By Polly Keary, Editor
My hometown newspaper growing up was the Oroville Gazette, and as tiny as Oroville was, the paper served towns even smaller than that.
Among them were Molson, Chesaw, Wauconda, Havillah and other hamlets that might consist of nothing more than a grange hall or a church.
Those small hill communities had a weekly news blurb in the Gazette, called Hilltop News, I believe, and reading it was a bit like listening to Garrison Keillor read the news in A Prairie Home Companion.
“Roberta and James Knowlton had a visit last week from their son, Andy, who is an insurance claims adjustor in the big city of Los Angeles,” it might say, or “About 25 people turned out for the annual community roller skating party at the Molson Grange Friday night. Kids enjoyed bobbing for apples, and there was all the roasted corn you could eat, provided by Earl and Marlene Jackson.”
News from very small towns is a bit different than from larger communities, in that the goings-on, the meetings and the potlucks, might not merit a news story in a larger paper, but are significant social events in a smaller community.
Names are more important in a community where all the readers are likely to know all the subjects mentioned. People are more aware of the relationships in the town, the weddings, births, divorces, graduations and funerals.
I thought that Hilltop News was a good way to get that hyper-local news into the paper, and last week, we decided to do something similar in the Monroe Monitor.
Last week, Chris Hendrickson and I met with some folks in Sultan, including Woody and Judy Woods and Debbie Copple, to talk about how to get something like the Hilltop News into the Monroe Monitor.
They had previously experimented with publishing a regular community newsletter, but it was pretty labor-intensive, so they asked if there might be a way to make the Monroe Monitor the vehicle for the newsletter.
So Notes from the Valley was born, and this week, it gets its trial run. The Woods’s plan to try to compile news bits through the week, including the discussions held at community meetings, volunteer activities, small but noteworthy town happenings and more.
They will send the gathered data to us over the weekend, and we’ll compile it neatly under one heading.
I am pretty excited about it. It’s a way to really communicate the tenor of the more rural communities of the upper valley, and it will help us not miss anything of importance that might have otherwise gotten past us.
If you have news items you’d like to share, send them to Editor@Monroemonitor.com under the heading Notes from the Valley, and I’ll add them to the week’s mix.