Employees who make a difference

By | Eagle 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.”

Mike Connor chosen for Eagle vice president’s role

By | Eagle Newspaper, News

Mike Connor, manager of Eagle’s sprawling web press plant in Salem, has been selected vice president of the Eagle Board of Directors. Mike has been a member of the board since 2012.

Making the announcement in early January was the new Eagle president, Hood River News publisher, Joe Petshow. He said, “Mike’s role as general manager of Eagle Web Press, his knowledge of the printing industry, and his business acumen in general, make him a logical choice for this position.”

Mike, who this month marks his 39th-year anniversary with the company, was originally hired as a darkroom technician at B.M.E. Web Press, as the company was known then.

Fierce competition in 8-hour sale!

By | Eagle Newspaper, News

Advertising representatives at Eagle’s nine publications assist businesses in communities they serve to promote their offerings and increase their sales.  That’s a given.  But for eight hours on January 15th, they all hit the streets in their own communities with their own sales promotion:  selling advertising spaces of half-or-full-page size at reduced rates. 

The enthusiasm was contagious and the competition fierce!  When all was said and done the final numbers looked like this – – 64 full page ads and 357 half page ads were sold company-wide. 

The final tally recognized the top sales person at each publication: 

Isaac Maiden, Polk County Itemizer-Observer, Dallas

Teresa Myers, The Chronicle, Omak

Megan Slenning, Hood River News

Elaine Bakke, White Salmon Enterprise

Marilyn Roth, The Dalles Chronicle

Tim Graff, Daily Sun News, Sunnyside

Wendy Kunkel, Idaho County Free Press, Grangeville

Sherree Fisher, Moneysaver, Lewiston

Jo Schechter, NW Boomer & Senior News, Salem 

Cross-sells of ads into sister publications earned recognition also for Elaine, Marilyn, Jo, Sherree and for Deb Jones, Hood River; Tonya Schroeder and Ray Swift, The Dalles, and Bob Vassar, Moneysaver. 

Congratulations to Sherree Fisher of the Moneysaver!  She led the field of 27 Eagle sales reps who brought in ads during the 8-hour sale. 


Loss of ‘unsung hero’ mourned by many!

By | Eagle Newspaper, News

(originally published in the Daily Sun News, Nov. 22, 2013) 

by Tim Graff, publisher 

On November 6th, prior to Veterans Day on the 11th we published our annual Salute to Heroes special section honoring brave men and women who have faithfully served and are currently serving our nation. 

This year’s edition featured more than 230 photos of current and past military personnel along with some very nice features. 

That’s a part of being a newspaper.  We bring you stories that matter in your community.  The “We” includes not only reporters and editors, but also advertising reps, press operators, classified and circulation personnel, newspaper carriers and bookkeepers. 

Each person plays an integral part in the success of this newspaper.  Like the teeth in a gear, we must work together and mesh to grind out the paper. Most of us represent one tooth in the gear.  Nora Hernandez was responsible for so many teeth in the gears of this newspaper that it almost came to grinding halt with her passing last Wednesday. 

She is our unsung hero! 

Nora kept the wheels turning and the gears lubed by being the cheerful, efficient, competent worker and friend any business person could hope for.  When asked, she could supply you with the right answer.  Whether it was a line out of the employee manual, what price you charged an advertiser in last year’s special section or a subscriber who got overlooked by a carrier, she had an answer.  And she always did it with a bright smile and a “No Problem!” 

Nora started working for the weekly Sunnyside Sun newspaper in 1979 right out of high school as a typesetter.  She eventually worked into doing the bookkeeping for the Sun.  When the Daily News and Sunnyside Sun merged in 1987 she became the bookkeeper for the Daily Sun News. 

I remember when I took over as publisher when Tom Lanctot went to Hood River, he assured me that I had what was probably the best bookkeeper in the company (Eagle Newspapers) and he was right. 

Over the years she has kept us on track with her excellent attention to detail and winning ways.  Short of actually running the printing press, she had done every facet of the newspaper.  She sold ads and classifieds, has written stories, typed obituaries, made collection calls, and planned parties. 

Boy, could she plan parties! Every time I went out of town or had a vacation I was assured there would be a party in my honor that I’d miss out on.  Whether it was a potluck or just snacks, Nora would be sure and delegate who was bringing what.  I always got off light with only providing the home popped popcorn which she loved. 

So, we had a potluck today in her honor, because it would have been what Nora would have done if one of us had left for the day.  We only wish that was the case with our Nora.  And yes, I brought popcorn. 

She is dearly missed.  We will do our best to fill the position in some manner, but we will never be able to replace our friend, colleague, and unsung hero, Nora! 

Our HR director, and Nora’s buddy, Maureen Boynton sent out an email to other bookkeepers and publishers in the company informing them of Nora’s passing last week.  The following is a part of the email.  I couldn’t have said it better myself. 

“Beautiful and warm both on the inside and outside, she was intelligent, capable, quick-witted and always ready with a delightful laugh!  She is loved and will be missed by so many of us who had the privilege of knowing her.” 

We love and miss you, Nora Hernandez

November 24, 1957 – November 13, 2013.

New GM at Hood River News

By | Eagle Newspaper, News

Chelsea Marr’s commute is a bit shorter as she settles into the position of general manager at the Hood River News.

A veteran of The Dalles Chronicle ad staff, Chelsea was selected to work under News publisher Joe Petshow, who assumes his additional responsibilities as president of Eagle Newspapers Inc. in January.

“Chelsea is a rare find in the newspaper industry,” Chronicle publisher Marilyn Roth says. “Gifted with a charismatic smile and street smarts, her love of newspapers is a win-win for Eagle Newspapers. I look forward to working with Chelsea in the Gorge, and hope that a strong alliance between the Gorge newspapers will become stronger under her leadership.  And, yes, we miss her like crazy.”

Chelsea is pleased about the opportunities to be more involved in newspaper publishing. “People ask me what I like about the newspaper and the first thing that comes to mind is that it is never boring,” she says. “I like to be busy and this keeps me so! I work with a talented group of people in the business and I enjoy making community connections. A variety of media resources are available, yet we remain the most trusted source for news, information and advertising.”

It’s been 18 years since Chelsea and her family settled in Washington,  across the Columbia River from her new office.  She answered a help wanted ad for a sales representative at The Dalles Chronicle and began her career there.  Her husband, who works in construction, designed and built their home. They are parents of a seven-year-old son and his trusted companion, a beloved black lab mix.

Joe Petshow to follow retiring Eagle president

By | Eagle Newspaper, News

Joe Petshow, executive vice president of Eagle Newspapers Inc.,has been named to replace retiring president Tom Lanctot in January. Board chairman Denny Smith had informed the board of directors at the August meeting of Tom’s intent to retire Jan. 1.

A board member since 1988, Tom had been president since January 2007. Tom joined Eagle in 1986, when the company’s weekly in Sunnyside, Wash., merged with his daily there. He remained publisher of the Daily Sun News until Oct 1, 2001, when he became publisher of Eagle’s flagship Hood River News.

“I couldn’t be happier for Joe, Eagle Newspapers and our employees to turn over the reins to such a quality person,” Tom said. “Joe is a quick study and his passion and love for the newspaper business will serve all employees well,” Tom predicted.

Looking back, Tom said “When I hired Joe to take over the publishing job in Hood River in 2007, I had in the back of my mind,that someday he would replace me as president. It seems that has worked out.”

During his more than four decades in the Yakima Valley, Tom led his newspaper on a path from a typewritten publication printed on a sheet-fed press in a 1,000 sq. ft. building to an award-winning newspaper published out of a building of more than 11,500sq. ft.

Moving to Hood River his leadership skills were exercised in the Columbia River Gorge at a time of rapid technological changes for the newspaper and rapid growth for Columbia Gorge Press.

“It was a great pleasure serving as publisher of the Hood River News and manager of Columbia Gorge Press,” Tom said. “When I took the job in 2001, it was time for Bonnie and me to move. It was a decision we have never regretted.”

“At the same time,” he continued, “my promotion gave Tim Graff the opportunity to lead the Sunnyside newspaper and press plant. I’m especially proud of the great people that have worked for me, not only in Hood River, but in Sunnyside as well.

“This 42-year trip I’ve made couldn’t have been done without them. I have such great respect for everyone who works at a newspaper. There are no jobs that are more important than anyone else’s. It takes a team to put out a quality newspaper, and it has been a privilege being a member of those teams.”

After serving seven years as president of Eagle Newspapers and 35 years of publishing, he thought it was time to spend more time with family. However, he will continue to work for the company and sit on the board of directors.

“This, hopefully, will help make a smoother transition for Joe Petshow and Eagle Newspapers,” he said. “I don’t want to be in Joe’s way, but, if he needs some assistance or specific work on a project, I will be available to him,” he explained.

Tom said he was excited for Joe and is confident he will lead Eagle Newspapers with passion and a vision for the constantly changing demands in the publishing world.

“Timely dissemination of quality information, delivered on multiple platforms, is our connection to readers. That will only be enhanced under Joe’s leadership.”

Tom’s newspaper career was divided with 15 years as an independent operator and the last 27 years working for Eagle Newspapers. He began in Sunnyside in 1971, writing stories, taking photographs, and yes, of course, selling ads. “When I was hired at the Daily News, I became the fifth employee. In an operation so small you do everything,” he said.

Tom purchased the Daily News in 1977. He worked in all areas of the operation, including running a press. “It has been a great career for me. My wife, Bonnie, has always been so supportive of my career. Many years Bonnie worked at the newspaper in Sunnyside as well. We have had a great time and both of us realize the importance of a community newspaper in the lives of people in our small towns. We have seen it up close and personal many many times over.

“Like anyone who has had the privilege of running a community newspaper, the highlights are many. Some of those moments can be long drawn out stories; some are just the smallest of moments. But, all are important to me,” he said.

Tom added, “I appreciate all the opportunities that I have been given by Denny Smith, Dick Nafsinger and Jim Smith. Some of my best memories are serving on the board of directors and working with publishers/managers in our company. I’m also very proud of our central office staff, their dedication to Eagle and the support they have given me.”

Tom and Bonnie have two children, Jeff and Marci. Jeff lives in Mercer Island with his family.  Daughter, Marci, and her family live in Snoqualmie, WA.

Stunning magazine began as a ‘leap of faith’…

By | Eagle Newspaper, News

The ideas and enterprise at our newspapers have sparked changes to meet the challenges of both the struggling economy in our hometowns and advances in technology. Looking at new sources of revenue, the Hood River News and reporter Janet Cook took a leap of faith: a coffee-table-worthy quarterly magazine.

The Gorge Magazine is printed on high-quality paper with professional photography and has free distribution sites from Portland to Seattle, Boise and beyond. Advertising rates are as high as $1800 for the back cover. A far cry from the rates for special sections and focus pages for hometown small businesses that have helped Eagle’s newspapers dent the loss of real estate broker and auto dealer advertising.

The first edition last spring was expected to be a hard sell and budgeted accordingly, but there was no skimping on the content—64 pages with 22 advertisers. Stunning professional color photography jumped off the slick stock. Wardrobe, makeup and hair stylists prepared individuals before some photos. With it in hand to show prospective advertisers the sales job became a bit easier.

One year and two issues later, the Summer 2013 issue clocked in at 84 pages and 120 advertisers, plus a 32-page booklet insert, Gorge Winery + Brewery Guide. Its format was an opportunity for Columbia Gorge breweries, wineries, vendors and festivals to buy a small format ad at affordable prices—half-page ad for $495, less for smaller ads and much less for contact-only listings.

An 84-page Fall issue recently hit the stands and web!

The Gorge Magazine came about beginning two years ago when another local magazine, The Columbia Gorge Magazine, closed its doors after about nine years of publishing a quarterly magazine. “The former magazine announced it was closing and a couple of days after that, I was standing at one of the office printers waiting for something to come out,” Janet recalls. “Joe Petshow came over and said, ‘We should start a magazine and you should be the editor.’” She laughed, but Joe said he was serious. “I guess the rest is history,” Janet says.

The idea wasn’t actually too far-fetched. Janet earned a master’s degree in magazine journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. After graduating, she worked at Women’s Sports and Fitness magazine before returning in the late 1990s to Hood River—a place she’d discovered and fallen in love with and decided she couldn’t live without while a student at Lewis & Clark College in Portland.

There being a dearth of journalism jobs in the Gorge, she was happy to land work as a reporter and feature writer at the Hood River News, where she has more or less remained. She was the News’ Kaleidoscope editor for several years.

The magazine’s start-up took months, during which Micki Chapman, long-affiliated with the Hood River News—once in advertising, and for years as a graphic designer—was hired as ad director.  Rachel Hallett, who was the creative director at the former magazine, was hired in the same position. She worked initially as a contractor, but has recently come onboard as an Eagle employee.

Other long-time Hood River News employees working with the magazine are Joe Deckard, as an advertising account rep, and Adam Lapierre, a contributing editor. “It’s taken a lot of effort for our small staff to get this off the ground and keep it going,” Janet said. “But much credit goes to Joe for taking a leap of faith on this. He’s been a huge help all along in many aspects of it, and continues to be.”

ONPA – Better Newspaper Contest…and the winners are…

By | Eagle Newspaper, News

Oregon Newspaper Publisher Association – Better Newspaper Contest – July, 2013

Polk County Itemizer-Observer was a BIG winner – Congratulations to the IO team!


GENERAL EXCELLENCE – Itemizer-Observer (I-O staff)

Best Special Section or Issue – Explore Polk County (I-O Staff)

Best Headline Writing – Pete Strong

Best Graphics – Pete Strong (Money Makers)

Best Feature Photo – Pete Strong (Balloons in Independence)

Best Photo Essay – Pete Strong (CHS boys hoops state championship)

Best Sports Photo – Nicole Watkins (state track meet long jumper)

Best Web Design – I-O

Weekly Newspaper Division Sweepstakes Award – I-O


Best Coverage of Business and Economics Issues – Jolene Guzman and Craig Coleman (Soaring to the rescue; Birds can devastate wine grape crop)

Best Enterprise Reporting – Nicole Watkins (Doing more with less)

Best Feature Story:  General – Jolene Guzman (Soaring to the rescue)

Best Headline Writing – Kurt Holland

Best Lifestyle Coverage – Craig Coleman (Nourishing Nettles)

Best Sports Story – Nicole Watkins (Doing more with less: Is WOU athletic department fighting an uphill battle based on funding?)

Best Page One Design – Kurt Holland and Pete Strong

Best Graphics – Pete Strong (Doing more with less)

Best Feature Photo – Pete Strong (Here Comes Santa Claus)

Best News Photo – Pete Strong (Flooding and school bus at LVCS)


Best Special Section or Issue – Dallas Summerfest 2012 (I-O Staff)

Best Educational Coverage – Jolene Guzman (Extending an Education)

Best Enterprise Reporting – Jolene Guzman (Falls City: To patrol or not to patrol)

Best Feature Story: General – Craig Coleman (Capturing History)

Best Local Column writing – Nicole Watkins

Best Writing – Nicole Watkins

Best Graphics – Pete Strong (Polk County school district student numbers)

Best Sports Photo – Pete Strong (Central’s Tanner Omlid heads to the hoop)

27 total awards…Way to Go!

Make way for the press

By | Eagle Newspaper, News

The purchase of a Komori sheet-fed press created quite a flurry at Columbia Gorge Press and the Hood River News this summer. Serious remodeling was required to make floor space in the pressroom by encroaching on the generosity of floor space devoted to the newspaper’s operation. 

The new press opens further revenue opportunities for the already-busy company and allows it to perform work previously shopped out to jobbers, according plant manager Tony Methvin. He is expecting to have the first jobs coming off early in August.

On the Hood River News side of the remodeling project, consolidation of the news and production staffers moved to the north side of the newsroom. The most noticeable change is a floor-to-ceiling, east-to-west wall splitting the former newsroom down the middle. 

The remodel also made office space with a private entrance for The Gorge Magazine. Space was carved out of the former circulation office at the front of the building. Publisher Janet Cook and her team had been working in a one-desk office since launching the quarterly magazine last year.

Eagle Web Press manager Mike Connor dispatched Phil Murphy and Rick Smith to help Tony with the press tear down and set up. They spent three days in Tukwila, a suburb of Seattle, getting the more than 50,000-pound press and ancillary equipment ready for shipment.

Preparing for website launches

By | Eagle Newspaper, News

Six newspapers preparing for website launches! 

It’s been a busy month in the digital director’s chair. 

Most of my time has been spent preparing for the launch of new websites for the White Salmon Enterprise, NW Boomer and Senior News, Sunnyside Daily Sun News, Omak Chronicle,  Idaho County Free Press and Polk County Itemizer-Observer. All of the websites are being built at one time, and when they are ready to go we should be able to launch one a week over six weeks later this summer or early this fall. 

Eagle Newspapers also has partnered with AdPay for a revamp of our online classifieds system. When completed it will be easy for customers to place their ads in one paper and have their ad viewable by web users all across the region. Instead of just covering one small area, each paper’s classifieds will now have a much bigger footprint, hence the name of the new classifieds site, Big Foot Classifieds. 

In just a few short months our web presence will look significantly different across the board. The sites will be easier to navigate than the current versions and will offer each property the flexibility to keep them as simple as they want or get into more advanced uses, such as e-mail newsletters, blogs, listings for restaurants, bands and local events, live news updates and better integration with Facebook, Twitter and social media. 

Last month staff members on the six properties awaiting launch underwent training on the basics of updating content in the websites. In the coming weeks as more properties get closer to launch, additional training opportunities will be scheduled to dive deeper into how the sites work. 

Ben McCarty