Thirty years. It has been quite a journey, one we have been privileged to be a part of for about 25 of those years.
Just as communities and small businesses are the heart of this country, so are community newspapers. They don’t get the rave revues, they don’t always get the acknowledgment, nor do they always get the recognition but when they do, it is because they earned it, not because they were the biggest show in town.
Over the 30 years this newspaper has in many ways mirrored the
communities. It has had its ups and downs. It even quit publishing for
a period of time. A community member stepped forward and made its
continuance possible, but it was not a profitable journey. Again,
several things were tried including publishing for other entities
including the Medford Chamber of Commerce.
again in 1987 and Nancy Leonard took over the reins and eliminated all
publications but the Independent, which also cut back on the staff.
Based on much appreciated and needed advice, the newspaper settled on a
tabloid format (It had originally been that size and then had gone to
the full-size broadsheet.)
Long-term editors were hard to
come by. The first editor was Vicki Guarino. She went to the Mail
Tribune for many years and more recently is with Rogue Valley Council
of Governments. Marcia Leonard Aaron became the editor while still in
high school. She went on to graduate from the University of Oregon and
became a retail analyst until her retirement several years ago. Bill
Powell spent several years at the Independent and then went to the Mail
Tribune. Bill Kettler followed the same path and continues to have his
name in the Tribune several times a week. Other editors include Duane
Dungannon, now head of the Oregon Hunters’ Association and Paul
Coughlin, who is a vice president of public relations for the Chamber
of Medford Jackson County.
Sonya (Goodwin) Hemmings was
an intern. She graduated from the University of Oregon. We were very
surprised to learn she was the granddaughter of Joe Duggan, who was
our next door neighbor at that time. (Duggan’s ranch is now the Agate
Ridge Vineyard) on Nick Young Road.
Sonya is married and the mother of three who continues her writing interest as a free-lance writer and editor.
were several others who stayed for short periods of time, always hoping
they could land at a bigger paper. Bill Taylor did just that. But as
time went on we found the editorial position becoming a revolving door.
Some of the short-time staff truly didn’t understand the community in
community newspaper and really didn’t care that each year a certain
event took place and we should just know that.
A few of
those episodes and when the last short-time editor left, Nancy decided
to try her hand as editor, a position she has retained for the best
part of 20 years.
We’ve lost track of many staff members but every now and then names appear. Such has been the case recently.
and Carl Darnell, former long time Shady Cove residents, appeared in an
article in the Independent last week as they donated design work for
hoodies and t-shirts for Elk Trail students. Cindy sold advertising and
Carl was involved in production. Today they have Earthshirtz in Central
Ben Truwe is the newest member of the Medford City
Council and the "town historian" whom you read about as he directs
tours through the city, was a typesetter for the Independent and
remembered as an absolute perfectionist.
Allyson and Leonard Griffie manned the production department for some time. Allyson is now a 911 supervisor for Mercy Flights.
Wright (daughter of Olive Lansburgh) graduated from Stanford and is
mother of three. Mike Leonard, now a senior strategic consultant for
ADP Dealer Services, Laurie Boyd, Susan Stanley….the list and
memories go on and on.
We can only guess how many pages
we’ve printed in the last 30 years. A very conservative estimate would
be 35,000. We’ve gone from a large complicated typesetting machine that
printed out galleys in two widths that had to be corrected, re typed,
cut and pasted to the world of computers where we punch a button to
send the final product to the printer. The processing camera was an
iron behemoth some 10 or 12 ft. long. It is truly amazing the changes
we’ve seen in just three decades. It is a world of computers and
digital cameras, Changes can be made with a click or two.
despite all of the mechanical improvements, it still takes people with
a sense of community to put this newspaper together. And, of course, it
takes our many advertisers and subscribers. As mentioned earlier,
without that support this newspaper actually did close a number of
During this past year we’ve shared some of the
happenings of 30 years ago and hope to continue in an effort to
understand a bit more about an area we called the Upper Rogue community.
We wish each of you a healthy and happy new Year.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent