Letters to the Editor Part 1

1. Beacon insert-stuffer turned pro reporter

Dear Editor,

Although I was saddened to hear of the demise of the Humboldt Beacon, I wasn't hugely surprised. Small-town newspapers - even medium ones - are having a very difficult time surviving in this electronic age.

The Humboldt Beacon defined my life growing up. I began work there as a 12-year-old "stuffing" one section of the paper into another one after they rolled off the old presses. Now, of course, there is equipment that does all that and more.

In high school from 1958 to 1962, I wrote a student column (Huskies Bark if I remember right) and covered Huskies sports for the paper. I always had a summer job in high school and college and even served as editor and publisher while my folks traveled to the mid-West for nearly a month in 1965. In my mother's absence, I also was responsible for the payroll checks so everybody had to be nice to me.

The Beacon helped prepare me for a successful career as a newspaper reporter in Salem, Ore. My specialties were the courts and public safety agencies. Somehow, I suspect that my sense of curiosity evolved from dashing to the Fortuna fire department when the siren sounded so I could read the location of the fire on the chalkboard. Ah, those were the good old days. Thank you for the opportunity to say goodbye.

Janet O'Dell Davies

Salem, Ore.

2. Recalls Beacon scout support

Dear Editor,

It was with genuine sadness that I read the headline and article on the front page of your Dec. 1 issue: "Humboldt Beacon ends after 110 years." I have only lived in Redwood Country for 37 years, but your newspaper has been a true Beacon to me.

My first contact with the Beacon was with owner Dwight O'Dell. I had transferred to this area in 1974 as a professional Scout Executive with the Boy Scouts of America. Dwight was on our executive board for the Redwood Area Council BSA, and consistently helped Scouting through leadership, news coverage and financial support.

Back in those "old" days, we had Scout units from Fortuna to Ferndale to Bridgeville to Garberville and points in between. Without the Beacon, the "word" didn't get around for training courses, camporees,

Scout-o-ramas and other activities. Other southern Humboldters beside Scouters also depended on the Beacon, and they still do..

I have personally enjoyed the Beacon because of the variety of the coverage--sports, civic events, art, clubs, politics, you name it. The paper always had a small staff of reporters, but they were competent. Local correspondents, such as Beti Trauth, Heather Nyberg and Sylvia Jutila added a nice family flavor to the news.

Since the office facilities were moved to the Times-Standard headquarters in Eureka, the Beacon editing, and much of the reporting has seemingly been done by one guy, Franklin Stover. That's a huge job for any editor, and Frank must have broader shoulders than we see. We'll miss you.

How could the newspaper have stayed alive? More and better salesmen? Raising the price of an issue a dime to 60 cents? Cutting back a page or two in each weekly issue? Whatever, the powers-that-be decided otherwise.

It's a sad day for us all, and the Beacon departure will leave a big hole for a long time.

Mac Gardner


3. Got her back into reading the paper

Dear Editor,

It seems to be the sign of the times. History and longevity no longer holds much water with the powers that be, so a paper that has told the story of a community for over 100 years doesn't matter much in the eyes of the budget conscious. What's sad is the legacy we leave our children. Roots are important. In a world that seems more and more on the move, transient, uncommitted, the Beacon represented something solid and enduring. In it was the day to day dreams of ordinary people who were doing ordinary things. The sports pages featured our kids in football, basketball, wrestling, and other sports. The "people pages" showed members of our community giving back, doing what little they could to make our towns better places to live.

Personally, the Beacon brought me back to reading a newspaper. It connected me, gave me a little taste of the place I call home.

I fit into the category of "She ain't from around here" having been born and raised in a town that I now don't recognize or feel connected to at all. I married a long-time Humboldt County resident, 4th generation Eureka boy, who struggled to make the move just 20 miles south to Fortuna. My boys can trace their heritage back to the Karuk Indians and their roots run deep here. The Beacon was the paper that best represented that love of local history. There are plenty of places to get news these days. If I want information, the Internet provides a wide array of sites to satisfy my curiosity. But the Beacon featured MY town, MY community, MY interests. It is devastating that, after 110 years of serving this community, the Beacon's voice has been silenced.

I had hoped the Times-Standard would rethink this decision, but it seems the history, the legacy, and the local needs mean little in the face of a difficult economy and budget shortfalls. On a positive note, I want to say that I am so proud that both my children have had a chance to be a part of the Beacon's history, that the local Cub Scout Pack 47 has been a part of this icon of local news. I can look back and see the difference that Franklin Stover has made for our kids.

When I became involved with Cub Scout Pack 47, our little group had lost touch with its roots, hadn't reached out to our community. What began with Heather Emke and her commitment to service turned into a larger group of Scout parents who wanted to give back to a town that has always given to us. Without the help of the Beacon, those efforts would have been more difficult. With Franklin's help, our Scouts have been able to let you all know we are here to serve, to be a part of our community and to give back.

Thanks to the Beacon, for being that light on local events, local people and local issues.

Jennifer McKenzie

Pack 47 Cub Scouts

Troop 47 Boy Scouts


4. Youngster spots typo in Beacon becomes a writer

Dear Editor,

When I was about 8, I wrote my first letter to a newspaper. It was to Mr. O'Dell, pointing out that Humboldt was misspelled on the window of his downtown Fortuna office (no "d"). He responded to me with a typewritten note (I think my Nana still has it), acknowledging the error, thanking me for pointing it out to him, and explaining that the painter who had made the mistake had left the area and he was in the process of finding someone to rectify it.

Ten years later, after my Papa (who had been a printer at the Beacon and later the Times-Standard) put in a call to Pat O'Dell, I spent the first of two summers working at the Beacon. I helped sell the ads that ran in the rodeo section and got to write a few stories for it. My first bylines. All I ever wanted was to be a published writer, and I had my first taste of it at the Beacon. Marilyn Mendenhall took me under her wing, as did Charlotte McDonald and Leslie Ridgeway. And Ray Curless and his rodeo guys were always patient with me as I was finding my way through those first tentative interviews.

I went on to earn a degree in public relations, and after more than a decade as a writer and section editor at several daily and weekly newspapers, my career has meandered to marketing. But I am, at heart, a newspaper girl. And a warm spot in my heart will forever be reserved for the Humboldt Beacon.

Angi Christensen Harben

Ferndale Native

Director of Marketing - The Classic Center

Athens, Ga.

5. Responsive to local schools

Dear Editor,

I'm very sorry to see the paper cease publication. You have been extremely supportive of our district and it has been a pleasure to work with you.

We'll sorely miss the local news and the responsiveness you've shown to including information about events and particularly about the ongoing construction at the Middle School. Unfortunately we don't have it entirely finished for your final issue. Thank you for always being there. Good luck in your future endeavors.

Patti M. Hafner, Ed.D.


Fortuna Middle School

6. Increase Eel River pages in Times-Standard

Dear Editor,

What a sad and devastating announcement from the Times-Standard that they were ceasing publication of the Humboldt Beacon. This community newspaper for almost 111 years has been the cornerstone for news about the happenings in Fortuna and surrounding communities.

After reading the paper, you gained a sense of community happenings. The 16-page publication is jam packed with articles, announcements and photo's. Thanks to Frank Stover, the outgoing editor for doing a great job keeping a balance between all the types of material to be printed. Frank's interest in local affairs and his desire to write and then publish the material has won the applause from the readers.

Dave Kuta, publisher of the Times-Standard, we hope you will make good on your word to include an Eel Valley News page in the print edition on a set day every week. This is a starter commitment. With what is being lost with the closure of the Humboldt Beacon, I hope in a very short time you will increase the Eel Valley News page to pages.

Bob Besanceney


7. Thanks for your committment

Dear Editor,

My wife and I have subscribed on and off to the Humboldt Beacon for 30 plus years. The Humboldt Beacon was a voice for Fortuna and its surrounding community. We have our specific identity and involvments in activities and politics. The Humboldt Beacon reported our communities activities and gave the subscribers local information truly specific to Fortuna.

The loss of the Humboldt Beacon marks the end of Fortuna's journalistic identity, history, and tradition. Thank you for all the years of providing Fortuna a great local newspaper. Thank you Frank Stover for your committment and dedication as editor.

Dean and Gerrie Glaser


8. 'Appeared to be making a comeback'

Dear Editor,

The Humboldt Beacon has been part of the Eel River Valley for such a long time. In the past year it appeared to be making a comeback to local news and being a much better paper. I am sorry to see it go. It might be progress and signs of our times, but sometimes these are not necessarily the way we want them to turn out. To me, it is nice to sit, relax and read about local news at my own pace.

Pat Cahill


9. A Main Street good neighbor

Dear Editor,

It's a shame the Humboldt Beacon is closing up shop after 110 years of community service to the Eel River Valley. My family's business, Sequoia Gas Company had been next door neighbors to the Beacon for over 60 years. Our early years in business were built around advertising in the Humboldt Beacon and it was effective. My father Ben, was pretty clever when it came to the ads he ran in the Beacon. I can still see Mr. J.D. O'Dell coming out the front door of his office, hot on the trail of a news story. My father and him were pretty good friends and were known to discuss events of the day over a cocktail or two. Patrick kept the Beacon going and even expanded it, but his business interests changed and perhaps he sensed that the internet was the future, so he sold out. In my estimation, this was the beginning of the end for the Humboldt Beacon. All a crossed the nation large and small newspapers alike have been folding up, largely due to the internet and the ongoing economic recession.

Over the years, I've had the opportunity to work with many interesting people from the Beacon. Be it editors, correspondents or photographers, they all did their best to promote our area businesses and the Eel River Valley. I wish them all the best. My hope is that someone preserves the archives, for they tell the story of Fortuna and the rest of the Eel River Valley.

Thanks for the memories!

Shannon McWhorter

Sequoia Gas Company


10. Estelle Fennell Comments on Beacon closure

Dear Editor,

I am very saddened by the decision to close the Beacon. As a longtime subscriber, I will miss my weekly check-in with the Eel Valley community.

My work as a professional journalist and Executive Director of the Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights has made it clear to me that this paper has played an important role as a source for local news and information. After all, while we need to stay informed about the State, the Nation and the world at large it is the local news and local decision-making that most immediately affects our daily lives.

As a current candidate for Supervisor, I will miss this forum and its avenue to communicate directly with the voters as well as to contribute to the paper with my advertising dollars. Clearly, our local economic downturn played a role in the publisher's decision to end this publication. It is all the more crucial that we recognize the importance of creating a better business climate in Humboldt County.

I am concerned about the loss of income to the Beacon's reporters. In these tough economic times it will be difficult for them to make up that loss, as it will be difficult for us as a community to replace the vital thread of communication the Beacon provided.

My thanks go out to Franklin Stover and the entire Beacon team for your years of bringing us the latest local news, opinion, sports and entertainment. We will miss you.

Estelle Fennell


11. Thanks from Mateel Community Center

Dear Editor,

It was with great disappointment that we heard about the end of the Humboldt Beacon's 110 year run in bringing news to the people of Humboldt County. The Mateel Community Center would like to express our heartfelt appreciation for your support in covering our events and programs throughout the years. We'll miss your contribution to North Coast news and culture.

Justin Crellin

Mateel Community Center


12. Positive effects noted

Dear Editor,

I regret seeing the paper close. You have been a real asset to the community. I want to thank you, not only on behalf of myself, but on behalf of all who have had the benefit of the information, pleasure and wisdom your newspaper has provided us with for so many years. We will miss tremendously, but we will never forget you. You have had a positive effect on more lives than you know. Thank you for years of service and inspiration.

Rebecca Kimbel


13. Sad to hear

Dear Editor,

I was saddened to hear of the Beacon's closing. I want to thank you for being responsive and flexible in supporting the Humboldt Senior Resource Center when we've submitted donor photos or promoted events in the Eel River Valley. The Beacon will be deeply missed.

Roz Keller

Humboldt Senior Resource Center