Opinion & Editorial

Fifty First Names Only: A remix

I started a monthly column titled, “Fifty First Names Only” soon after purchasing The Creswell Chronicle in 2019. Early on it was easy to fill the column once a month as I immersed myself in Creswell and the surrounding towns, meeting residents, business owners, government officials, and many others from all walks of life. 

The column took a break during the pandemic when the coronavirus stifled engagement. Still, it was published for two full years – that’s 1,200 first names. 

As much as readers enjoy the names and interactions – and, perhaps, recognizing someone they know – our newsroom team looked forward to it as well.

In fact, they want in on the act. 

So .. welcome to Fifty First Names Only, a collaboration of Chronicle staffers sharing tidbits and fun facts about the interesting folks encountered during our jobs. 

– Noel, publisher

Erin Tierney-Heggenstaller, executive editor

The publisher and I were out to lunch this month – literally, and perhaps even figuratively – when we met Meredith, who moved to Oregon four years ago. She’s a server now at Gateway Grill in Springfield, and chatty folks that we are as journalists, we got to asking her about her origins. She’s a go-getter from Kansas, having decided to save her money to make her independent move to Oregon, a state that she considers “a very magical spot.” No argument there. The restaurant, she said, has been fortunate to not miss a beat during the pandemic. She credits its success largely to the owner’s initiative to extend outdoor patios into the parking lot, implementing fire pits at each table, and adding heaters to the deck in the early days of the pandemic. The Wednesday lunch hour was busy with customers. 


I’m taking a stab at becoming a Master Recycler through the county program. The class started this month and Kelly, master recycler coordinator at Lane County Waste Management, complimented the “record attendance” with 19 students this term, including: Albert, Alida, Cynthia, Dane, Diana, Emily, Jennifer, Josh, Karen, Laura, Liam, Luke, Paige, Pam, Shelley, Sherry, Sue, and Vicki. Presenters Jeff, Angie, and a second Jeff have been briefing the class on a variety of recycling-related topics, from “wishful recycling,” to the Green Fence policy, and what is recyclable and why in our county.

Part of the free nine-week course includes field trips to waste management facilities, including to the Short Mountain landfill in Goshen, where we met with Chad, who gave us a colorful, albeit smelly, tour, giving us the downlow on the landfill’s methane capture capabilities and its management of adjacent wetlands to reduce impact of the flora and fauna.

Chad gives a tour to Lane County Master Recycling students at the Short Mountain Landfill on Jan. 21.

The same day, we also visited the Waste Management facilities in Glenwood, where we got to see firsthand how recyclables are sorted and compressed. Rick with Eco Sort, and Kelly gave us the tour.

Rick, of Eco Sort, educates students while on tour at the Waste Management facilities in Glenwood.


I have also been enjoying serving on the board of the Oregon Society of Professional Journalists. The board, which includes Antonio (East Oregonian); K. (Street Roots, Portland); Henry (Eugene Weekly); Katy (freelancer); Bryce (The Bend Bulletin); April (Oregon Public Broadcasting); Jayati (The Oregonian/OregonLive); and Hannah (Catalyst Journalism Project) have been working on finding mental health resources for journalists, and doing what they can to help alleviate financial woes of laid off area journalists, more recently of the 20 editorial staff who were laid off after the daily Medford Mail Tribune closed operations this month.


Aloha dropped off a batch of delicious chocolate brownies for our staff as a “thank you” for providing Martin Luther King Jr. Day coverage. She also sent along a darling card, and read aloud a poem that resonated with her, author unknown. Here’s an excerpt: “Hold out your hand and / Do all you can with what you have / In the place you are / With the time you have / Do all you can.”

Larissa Garcia, reporter

While compiling sources for an upcoming article, a simple fact-checking email turned into conversations with Jeff, Loralyn, and Mike, all who were eager to share their two cents.  … These days, great customer service can be hit or miss. Luckily enough, Gwen, a triage nurse at the doctor’s office, exceeded my expectations. She addressed my concerns with care and professionalism and told me to have a great day. It’s the little things that go a long way. … Diana came by the office to drop off a belated wedding gift for my husband and me. Beyond her control, the gift was backordered and came three months late. Her effort to deliver the gift spoke volumes to her character. 

Ryleigh Norgrove, reporter

This month awoke us all from our sugared-up holiday daze – and for new friends at Urban Lumber Company, Nick and Seth, that meant carving out a few hours to walk me around their mill and processing plant in historic Booth-Kelly. Can you believe their mill is one of the largest in the U.S. and built from an old car lift? …

On the local government side, this month’s Springfield news would not have come without all of the help and support of Amber, Zak and Niel – all of whom have been incredible at keeping me in the loop and answering all my hurried and silly emails. … And Cottage Grove said “so long!” to former mayor Jeff, (who still owes me a beer) after he stepped down from his post leading the Grove for nearly a decade. The transition into covering the Grove wouldn’t have been possible without his guidance and honesty. … Jason from Lane County Public Health spoke to me about new projects coming down the pipeline to promote rural access to health care (and  behavioral health, too!) while lamenting the cost of living in California and the busy holiday season. … Rebecca from DPSST was an exceptional resource and a friendly face helping me navigate the treacherous waters of public records requests and Jenna, from Spectrum’s poetry open-mic, wrote a creative and thoughtful haiku to ring in the new year.  

Noel Nash, publisher

After a recent haircut at Mike’s Barber Shop in Springfield, Geoff let me know about a delivery issue he was having with the paper. When he wrote down his name and address, I realized I had misspelled his name a few months ago. Sorry! … I met Ethan at a BNI gathering. He has visited 77 countries and all 50 U.S. states. More to come on that story!



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