By Ken Stern 

The people behind the Weekly News


Probably not even the most loyal reader of the Weekly News noticed that this issue is volume 10, issue 11. Every week the issue number advances one and on the paper’s birth-anniversary date the volume increases one. This is the 312th issue under my ownership, completing my sixth year editing and managing the Weekly News. Year seven, with issue 313, starts next week.

News editor Bill Reynolds has quoted me, “I own it but it is the community's newspaper.” I do own it but my hope for and ask of readers has always been for engagement and participation.

Today I hold up all the participants – wage staff, freelance contributors and volunteers – whose contributions over the past six years have made each issue possible.

I start with Cindy Vest, former co-owner, and columnists Mel Damski and Pat Paul, inherited in the paper's purchase from her and Sandy Stokes. Mel and Pat are still contributing. Katie Kramer and Joy Neal wrote until the pandemic and a board of directors ended their times, respectively. Janet Saunders was calendar editor until then, also.

Judy Booth and Don Coyote still occasionally write and submit photos, as Robin Carneen has.

Writers and photographers who have knocked on my door or whom I recruited include. Anne Basye, Brad Bradford, Sherry Chavers, Nancy Crowell, MaryRose Denton, John Doyle, Max Drews, Kylee Fortygin, Janna Gage, Bob Hamblin, Madoc Hiller, Meg Holgate, Ollie Iversen, Paul Magnano, Jean Markert, Kit Muehlman, Bob Skeele, Claire Swedberg, Sarah Walls, Greg Whiting, Maggie Wilder and Aven Wright-McIntosh. Thank you one and all.

On the back side, to manage the office and account for the paper’s finances, Mark Stephens came early. Bobbi Krebs McMullen was pulled in around 2018. Michelle Havist spent three committed years as general manager. Sally Riggers performed heroically at the start of this year.

Rick Shorten, Tony Harrah and Bill Taylor are special beyond being friends and Rick's special projects manager title. They value the role of the Weekly News in the community and care about me, so they volunteer in ways small and large.

Finally, the staff. Bill Reynolds is a town treasure. Bless him for chronicling the news here. Rhonda Hundertmark has designed ads from the first year and been design and layout editor the last two. Marissa Conklin started out selling ads in 2021 and has become a skillful production manager. Eileen Engelstad first volunteered to proofread, then agreed to get paid for that. Jennifer Spritzer now keeps the books. Thank you. You are valued.

These are the people who have made the publication of the Weekly News possible the last 312 weeks.

And then there is Dick Wittenberg, who like most of us, loves to see his name in print. I am having my sixth anniversary as publisher – owner – of this newspaper because Dick called on a Friday afternoon in August 2016 and asked, "Did you see the story in the New York Times?"

I had not, did not know that the owner of the Hardwick Gazette was selecting the next owner of his weekly newspaper through an essay contest. Dick insisted I enter: “You can win that newspaper,” he said. I did not, but I entered three times. After the contest collapsed I searched google for “weekly newspaper for sale,” and here I am, in Washington state from Ohio via Vermont.

I love to tell that story, for my history of the La Conner Weekly News starts with friendship, love and an enduring belief in me. Who can ask for anything more?

Not me.

In a year, goes the song “Seasons of Love” in the musical “Rent:” “Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes / Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear. / Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes.e / How do you measure, measure a year?”

In six years it is 3,153,600 minutes.

They have gone by so fast.

Thank you, everyone.


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