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The Highway 58 Herald is celebrating its one-year anniversary and it’s all because of you, our readers

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By GEORGE CUSTER/President/The Herald — Who would have thought? The Herald went live exactly one year ago on this coming Monday, February 28.

Running on hope and a prayer, Oakridge’s digital news site cobbled together a staff, a board of directors, and were given a place to hang our hats. Having a couple of distinguished journalists with their combined experience approaching 100 years certainly helped. Doug Bates, our founding Editor-in-Chief and home-grown Pulitzer Prize-winning son, selected the experts who would help design our “newspaper” site.

You, our readers, quickly pushed our numbers of views beyond our expectations and gave valuable input for its content.

It’s not cheap running a news site.

Herald flyer
Postal customers in the Oakridge-Westfir communities will soon be receiving these flyers in The Herald’s first marketing campaign in tribute to its first anniversary of publication.

In fact, keeping the doors open and the site running cost more than we initially planned. Everybody on The Herald has been digging deep into their own pockets to pay the bills. Luckily, our spouses and partners were sympathetic to the cause and allowed The Herald to bleed red for a while. Did I say, “for a while”? We’re still eking out our existence.

Contributions by our readers continue to play a critical part in keeping the expenses at bay. Donations are always welcome and encouraged. It’s important that we keep The Herald free for as long as we can. We’re determined to give the communities along the Highway 58 corridor a reliable source for news and information. We want it to be fashioned by you, our readers. It’s your news: Oakridge’s, Westfir’s, Crescent Lake’s, as well as the “lower 58” communities of Dexter, Lowell, and Pleasant Hill.

How it started: a history lesson

Joy Kingsbury called a meeting last fall to ask what could be done to “get the news out.” She had started to print a few copies of what she called “The Noticer”, at her own expense. Oakridge needed more, though. It took Bates two meetings. At the start of the third meeting, Doug walked in and announced that he was “all in.” It was Katie-bar-the-door after that. He started making calls and developed a prospectus that would be our guiding document.

In his quest to bring in another hired gun, he cajoled a lifetime associate, Dean Rea, to come onto the board. Dean has been a real trouper, taking on the editorship for a spell while things were a bit crazy. I sit in awe every time I am in a room with either of these two. I learn so much about the subject of journalism and news reporting that it makes my head spin. I’m sure they both wish that I would absorb more and spin less. Susan Knudsen Obermeyer comes to our Board having the experience of living her entire life in the Oakridge/Westfir area.

The Herald is a labor of love and commitment

As hard as it is, I love this job. I love The Herald. I’m so proud of what we, and you, have made of it. Our volunteer reporters are working hard to get local and regional news to our readership. I, and the entire Herald team, appreciate their efforts, immensely. As I reacquaint myself with being editor once more, I’ll be needing all the help and support I can get. And, yes, we’re still trying to raise funds to hire a full-time editor.

George Custer Interim Editor
George Custer in front of The Herald’s office on Highway 58 in Oakridge. Herald photo

They say in business that if your venture can survive the first year, you’ll probably be fine. So here we are on our 1st birthday. Still eking out our existence. Still searching for our pot of gold at that rainbow’s end. Still dedicated to The Herald’s mission: “to fill a news vacuum in communities desperately in need of accurate, comprehensive and reliable information that citizens need to participate fully in community life and to stay safe in times of emergency.”

Coming to your mailbox

Look for a flyer in your mailbox that tells you about The Herald and how to find it online.

Happy birthday to us and to you.

George Custer is president of the Highway 58 Herald and a founding member of its board of directors. On Tuesday, March 1, he takes over as interim editor as The Herald seeks financing for the hiring of staff.

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