25 YEARS AT THE I-O — Buck Taxler receives a clock inscribed plaque and gift certificate for his 25 years of commitment to The Independent-Observer of Conrad. I-O Photo by Deanna Wakkinen
By Deanna Wakkinen, I-O Reporter
Buck Traxler has gone from doing the news on manual typewriters to IBM Selectrics to computers and digital cameras.
Traxler commented, “It has been an amazing run for the last 25 years and to paraphrase a movie title, I’ve had a front row seat to the ‘Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’. Every day is a new adventure.”
Traxler came to Conrad 25 years ago after being the editor of the Phillipps County News (PCN) in Malta for one year.
The PCN was sold and Traxler was let go the next day. After that he almost moved to Glasgow where the Malta paper was printed.
While in Glasgow, waiting for the last paper to come off the press, Traxler read in the Montana Newspaper Press Association newsletter that The Independent-Observer in Conrad was in need of an editor.
Traxler contacted Jack Lee, publisher, and when asked when he could start, Traxler said, “right away.” Lee had remembered Traxler from earlier work with a U.S. Senate candidate in Conrad.
Traxler remembers when the Conrad Cowboys were going to Malta to play the number one ranked Mustangs that Saturday. Instead of roaming the Malta sidelines, he ran up and down on the Cowboy side, confusing many Malta fans.
He recounted the evening, “The Cowboy defense shined for that game as they shut down the number one ranked Mustangs 6-0. Jim Suek booted two field goals for the only scores of the game.”
His first front page story also comes back clearly to him. It was the announcement of Richard “Buck” O’Brien planning to make a run for Congress against long-time incumbent Representative Ron Marlenee.
One of the most memorable stories was his unearthing of the increase in garbage service to businesses through the Northern Montana Joint Refuse Disposal District (NMJRDD).
His series of stories, the first in September 2005, revealed rate increases that businesses had not been notified of. Pondera Medical Center’s bill went from $2,375 to $8,930. In the second article, NMJRDD moved to implement the new rates. The third article, in October, concluded with the commissioners voting to overturn the new trash rates.
He also recounts an April Fool’s story that he ran about a little unknown law allowing brothels in Montana and the plan to open one outside of Conrad. Some, who didn’t read the entire story, began calling either to apply for positions or to voice their complaints.
Traxler is a third-generation Montana boy, born in Missoula. He did a little “globe-trotting” while growing up with his father in the U.S. Navy. His father retired after 30 years.
Traxler graduated from Ewe Beach, Hawaii and after a year of college in Maui, joined the Navy.
He did two tours of in-country duty at Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam, as a Navy photographer and writer for the base Family Gram.
To the best of his knowledge, his father and he were the only father-son service personnel to be stationed together in Vietnam.
After finishing up in the service, he continued his education at San Diego City College and received a degree in telecommunications (news writing) and photography.
He returned to Montana by accepting a job with Al Hamm/Varsity Photography in Missoula. There he took school pictures all over the Big Sky and Wyoming. He covered many activities and even covered two graduations at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. The rest is history.
When asked if he ever intended to stay in Conrad, Traxler replied, “I haven’t had a parking ticket yet so I think I’ll stay around.”