Employees who make a difference

By February 28, 2014Eagle Newspaper, News


Pat Letsch – Bookkeeper for the Polk County Itemizer-Observer, Dallas   Volunteering is what you do so others can be successful and Pat Letsch, bookkeeper at the Polk County Itemizer-Observer lives that walk.  Her volunteer career has revolved around supporting her children and their many friends in 4-H, FFA and other projects that came up.  Her family has been involved in the swine industry raising and breeding pigs.  Although her children are grown now, she is helping her grandchildren raise and show pigs and goats.

She doesn’t stop there; Pat is active in serving in leadership positions in the Polk County Livestock Association.  She has held the post of secretary for more than 10 years and about the same time in a slot on the Marketing Committee.

Ten plus years seems to be the magic number in her volunteer years as she and her daughter, Lee, are volunteer Swine Superintendents for the Polk County Fair, too.  Pat shared that fair time can be intense.  It requires juggling to keep animals, kids and parents organized and happy when it comes to preparing and showing their pigs for prizes or for the livestock auction.

Pat also is a member of the Polk County Fair Improvement Association.  She is a past president and currently serves on the board and as its secretary.  The association’s focus is on the fairground buildings, parking areas, shower facilities and other amenities to make it better for exhibitors and visitors.

Pat also is active in the Neighborhood Watch group in her area, which is located outside of Dallas, and serves as secretary.  For many years, Pat volunteered at her church to help with youth activities.

She really is a volunteering mom and grandmother who wants young people to have positive opportunities when it comes to activities and reap the long-term benefits of being a member of groups that they enjoy.  Pat says she enjoys her volunteer work, but “it really is all about the kids.”


Chris Portal – Eagle Publishing Technology     Chris can introduce you to his volunteer work with an alphabet soup of initials.  For years, he has been an amateur radio volunteer through the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and currently is an Assistant Emergency Coordinator (AEC) with Polk County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (PCARES) and an active member with Polk County Search and Rescue (PCSAR).  Oh, and he has another set of initials:   his W7CLP call sign.

He’s operated from home and in the field in emergency situations, which are not uncommon on the farms and timberland in the county, and he participates in training exercises.

Chris, a member of Eagle’s technology team since 1997, is a familiar voice on the phone when we call with frustration at the whims of our computers.  If you’ve seen his extremely tight quarters in the Dallas office, it’s not hard to picture the ham operator’s tools at home, which he describes as “a fully-stocked desk in a corner.”

In a normal week, Chris says, his Polk County work “probably involves 5-10 contacts and maybe operating a net control station once or twice.”  He also talks to dozen of hams around Oregon and Washington.  He has the gear, but doesn’t do as much long distance “talking around the planet,” but he’s got initials for that, too: DXing.


Lorie Palmer – Community Editor – Idaho County Free Press   Volunteer work can include a little fun, too.  Ask Lorie Palmer, Idaho County Free Press community editor, who joined other Kids Klub board members and friends in a Thriller Dance at an annual adult costume party fundraiser.  “It was the first time I ever danced,” she says.  “Growing up Nazarene, the closest thing I ever got to dancing was the roller rink.”

Lorie’s group of women from 18 to 50-ish took the first place Best Act and the Audience Choice awards.  Seven years ago the organization began its annual adult costume party fundraiser, Kids Klub Fall Festiva, around Halloween time.  She said this year’s Monster Mash theme lent itself to the Thriller Dance.

Lorie has served on the Kids Klub, Inc. board for 12 years.  She is currently in her third year as secretary.  The working board helps out with a variety of fundraisers and events that promote the after-school and youth program, which is dedicated to “making a difference in the lives of Grangeville’s youth,” Lorie says.

Both Lorie’s daughters were attendees of Kids Klub’s after-school program as well as Kids Klub Choristers, Kaleidoscope art program and Xperience Xpeditions middle school field trip program, all under the 18-year-old organization’s charter.

As far as that Thriller Dance: Lorie’s youngest daughter, who has tap and jazz danced in group and private lessons since preschool, gave her mom the “thumbs up” sign and said the dance “was pretty good.”  But she does not want her to perform it anywhere else.


Katie Montanez – Graphic Artist – Omak Chronicle    Katie says her first plunge into volunteer work came about in 2010 when she was asked to be publicity chairperson for the Okanogan County Relay for Life by the co-chairs, her brother-and-sister-in-law.  The next year, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  “It was very small and caught early, so I was very lucky.  But now, Relay for Life is more important to me than ever.”

Katie, who is The Chronicle’s lead graphic artist and composition manager, has been at the newspaper “all my life, it seems.”  Her family moved to Omak in 1961 and her father was a reporter at The Chronicle.  In 1976 he bought The Chronicle from Bruce Wilson, who was the owner/publisher.

“My official start date is 1979, but I used to work on the mailing crew, worked in the front office on Saturdays and did cleaning when I was going through school, probably mostly junior high and high school years,” she recalls.  “When The Chronicle was sold to Eagle Newspapers I just stayed there.”