The inhalation of the last Mounds candy bar leftover from the Christmas stockings coincided with the last file of the current issue of the River Journal being uploaded to the printer. You can read it here, but first, how about a sneak peek at the 'behind the scenes' action with this issue?
Of course, where to start? First off, you might notice I've been tinkering with the look of the front page again. I do that a lot, mostly because I'm self-taught at design and layout and figure it can always be improved. If you like how it looks, let's give credit where credit is due - to the never-ending thoughtful advice of Keokee's design wizard Laura Wahl, who is responsible for the wonderful look of Sandpoint Magazine.
A big change is the "where in the world is the River Journal?" photo is now just one column wide, leaving room for a timely picture of happenings in our area on the front page. This is another item I've avoided, mostly because I didn't want to make the time commitment to attending enough events to make sure each issue had a photo. And then it hit me - why not let our readers provide the photos? And so the "River Journal Hot Shot" was born. Bonner Awards is making the mugs as I type, and let me encourage each and every one of you, right now, to submit those photos!
This first issue of the year kicks off with the first column of our newest columnist - historian extraordinnaire Nancy Foster Renk. Her column, Backtracking, will take us through the last 100 years of happenings in Bonner County, in honor of the county's centennial this year. Look for her column in the first issue of each month.
Cassandra Cridland took on, without hesitation, the stories of the CIRCLES project, despite my crediting the last story she wrote to Sherry Ramsey. We got her name in there correctly this time, and she did a great job explaining how a small group of people in Bonner County are working to eliminate poverty in our area.
Jinx may have a few surprises in store for people when they read her story on Family Violence, as she talks about her own experience in living through such a situation. It was her hope that in describing some of what she lived through herself, she can encourage others in that type of situation to take the action necessary to get out.
You won't see it online, but the print edition of this issue kicks off our first-ever (I'm pretty sure) crossword puzzle. I'm not sure why so many readers have requested a crossword puzzle, but I was never that excited about providing one - I mean, you pay for those things and it didn't seem worthwhile to me. But some folks, at least, want one and it finally occurred to me - why not make up my own? And make it all with local questions? It's kind of a 'local trivia contest' and I thought the questions might be too easy - but so far, no one who got a 'sneak peak' has been able to get them all right. It will be interesting to see what people think of it.
Another new feature is the "Top News Stories" of the last few weeks. Kind of a USA Today approach to the news - my attempt to provide our readers with at least some information on what's been going on, without trying to find the time or the room for in-depth features. As lots of people keep telling me, "you know, not everyone reads the Bee." (or fill in their local paper.) One thing I like about RJ is we're still a free newspaper - so we provide access to information to any who want it.
Jody got his "Surrealist" column ("Reel" Good Bad Films) in early, as he took off for a week in California, taking my now 16-year-old daughter with him. It was a great trip, he said, and never fear - he's back in time to get the print edition delivered to Bonners Ferry and other points north of Sandpoint on Thursday.
Finally, Lou Springer sent in a great piece on a little happening in Heron this holiday season - when a community came together to make sure teacher Kathleen Huntley, widowed this year, was kept busy thinking about her "12 days of Christmas surprises." As Kathleen was quoted in the article, "This is why I choose to live here. The community is filled with caring people..." Yep. That's why I choose to live here, too. What a wonderful group of people we share our surroundings with. Kathleen, by the way, was a teacher's aide at Hope Elementary back when my almost-20-year-old son was in first grade. And as a left-hander, she was able to teach both my left-handed children how to tie their shoes, something I had been totally unable to do. (Thank goodness they'd come up with velcro by then.)
That's it for this issue. I head to Spokane bright and early in the morning to pick up our newest issue "hot off the presses" and get it delivered from North Idaho College to Clark Fork. (Jody gets it to Bonners Ferry... and my mama takes it out to all the Montana delivery points. Yeah, it's a family newspaper all right.)