Opinion & Editorial

Fifty First Names: April ’23

Erin Tierney-Heggenstaller, executive editor

I was impressed by the glitzy and starry event put on for the Cottage Grove Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards banquet at the Armory. There was barely a moment where I didn’t see Georgia, CEO of the Chamber, zooming around to make sure the trains were all running on time. 

Greg was there to photograph the event, and was kind enough to share some photos with me to display to our readers. If there’s one thing I learned in working with our photographers, Bob and Bobby, is that a trained eye, learned skill, and proper equipment makes all the difference, especially when trying to capture “a night under the stars.” 

Also at the banquet was friendly face Ellyn, who is working with The Chronicle and the Creswell Chamber to produce the always anticipated Mothers Day Yard Sale map that’s set to launch in the May 11 edition. It’s also great to see the intersections of support between both Chambers represented at one event. 

Speaking of intersections of support, I was thankful that Frank helped to hook me up with a thrilling experience to raffle off to supporters of journalism during the Oregon Society of Professional Journalists’ annual fundraiser in Portland. He worked his river connections and Evan was generous enough to offer a river experience for six along the McKenzie River. 

Aside from Henry, formerly of the Eugene Weekly, I was a bit of an outlier in representing journalists in the Southern Willamette Valley — a position I knowingly put myself in when joining the board. Largely a Portland crew, I was able to share some of the good work journalists in our area are doing, and learn more about the work being done in the Rose City and at the Capitol.

Like Shasta, a University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication grad and former Portland Tribune reporter, who led a Sunshine Committee of top investigative journalists to push for statewide policy changes on public records.

“Public records are  the raw material of journalism. There’s slag and chaff but when you find that nugget, it’s real and concrete, like earth or clay,” she said. “There’s plenty of government flack that is paid with taxpayer dollars to give (journalists) hot air, but what we really need is the clay that’s found in those records. That’s the foundation of this very important work of journalism.” 

Nick, editor-in-chief and reporter for The Lund Report, has been a staple at our board meetings, keeping us abreast of movements in the Legislature to either uphold or dismantle journalists’ abilities to do their job. It was nice to see him beyond the Zoom screen, and he was kind enough to facilitate some introductions to the scene up north, like Beth with the Oregonian and Tom, a lobbyist in Salem. 

The event centered around celebrating successes, like April of Oregon Public Broadcasting, who put in endless hours and grit toward House Bill 4087 that went into effect in January. Thanks to these efforts, the bill establishes media access to wildfires and other natural disasters on public lands otherwise closed to the public. 

The board honored Simone, Portland’s city auditor, with the prestigious First Freedom Award for promoting open and accessible government, after a heated incident where Portland City Council tried to block the proposal to create a government watchdog position within City Hall in February. 

Back in the newsroom, Dana recently fielded a call from a beloved subscriber, Ellen, who misses the Emerald Valley Almanac in print. 

Same, Ellen. The Almanac is personally one of my favorite elements of The Chronicle and it pains me to have to leave it out.

She’s not the first subscriber to call missing the Almanac.

Managing page count, content, and ad balance is a juggling act that we deal with on a weekly basis. The issue with the Almanac: we need advertising support to accommodate that page in print.

We are confident it will get sold soon and the Almanac will come back in all its glory. Until then, Elyse is still producing that content, which for now lives solely on our Sunday newsletter until we can get it back in print. 

Noel Nash, publisher 

The variety of interests and backgrounds of people stopping by the newsroom is always a pleasant surprise. Bill, radio voice of Emerald Challengers on KKNX, Jessica (parent of a coloring contest entrant), and Jane (also the parent of a coloring contest entrant and a bookkeeper for Prime Time Sports Bar & Grill). … Enjoyed lunch with Todd a few weeks ago, who gave us his take on the Main Street project. I also spoke with Brian on the same issue. .… Malia, who heads up Lane Leaders, visited our office; always great to meet and chat with someone dedicated to personal and professional development. … Speaking of professional development, I substituted for a member of BNI’s Hall of Fame group earlier this month. It was wonderful to get to know people like Summer, Taylor, Mark, Chris, Rachel, Kevin, Tanya, and Jay. Tammy, Lori, Kurt, Steve (a former Chronicle reporter and current painting contractor from Creswell), and Wendy were folks I’ve chatted with through the Eugene Metro BNI group. 

Ryleigh Norgrove, reporter 

This month my reporting took me all around, up and down — from Springfield to Creswell to Cottage Grove — and that’s just how we like it here at The Chronicle. I got to meet Celeste, owner of Celeste Watch Shop on Main Street and learn about her free-flowing, adventurous and storied life. I was inspired by her tales of living on a sailboat and her tenacity—  there really is nothing like the ocean to teach you what you’re made of. 

Also in Springfield, I met up with some of the frontline workers at PeaceHealth as they navigate the end of their bargaining agreement: Val, Kevin, and Kevyn were just a few of the friendly faces to brave April showers to picket outside RiverBend … Tatiana and I got to link up for coffee downtown – and chatted about the industry, story-telling, data-journalism and the state of papers in the Willamette Valley. We got some good laughs in. 

In Creswell, the TUF is still up in the air — the council only needs one more vote to cinch its passing. Dave, who recently returned from a spring-break trip to Mt. Hood, was kind enough to take my phone calls on his drive home from vacation to comment on the council proceedings. 

In Cottage Grove, I met up with Eric, who makes a great cup of coffee and taught me about the city’s initiatives to keep CG green — from planting 50 trees during Earth Month, to coordinating the tree branch pickup — he’s sure been busy! Scott gave me a ring to talk about BMD funding, so keep an eye out for more coverage surrounding BMD in upcoming editions. 

And finally, this week we published Magnolia Gardens, a long-form investigative piece the newsroom has nicknamed my “baby” because at this point I’ve been carrying it for eight months and it’s finally come to term. It would not have been possible without the support of Lindsey and Katie from ProJourn — an arm of the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press — which provides small news organizations, nonprofit newsrooms, documentary filmmakers and freelancers — no-cost legal help with pre-publication review and public records access.

Pierre Weil, reporter 

April was an unfortunate month for the high school sports beat, as weather canceled or postponed hundreds of games across the state. Despite that I still had the pleasure of getting out to lots of games. I met Jeff, head coach of the Thurston softball team, after Thurston’s dominant 17-1 win over North Eugene earlier this month. On the non-high school sports beat, I had the pleasure of getting lunch with Kyle, the new assistant general manager of the Springfield Drifters, and Steve, a former RG reporter and my sports journalism professor at UO. We chatted about possible coverage plans for the Drifters, a summer wooden-bat league team that plays at Hamlin. I also sat down with Tim, owner of MooDo Taekwondo in Eugene. We chatted about the Oregon State Hanmadang, a martial arts festival that he’s putting on at the beginning of May. 



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