Our Town: 10 years of living, working and playing

August 2014 Posted in Other

ourtown01“It’s a place, a good place, but it’s more than that. It’s a group of people. And it’s a feeling. A feeling about home, family, community. A feeling about commitment, shared lives, mutual endeavor. It’s working together to make something – build something – worthwhile. Our Town.”

Those were the opening lines for the first issue of Our Town, Aug. 1, 2004.

“Our goal is to present the essence of life in this place, in this time, to our readers much as Thorton Wilder captured it for theater audiences in his 1938 play, ‘Our Town’ – a simple story told simply, and well. It becomes a powerful story because it is about our lives…”

The Stage Manager in Wilder’s play describes the weather, the place, the everyday lives of citizens of Grover’s Corners. Babies are born. Kids toss a ball and graduate high school. Folks work, share stories, and pass away.  Life’s not perfect. Not even in our town.

What we share is time, and it’s fleeting. It’s measured here not in days, weeks and months, but in moments, stories, lives.

“This publication springs out of love. Its founders – publishing veterans – believe in these communities. We share commitment and value vision. We jokingly refer to ourselves as the Work Family, but there’s a lot of truth in humor. Many others – supporters, contributors, advertisers – helped make this publication a reality.”

“Tell the narrative, share the story,” my colleagues urged as the 10th anniversary approached.

Well, the prose version: each made a contribution, each shaped the story. Not just the founders – the writers, photographers, advertisers, worriers, printers, dreamers, artists, supporters, adversaries. They were all important. They ARE all important. Each, for the gift they bring to the mix, is appreciated and, we hope, honored here. If not explicitly, then in the way we do our work and share the stories. Our Town is not “our” story… it is OUR story. We hope that along the way you’ve come to feel Our Town is part of your story.

paula_mI’ll work on the narrative for the 20th anniversary.  I think it will start with belief: We believe in community. We believe working together makes us stronger. We believe in the importance of place, the joy of children and that character is better than wealth …  In the meantime, the last graph of the introduction to the first issue still rings true.

“The last few weeks (years) have felt as though we have a huge extended family. All have our heartfelt gratitude. We’re here because we want to be HERE. We’re doing this because we love it:
our town.
We hope you love it, too.”

– Paula Mabry, Editor & Publisher

dixie_mAt the heart of Our Town has always been this desire to offer a community the news and information that the community itself needs and wants, presented in a way that supports and takes inspiration from that community’s own spirit. The personalities of the towns and regions that we serve have shaped not just Our Town, but the company that publishes Our Town, so much — and it’s always been an honor and a treat to be part of that evolution.

– Dixie McCartney, Creative Director

jim_kWhen we first started Our Town people would ask what it was all about I would cheerfully declare “It’ll surely be worth at least as much as you will pay for it!”…as in you won’t pay a dime, zip, zero, zilch, nada. You see, Our Town is brought to your door every two weeks free of charge because of the many advertisers that grace these pages every issue The folks that choose to promote their businesses here are your friends and neighbors, their kids go to our schools and they volunteer to make Our Towns a better place. They deserve your support – without them, there is no us…and without you, there is no them. We have enjoyed bringing Our Town to you for the last 10 years but remember, it’s the advertisers that make it possible… Shop Local!

– Jim Kinghorn aka The Man on the Street

deede_wWe wanted to personally describe what being part of Our Town has meant to us: Fortunate.Hard work. Joy. Commitment to our communities, and each other. Stressful. Thankful. Crazed. Blessed. Challenging. Humor. Long hours. Good people. Constant drive to make it better. Knowing you are helping connect people to places, and each other. Adventure. Family. Sharing. Being a part of something that seems so rare these days. Being a part of Our Town these past 10 years has truly been a gift, education, and an appreciation for those who support, contribute, work, live and play in and around our town.

– Deede Williams, Business Office Manager

kris_tIncredibly grateful and blessed – those words describe how I feel for the opportunity I have had to work for Our Town.
When publisher and editor Paula Mabry invited me to coffee 10 years ago and asked me to write for Our Town, I had no idea of the priceless life lessons I would learn, the friends I would meet and the adventures I would have.I am grateful for everything Paula has taught me and allowing me to do the two things I love – being a journalist and a mom. More times than I can count, Paula has told me to get going so I wouldn’t miss one of my children’s school or sporting events.I am grateful to my colleagues for their encouragement, support and being like a second family.Blessed – to live in such a wonderful community that genuinely cares about one another.Thank you to our advertisers for their support; the community for allowing us to share your stories and to my colleagues for sharing the same vision of the importance of a community newspaper.

– Kristine Thomas, Managing Editor


Not all of us are here after ten years. We remember our departed friends Timm O’Cobhthaigh, Bob Ellis, Winnie Bolton, and our office cat Charlie.

brenna_wIt warms my heart when someone says they like reading my Our Town stories. I think this is possible because, even though times are tight, our publisher and crew allow me the time I need to plunge into my subject, showing they’d rather produce a quality publication than get rich – though I’m sure they wouldn’t mind.People like to read about other people and my favorite thing is meeting those who are passionate about something – anything! Dashing it off with a few perfunctory questions is a missed opportunity to find out what makes somebody tick.I have worked with the Our Town crew since falling into journalism and we’ve become “one big dysfunctional family.” Yet it is at the hands of these people I learn my craft, am forced to keep growing and have the privilege to serve my community in such a fun way.

– Brenna Wiegand, Writer & Your Garden Editor

Linda & Mike Whitmore

Linda & Mike Whitmore

It’s not appropriate to hug a potential employer at the end of a job interview. Not at all. But that’s what I did after hearing publisher Paula Mabry’s vision for the new publication, Our Town, when she met with me in Mount Angel’s gazebo 10 years ago.

I had recently moved from a small town where I had worked 23 years as a writer and copy editor for the daily newspaper. Deep in my heart, I knew the importance of capturing the essence of a community by focusing on its people and its history.

Paula explained Our Town was to be a publication in which local news would be covered in depth – explaining both sides of issues. And it was to feature the individuals who make up the community.
Some of these are the business owners and shopkeepers. Did you know advertisers have “voices”? That’s what Paula calls their message. And in Our Town, the ads are placed in a way that these “voices” can be heard. The entire staff believes that by supporting community businesses, the community grows stronger.

I don’t know why I applied to write for Our Town, except perhaps out of curiosity. I had not planned to work in the journalistic field again. But when I heard Paula speak of her values, I was moved to give her an appreciative hug.

She hired me anyway.

– Linda Whitmore, Writer 2004-2010

Our Town in 2004. Deede Williams, Jim Kinghorn, Carolyn Berg, Paula Mabry, and Dixie McCartney

Our Town in 2004. Deede Williams, Jim Kinghorn, Carolyn Berg, Paula Mabry, and Dixie McCartney

When the doors opened…

Our Town’s founders are:
Paula Mabry • Editor & Publisher
Jim Kinghorn • Advertising Director
Dixie McCartney • Creative Director
Deede Williams • Print & Distribution Manager
Carolyn Berg • Business Office Manager
Sharon Frichtl • Our Town Santiam Advertising Director
Jerry Roberts • Printing Consultant

Two writers from our Aug. 1, 2004 issue, Linda Whitmore and Kristine Thomas, joined us as editorial staffers. Then Brenna Wiegand came aboard. Linda moved to Florida in 2010. Kristine is now managing editor. Carolyn Berg has retired, having trained Deede Williams as office manager.

Our current team has grown to include: graphic designers Steve Beckner and Tavis Bettoli-Lotten, advertising executive Maggie Pate, and special projects contractor Jerry Stevens. The Our Town Santiam staff includes graphic designer Dan Thorp, Datebook editor Sara Morgan, and courier Tammy Torrez.

Many writers and photographers have contributed to Our Town. They are listed in the order in which a byline or photo credit first appeared: Jeff Brekas, Winnie Bolton, Matt Day, Jason Franz, Timm O’Cobhthaigh, Mary Owen, Carl Sampson, Syd Stibbard, Mike Whitmore, Bob Ellis, Elena Hammond, Michelle Te, Valerie Wiegand, Vince Teresi, Russ Newell, Jodi Kerr, Susan May, Marti Olsen-Haworth, Kathy Bridges, Kathy Cook Hunter, Vern Holmquist, Madeline Lau, Kay Roth, Dixon Bledsoe, Marlee Le Dai, Jo Garcia-Cobb, Jan Jackson, Katie Tolmachoff, Steve Ritchie, Ron Martin, Cambria Roth, Kay Pendelton, Sharon Barnes, Vince Hauth, Sheldon Traver, Pat Johnson, Jay Shenai, Cali Bagby, Maggie Mertens, Ted Miller, Rachel Bucci, Aurora Ellison, Pam Milliren, Don Murtha, Omie Drawhorn, Dave Hopfer, Megan McFarland, Lindsey Evenson, Joan Lockwood, Clint Kamstra, Tami Richards, Chris Childs, James Day, JoAnne Traeger, Margaret Inoue, Andy Wooldridge, Madeline Trudelle, Jennifer Hill, Tanner Russ, Melissa Wagoner, and Molly Gunther.

Our much-appreciated minions (family members and friends) who have helped us over the years: Jason Williams, Matt Day, Hallie Day, Jared Nelson, Teah Smith, Blake Cosgrove.

Former team members include: Advertising staff: Don Robison, Scott Stokley, Roxanne Hinkle; graphic artists: Jillian Szilagi, Jennifer White, Raven OKeefe; contractors: Linda Bye, Ray Hunter, Nicole Kay, Cindi Vetter, and pressman Dan Weigel.

Thank you! If we’ve missed anyone, our apologies.

Our Town in 2014. Back Row: Jim Kinghorn, Brenna Wiegand, Kristine Thomas. Front Row: Maggie Pate, Tavis Bettoli-Lotten, Paula Mabry, Deede Williams, Jerry Roberts

Our Town in 2014. Back Row: Jim Kinghorn, Brenna Wiegand, Kristine Thomas.

Front Row: Maggie Pate, Tavis Bettoli-Lotten, Paula Mabry, Deede Williams, Jerry Roberts

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