him to share a bit about himself:

“I have been an enthusiastic cyclist since 1973, when I bought my first ten-speed, a shiny green Motobecane Mirage, before heading off to Colorado State University. It cost me about $130.

The 1970s Bike Boom was in full swing, and the bike racks at CSU overflowed. It seems like everybody pedaled to class. During my freshman year, I started learning bike maintenance tips from the owner of a local bike shop who spoke at a gathering of local cycling enthusiasts. After learning how to change a flat and true a wheel, I started tinkering with my bike to shed weight and make it look “faster.” As the city embraced cycling, Fort Collins began developing a system of on-street bike paths that has evolved into an extensive network.

I took up running after moving to Wyoming to pursue a career in journalism. On a lark, I ran my first five-mile race wearing a pair of borrowed sneakers and without a bit of training. I hobbled through it, but instantly became hooked on running. Before long I was participating in about one road race per month.

I moved to Gillette, Wyo., for a job at the News Record in 1980. Gillette was in the midst of an energy boom. Fortunately, a group of progressive city officials embraced the development of cycling and walking paths and a series of parks as the community developed . There’s no doubt trails made Gillette a better place to live.

Since moving to Billings in 1989, I’ve been encouraged by the community’s efforts to develop a network of trails. From my house, I can ride to Norm’s Island/Riverfront Park and return in about an hour, and I love riding on top of the Rims and on the Heights Trail.

I’ve always supported the efforts of Billings TrailNet, but during my career as a writer for The Gazette, I shied away from joining advocacy groups because of potential conflict of interest. Now that I’m semi-retired after 33 years at The Gazette, I’m excited to be involved with Billings TrailNet.”

Please help us extend a hearty, warm welcome to Tom Howard! We are so excited and thankful for your time and dedication to building a better trail system for Billings.