An icon steps down after 30 years of service

Nancy Leonard, Editor Upper Rogue Independent

This is the last issue of the Upper Rogue Independent under my ownership. The new owner assumes the position on June 13.

I have been involved with the newspaper since shortly after it began. The first involvement was when my husband’s business (Village Real Estate) sponsored a weekly community calendar of events, which I put together and delivered to the Independent office on the 2nd floor above what is now the barber and beauty shop in the building at Main and Platt. Daughter Marcia also became involved with what was then the Eagle Point Independent early on as Mark Flint, owner/editor, sought art work from students. She was among EPHS students who had their artwork featured on the front page of the newspaper.

This newspaper began as a result of great turmoil in the community regarding the Eagle Point (District 9) school district and taxes. A new high school was being built, local property taxes were used for schools. Those taxes were voted on and people in District 9 would not approve funds to educate their children. District 9 became well known around the world as the district that had the longest school closure in history (some seven weeks). Once a tax base was approved children went to school almost into the start of the following school year.

Back to the Independent, the newspaper started because the Mail Tribune was not part of the community, was not able or perhaps interested, in the community’s problems and the rumor mill ran the lives of District 9 voters.

The paper started as a tabloid known as the Eagle Point Independent. Later it became a broad sheet, then went back to a tabloid under my ownership nearly 30 years ago.

I may have to write that book that everyone thinks they can do to trace some of the ups and downs of our small towns over the last 30 years. But before that ever happens, I can recall some six city administrators in Eagle Point, recalls in both Shady Cove and Eagle Point, strike efforts, strikes, floods, and other publications done prior to my ownership. Some of those included the Medford (previous name) Chamber of Commerce Newsletter and an artist magazine that we sold advertising in, and published. A sports magazine was attempted, unsuccessfully.

One of the problems in the organization at that time was an effort to do too many things and not meeting deadlines. When I became owner, I released nearly all the staff, eliminated every publication except the Independent. We reverted back to the tabloid publication.

When I started at the Independent daughter Marcia was the editor and still in high school, but about to be college bound. As time went by, son Michael became interested in photography and was the winner of a Western Fairs photography award.

Someday perhaps there will be a time and a place to reminisce much of the history In the meantime, my “baby” is about to be in new hands. It is with mixed emotions, but as many of you know, I have been dealing with significant health issues and can no longer keep up the pace. It has been difficult for me to hold up my end of our three-legged stool; editor-production-front office. And it has caused an inordinate amount of work for my small, very dedicated staff.

There is not room or time to say thank you to all who have, and do, keep me going. I can only ask that you don’t forget me.

And now it is time to pass the baby on to a former employee, one who is familiar to many, Ralph McKechnie. For the last couple of years he has been “for” the Independent in his byline, as he was no longer officially on the staff. Now, you will see his name “Of the Independent.”

Please join me in supporting his efforts. Welcome aboard, Ralph.

Nancy Leonard (NL)

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