Monthly Archives: August 2011

Front Page 8.24.11

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Power outage canceled

This morning’s planned PG&E power outage in the Trinidad area was canceled. FYI

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UFO over McKinleyville?

McKinleyville resident and former Fifth District Supervisor candidate Daniel Pierce came into McKinleyville Press headquarters this afternoon, Aug. 19, with a video of what he claims is a UFO flying over McKinleyville.
Pierce, who lives on Park Avenue in the Calville part of town, said he first saw the mysterious object flying over town on Saturday night, Aug. 13, but didn’t have a camera with him to film it.
But it returned Sunday evening, Aug. 14 shortly after the moon came up. Pierce said he saw the object from his porch as he looked to the north.
“It moved like a dragonfly,” he said. “That’s how UFOs move.”
In Pierce’s video, what he claims is a UFO appears from 00:53 to 1:04 minutes. It looks like a round light with a reddish hue.
Pierce said he doesn’t know what the other illuminated objects are in the video, but said they’re definitely not telephone poles, light poles or wires.
Asked what he thinks the round object in the video is, Pierce said “It’s either a government machine, or the aliens are here.”
Pierce added “The aliens are here. Let’s stop ignoring it.”
Pierce plans to inform the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors of this phenomena.
What do you think?

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Front page 8.17.11

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Horses help with beach rescue in McKinleyville

Just in from AFD:

McKinleyville Family’s Horses Assist with Beach Rescue

MCKINLEYVILLE, CA- (08/13/2011)-

A McKinleyville family of six and their two horses Sioux and Vego assisted with the rescue of a 54 year old beach goer after she slipped and injured her ankle while hiking. The injured woman was visiting the beach near the mouth of the Mad River when she slipped on the moss covered rocks and was rendered unable to walk. The patient’s friends called 911 and gave rescuers their general location, which was a remote portion of the beach. Arcata Fire Department and Arcata Mad/River Ambulance were dispatched and after searching the area discovered the injured woman on the edge of Mad River near its mouth.
Rescuers were concerned with an incoming tide because the patient was down between the river edge and a steep cliff. As they began to make arrangements with Calfire to have the patient air lifted out the Robinson & Alexander families and their two equestrian friends were summoned by firefighters and they gladly obliged. As the horses were prepared for their new task the patient was packaged for a spectacular beach ride on unstable terrain. The patient was loaded and the family assisted the rescuers lead the horses to an awaiting ambulance.

The patient was extremely grateful for the family and their horses. Although she was in a great deal of pain the rescue went off without a hitch and the woman was transported in stable condition to a local hospital.

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Arcata’s loss, McKinleyville’s gain – Cypress Grove Chevre expands in Dow’s Prairie

Just in:

CYPRESS GROVE CHEVRE LOCATES LAND FOR NEW GOAT DAIRY

Humboldt County-based Cypress Grove Chevre announced today that it has agreed on terms and entered into escrow on a 38 acre site on Dow’s Prairie Road in nearby McKinleyville.

The land is adjacent to other agricultural properties and will be home to Cypress Grove’s new goat dairy, which will supply much needed milk for the growing demand of the company’s line of award-winning goat cheese.

“I’m pleased that we found such a suitable piece of land nearby the creamery,” said Mary Keehn, founder of Cypress Grove Chevre. “The fact that it is so close to our first site makes it a little nostalgic for me,” added Keehn, referencing her original dairy, creamery and home, which was also located on Dow’s Prairie Road when she started Cypress Grove Chevre in 1983.

Substantial funding provided by Cypress Grove owner Emmi of Switzerland will enable Cypress Grove to build a modern, humane dairy by following proven best management practices. Herds will be maintained within well-ventilated and naturally lit indoor spaces while also enjoying outdoor access.

Included in the plan will be efficient manure management that meets all government regulations and allows for productive re-use as fertilizer and soil amendment. The goat herd will begin with 200 carefully selected does and is expected to grow to approximately 1200-1400 over the next 5 years.

The new dairy will create 12 living-wage, fully-benefited jobs between the McKinleyville and Arcata facilities and will help ensure Cypress Grove’s future in Humboldt County.

“We are thankful for the great number of property referrals we received from citizens”, commented Pamela Dressler, General Manager of Cypress Grove Chevre. “It’s gratifying to know that we have a lot of friends and supporters out there.” Dressler went on to thank the Arcata City Council, Humboldt County Supervisor Mark Lovelace and the community development directors of the City of Arcata and Humboldt County; Larry Oetkter and Kirk Girard respectively. “Our final decision is pending positive results from further inspections of the parcel, but timely and informative support from local government was a great help to us in refining this property search.”

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Front page 8.10.11

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McKinleyville Press History, Part IV: Paper gets a new lease on life after editor finds true love

(In celebration of the 15th anniversary of the McKinleyville Press, Editor Jack Durham looks back on the newspaper’s history in a four-part series. In the Aug. 3 edition he wrote about his desperate attempt to sell the in 2008 paper. Here is the final installment, for now.)
By Jack Durham
Press Editor

I maintain that whales bring good luck. That was certainly true in the summer of 2008.
During the last week of July, I saw grey whales off our coast almost every day for a week. They were spouting at the mouth of the Mad River. They were swimming around Trinidad Bay. I hardly ever see whales, but that week was different. It was phenomenal.


The week after seeing the whales, I took my first true vacation (6 days in a row) since starting the paper in 1996. Courtesy of my parents, I flew to Glacier Bay, Alaska, where I met up with my family. I saw calving glaciers. There were bald eagles and grizzly bears. I was dazzled by the beauty, but that was just the beginning.
A month later, Cupid’s arrow pierced my heart when I met Kim Allen. I fell head over heels for her right away. This was the woman I would marry.
Within days of meeting Kim, my business partner handed me a box filled with important papers, bank cards, keys and financial records and said “Here’s your newspaper. Now go $@&$ yourself.”
I was elated! I was madly in love with a wonderful woman, and I finally had control of the newspaper.
I also had a lot of things to learn. There was an entire side of the business that I had never handled before – the books, banking, billing and deliveries to all the racks and retail locations (Before I only delivered to a few locations). Overnight what had been two jobs at the newspaper became one job, and it was all mine.
On my first full day of having sole control over the McKinleyville Press, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to get started. I had a lot of things to figure out. Looking over the books and bank statements, I quickly figured out that things were in total disarray. The entire business side of the newspaper needed to be restructured.
On the editorial side, I needed help. By chance I had just met McKinleyville resident Karol Andersson, the founder and former editor of The Independent newspaper in Southern Humboldt. I called her up. “Karol, I need your help.”
She became my Assistant Editor and helped me out for the next year and a half. Karol was exactly what the paper needed at the time.

Changing priorities

Up until I met Kim, my main priority in life was the newspaper. I used to labor 60 to 70 hours a week on it. For years I skipped family events, celebrations and even funerals. “Sorry, I’ve got a newspaper to put out,” I’d say.
Live and learn. As Willie Nelson sings, “Regret is just a memory written on my brow. And there’s nothing I can do about it now.”
I had found the perfect woman, so things were going to be different. My main priority was to woo her, spoil her as much as possible and convince her to marry me.
This wasn’t going to happen if I ran the newspaper like I had before. I wanted the paper to be part of my life, but not my entire life.

So my Assistant Editor and I held several margarita-fueled strategy sessions at the Six Rivers Brewery. We came up with work plans and schedules. I changed my duties at the paper.
As much as I enjoyed being a reporter, I was going to have to shift my responsibilities. I would serve as the managing editor, publisher, ad salesman, bookkeeper and delivery guy. My main job, from then on, was to keep the paper alive.
When I look at the back issues of the paper from this period of time, I can sense a little more vitality on the pages. They’re more colorful. There’s more warmth.
I learned to be more focused and efficient, which allowed me to come to work, get my job done, and come home at a reasonable hour. This allowed me to focus on my most important project – Kim.
Kim and I were really hitting it off, and having lots of fun. It was during this period that I started to take a little time off to go camping and explore the great outdoors – for the first time in over a decade.
The Press, however, was still for sale. Although I didn’t want to get rid of it, I felt I had to if I were to ever take a real, multi-week vacation. That may sound selfish, but you only live once, and I want to see the world. There are so many places to go and so many things to do.
Less than a year after meeting Kim, I popped the question and she said yes. We planned a wedding at Moonstone Beach, but what about a honeymoon? I had a newspaper to put out.
It was time to get creative. I sat down with the folks at Western Web and asked for their help. The plan was that I’d get writers and people in the community to provide me with as much material in advance as possible, I would take in-depth features, opinion columns and photos and assemble six pages of each edition spanning a period of three weeks – all before I left on my honeymoon.
It was a lot of work, and a lot to ask from my writers, but it got done. The folks over at Western Web offered to help me out. They would assemble the rest of each week’s edition while I was gone. They would get it printed and delivered to the post office. Karol would deliver the paper to all the racks and retail locations.
Everything was set to go. On Nov, 14, 2009, Kim and I got married at Moonstone Beach. The next day I went to work putting out a newspaper. After the paper was put to bed, we jumped on an airplane to Italy.
For three weeks, the McKinleyville Press was out of my hands. If a problem arose, there was nothing I could do.

Jack and Kim Durham in Amalfi, Italy.

Jack At the Valley of Temples in Sicily.

    We went to Rome, Naples, Herculea, Pompeii and Amalfi. We made our way down the boot and crossed the Straits of Messina to Sicily. We traveled to Palermo, then rented a car and drove straight through the center of Sicily. We saw the towns where my wife’s great-grandparents came from, then made our way to the Valley of Temples, then flew back to Rome. We visited the Vatican and, on our last day, saw the Pope at the Spanish Steps.
It was an amazing trip, and when we returned the McKinleyville Press was still alive. Now that I had discovered I could run the newspaper and occasionally sneak away to take a vacation, I lost interest in selling it. Eventually, the listing expired.
Months later someone called and asked about buying the McKinleyville Press. “Thank you for your interest, but it’s not for sale.” I told the caller.

Small is Beautiful

One of the things that amazed me in Italy was the small scale of local businesses. I knew that there would be lots of little shops, but I assumed that was just the facade for tourists. Somewhere, further back in each town, there had to be a Safeway or a Wal-Mart, right?
Not that I could tell. Everywhere we went, the shops were tiny. They made Roger’s Market in McKinleyville look like a Costco. A hardware store in Amalfi was the size of my office, maybe smaller.

Naples

 

They do things on a smaller scale, and that seems to work. Maybe constantly trying to be bigger, and constantly trying to grow, isn’t the way to go.
That thought certainly occurred to me more and more over the last couple of years as I studied the nuts and bolts of the McKinleyville Press.
Trying to make the paper bigger and bigger as I had in years past didn’t really work, and I had the numbers to prove it.
There’s nothing wrong with being a small newspaper, I thought to myself. Print the paper that you can afford to print. Just keep it going, and keep it honest. Be creative. Try to cover as much news as you can. Have fun. That’s the plan.

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McKinleyville Press History Part III: Hyper-local coverage and why the paper was put up for sale

(In celebration of the 15th anniversary of the McKinleyville Press, Editor Jack Durham looks back on the newspaper’s history in a four-part series. In the July 27 edition he wrote about the weekly grind and the paper’s growth. Here is the third installment, published in the Aug. 3 edition.)

By Jack Durham
Press Editor

In 15 years of printing, the worst-selling edition of the McKinleyville Press was the one that came out on Sept. 11, 2001. It was printed and mailed the day before the terrorist attacks.
The top headlines in that edition included “Philp says leadership needed in Sheriff’s Dept.” and “Wrangling continues over McKinleyville subdivision.” In the days following the terrorist attacks, people didn’t care at all about this local stuff, and I can’t blame them.
I was sleeping in the morning of Sept. 11, which was a Tuesday. I woke up, turned on the news and stared at the TV with disbelief. Surely this was just some weird aviation accident, right?
The horror unraveled, and I watched just long enough to get a sense of what was really happening. Then it was time to get to work.
After seeing what I had just seen on TV, I was a little paranoid, and I thought others might be feeling the same way.
So when I decided to go to the Arcata-Eureka Airport to see what was going on, I chose to do so on a bicycle. I knew there would be guys there with automatic weapons. Maybe they’d  be a little paranoid too. But a guy with a dorky bicycle helmet on a 10-speed is nice and non-threatening. When I arrived, there were deputies with rifles. It was surreal.
On Central Avenue, I came across Terrie Smith, who was holding a giant flag and marching up and down the street. That may seem odd now, but I understood what she was doing. On that day, and the days that followed, there was a tremendous amount of grief and a sense of powerlessness. You had to do something, even if it was just a symbolic act.
My job was to cover the Sept. 11 attacks, but from a purely local angle.
I interviewed the late Danny Wright of Westhaven, whose son, Tim Wright, was at the Pentagon when a jet smashed into the southwest side. Danny related that his son heard and felt the explosion, and that he assisted with recovery.
I wrote about the madness at the Arcata-Eureka Airport, where bomb walls were going up. McKinleyville residents were organizing blood drives and fundraisers.
Jen Butler, my McKinleyville High School correspondent, wrote about how students at the high school were coping. Jessie Faulkner found out what was going on at the elementary schools. All the Press opinion columnists weighed in on the attacks.

Hyper-local coverage

The post-Sept. 11 edition is good example of the paper’s mission to focus on local issues.
Sure, the big story of Sept. 11 was taking place 3,000 miles away on the other side of the continent. But it wasn’t this paper’s job to cover the story unless it was local.
Our job was to report what was happening on Central Avenue, not 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
I used to joke that if a nuclear bomb goes off in Humboldt County, it’s not a story that will appear in the McKinleyville Press unless the reporter finds a McKinleyville angle.
But I’ve loosened up over the years. I quickly realized that we needed to expand our coverage area, and that there are county-wide issues that can’t be ignored. When Daniel Mintz joined the Press in  2000, he offered to cover the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission on a regular basis. I wasn’t going to turn that down.
Ever since Mintz joined the paper, we’ve had regular, consistent county-government coverage. We lost Jessie Faulkner to The Times-Standard a few years later. Then along came Elaine Weinreb after the Humboldt Advocate faded away.

Stories and names

When I sat down to reminisce about 15 years of newspapering, I envisioned writing about all the interesting stories that we’ve covered and all the scoops.
But why regurgitate old news stories that everyone has already read? I decided against doing that.
I’m also hesitant to name all the people who were part of the McKinleyville Press and helped the paper out over the years. Years ago, in a previous anniversary edition, I attempted to make a giant “thank you” list with all the people who helped – the writers,  photographers, columnists and others who pitched in and saved my hide time after time.
After that issue came out, I realized I left some names off it, so I thanked those folks in the following issue. After that, more names popped into my head. There are just too many.
But if you ever wrote for the paper, or helped me out, you know who you are, and you have my appreciation. Thank you.

McK Press becomes a broadsheet

The McKinleyville Press started as a tabloid. That’s a term most people associate with Hollywood gossip rags, but it actually refers to the size and format of the paper.
The Press was in a tabloid format, like today’s North Coast Journal but with fewer pages.
In October 2011, The Del Norte Triplicate informed us that its paper stock would be narrower, making the tabloid size even smaller. It was long overdue for the McKinleyville Press to grow up and become a broadsheet, like it is today.
A few years later, the Press started printing in full color. Then we split the paper into two sections – an A and a B. Eventually we were lured away from the Del Norte Triplicate in Smith River by the folks at Western Web. We started printing on their press in Fairhaven.
We were growing and I was always trying to make the paper bigger. When people would ask me how the paper was doing, I’d say “Great!” It seemed like the paper was booming. And maybe it was, but I couldn’t really say because I wasn’t in charge of the books or the banking. That was all done by my business partner.
I had faith that the business side was taking care of itself. The rent was getting paid and the electricity was still on, so it looked fine to me.
Little did I know that there was trouble. Behind the scenes, some checks were bouncing. Bank fees for “insufficient funds” were increasing.
Here it was my job to know what’s going on, to keep tabs on local government, but I was blind to what was happening to my own business.
Something was wrong, and I didn’t even know it.

Paper up for sale

It’s hard to say exactly when my relationship with my business partner began to fall apart. Maybe it was 2004, 2005, or 2006. I guess I was like a frog in a frying pan; I didn’t really grasp what was happening until it was too late.
Things got worse and worse, until finally she wouldn’t even speak to me. It was a miserable existence. The joy of being a newspaperman was almost sucked out of me.
I lobbied her to hand the whole paper over to me, but that didn’t work. I would have bought her out, but I didn’t have any money. The paper was just getting by. Barely. I was stuck. Things were dire.
At the time, I would have gladly handed the paper over to her just to get out of the situation, but she didn’t the technical skills to put the paper out by herself. The idea of closing down the paper and just walking away from the nightmare was something I never considered.
Then, out of the blue I was approached by a potential buyer who would give each of us a chunk of change for the paper, thereby terminating the partnership. After the paper was sold, I would be hired on as the editor. It sounded wonderful. I would have a steady paycheck. I would still get to run the paper, but without the hassles of owning a business.
I was eager to close the deal, but there was always some sort of complication. Month after month dragged on, and nothing happened.
Desperate, I decided to let the cat out of the bag and list the paper for sale. My desire to sell the paper was now public knowledge.
An article titled “Stop the Press” appeared in the North Coast Journal, in which I said I wanted to sell it because it was time for a change. That was an understatement.
After that article came out, complete strangers were calling me up and telling me how sorry they were that I was selling the paper. They praised me for all my years of work. They wrote thank you cards and heartfelt notes. My response: I cried, then carried on.
In the first couple months, there was a flurry of interest in the paper. Locals and people from outside the county and even the state were inquiring about buying the McKinleyville Press.
There were a couple potential buyers who were pretty serious about it. But then the economy started to crumble, and they were scared away.
Unfortunately for John Frederick, my real estate agent, I was the person that all potential buyers had to talk to regarding the nitty-gritty details of the newspaper and its finances.
Looking back, I think I was subconsciously trying to subvert the sale by scaring off potential buyers. The McKinleyville Press was my baby. I wanted to keep it, but not under those conditions.
There was one buyer who came along and offered to pay exactly what I was asking. There was only one problem – he was a dope grower. Did I want my paper to end up in the hands of a dope grower, who would probably end up closing it down anyway? No deal. There are more important things than money.
(Next : Gray whales, love, Italy and an appreciation for small businesses.)

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McKinleyville Press History Part II: Paper grows

(In celebration of the 15th anniversary of the McKinleyville Press, Editor Jack Durham looks back on the newspaper’s history in a four-part series. In the July 20 edition  he wrote about the birth of the newspaper and the first edition hitting the streets. Here is the second installment, which was printed in the July 27 edition.)

By Jack Durham
Press Editor

After the first issue of the McKinleyville Press came out, subscription checks trickled in. We had a dozen subscribers, then two dozen, then three dozen.

To save money, we hand delivered the newspapers to each subscriber. We drove all over town stuffing newspapers in mailboxes, tucking them under doormats or handing them directly to our readers. I had a lot of fun doing this. I got to know our readers on a personal level. I received feedback from them, and sometimes story tips. But as the subscription list grew, this delivery method became unmanageable. It was time to get acquainted with the U.S. Postal Service and the beauty of Second Class Postage.

After the first edition, more columnists joined the paper, including Kate Ramey, Thelma Hufford, Elizabeth Alves and Patti Fleschner.    The paper’s slogan was “Your Town, Your Newspaper.” The focus then, as it is now, was on local news.

There was no shortage of fodder for the news. The McKinleyville Citizens Advisory Committee was battling over the McKinleyville Community Plan – a process which continued for another four years.
The McKinleyville Community Services District had its own political battles along with a variety of projects underway, including a new library and ballfields.

The town was booming, and there was always something to write about. Commercial buildings were going up around town. New businesses were opening. People were growing dope and getting busted.  It seemed like almost every issue had a “scoop,” which was fairly easy since no other papers were really covering McKinleyville with much depth.

The weekly grind

In some ways, life back then for me resembled the movie “Groundhog Day,” in which a weatherman is doomed to relive the same day over and over again. Except in my case, instead of a day, it was a weekly cycle.     It was exhausting, but it was also fun and, at times, exhilarating.

Back then, the paper was printed Monday morning. After having stayed up half the night putting it together, I’d drive to Smith River, then drive back to the house. We put inserts in the paper by hand, and stuck mailing labels on all the subscriber copies. By late afternoon, the papers were hopefully delivered on time to the Arcata Post Office.

That evening I could rest until the next day, when it was time to deliver the papers to newspaper racks and retail locations. Then it was time to return phone calls, contact advertisers and work on articles and photos for the following week.

I covered meetings, which sometimes went on until 11:30 p.m.. That made for a long workday, I sold ads, made ads, wrote articles and took photos.
Preparations for the coming deadline began on Friday night. Columns needed to be typeset and articles written.

On Saturday, pages were cleaned and set up. On Saturday night, when it got dark enough, it was time to develop film, make prints and scan them in.

On Sunday, it was time to assemble pages and write any last-minute articles. If all went well, pages were corrected on the computer by 10 or 11 p.m. on Sunday. Then, they were tiled out on 8.5-by-11 inch sheets of paper, cut up, waxed and assembled.

By 2 a.m. or 3 a.m., the pages were done, and I could catch a little sleep before heading back to the printer in Smith River.

The process continued week after week. Some weeks I would work 70 hours, or more. Despite the long hours, I had fun, especially when I was a reporter. A reporter is, hands down, the best job to have at a newspaper. There’s nothing better than digging up a story, finding out all the details, and then scooping the competition.

Mad River Newspaper Guild

Nine weeks after the McKinleyville Press was born, my former Union coworker, Kevin Hoover, created The Arcata Eye.

As odd as it sounds, I think Kevin and I were still grieving over the death of The Union, a paper we deeply admired and missed. By creating new papers in its place, there was a feeling that we were resurrecting The Union, but in the form of two separate newspapers. That was deeply satisfying.

We decided to create an informal alliance with a grand name – the Mad River Newspaper Guild.     What is the Guild? Nothing, really. It’s just verbal agreement between two newspapers that they’ll help each other out every once in awhile.

For instance, years ago I was on deadline and my printer broke. I called up Kevin and he lent me his printer and saved the day. Sometimes we share stories. Sometimes we share photos.

We use a photo of the Hammond Bridge – the link between McKinleyville and the Arcata Bottom – as the Mad River Newspaper Guild logo, which appears at the bottom of page 2.

Although The Press and The Eye compete for a limited number of advertising dollars, it’s been a blessing having a sister paper of sorts.

I’ve been able to watch Kevin experiment with all sorts of ideas, both on the editorial side and with his business model. I’ve watched what worked and what didn’t work – and took note.

One of the biggest lessons I learned was that a community newspaper should only be as big as what the community will support. Sounds simple now, but it was a lesson that took more than a decade to learn.

For years I was always trying to print more pages. Ten pages were fine, but 12 were better. If I could fill 14 pages, I’d do it.

Sure, it was more expensive and time consuming, but it was an investment. Readership would soar, and advertising would blossom. But the only thing that soared was personal credit card debt.
Years later, I figured this out and came to the conclusion that small is beautiful. Until that happened, however, bigger was better. I wanted to grow, grow, grow.

Press gets an office and an employee

In 1998, the McKinleyville Press got an office upstairs at 1660 Central Ave. The paper was getting bigger, and I wanted a place where I could meet with clients and maintain an archive of newspapers.
It was also a place where the paper’s first real employee – Jessie Faulkner – could work. At least that was the plan.

So we set up the office. I scoured thrift stores for office furniture. Tim Hooven of Hooven & Co. donated a full-sized desk and had a crew carry it upstairs. The desk was in good condition with only one problem – it had a broken drawer. No problem, I thought, I can fix that.     All these years later I’m still using the desk, and the drawer is still broken.

It turned out that we didn’t use the office very much. Jessie was able to do most of her writing from the comfort of her home. She could submit her articles on disks, then later via email.

With late deadlines, it was more comfortable to work from home. So the office was only occupied a few hours a week. That didn’t change until a few years ago, when the office became the location where the paper was actually produced.

With Jessie on board, we had more and more content. The paper got bigger. We now had in-depth coverage of both McKinleyville and Trinidad.

A few years later, Daniel Mintz rolled into town and offered to cover the Board of Supervisors and county-related issues. We had even more content, and more depth.
With a couple years under our belt, people seemed to take the paper more seriously. We were here to stay, at least we hoped so.

(Next week: The worst selling edition of all time, hyper-local coverage, a relationship implosion, paper up for sale.)

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