Reluctantly getting in the last word

By Franklin Stover, editor

I have the dubious distinction or "honor" of being the last editor of the Humboldt Beacon, and therefor, the last editor to pen an editorial for a weekly paper with a history of providing news to the Eel River Valley for nearly 111 years. Going down the proverbial ship with newspaper in hand, I am buoyed up by your precious comments and praises; these remind me that I am not the only person suffering from this loss. Unfortunate end, yes; but fortunate to have had the experience of running this paper for a short period of time, and happy to have met so many nice people in the process.

Life has a way of carrying on and regrouping despite appearances to the contrary. Let us stay in the moment and make bold plans for the future. And as W.C. Fields once said, "Don't be a moon cow." On losing good things, Ambrose Bierce wrote, "the best thing to do with the best things is to give them up." Said differently, maybe we have to lose something good to learn how to appreciate what we had. (It's too universal a thought to be original.)

So, with this seminal issue dated Thursday, Dec. 8, the Humboldt Beacon will cease publishing according to a decision made on Monday, Nov. 28 by Times-Standard publisher David Kuta. With the plan to terminate the Humboldt Beacon, the Times-Standard's idea is to expand on Thursday's Eel River Valley section. It won't be the same as a 16-page Beacon, but the Times-Standard has every intention of staying on top of Eel River Valley happenings. Give it some time to develop and don't be afraid to offer your advice.

After picking myself up off the floor from the initial shock of the dreaded news, I invited readers to comment on the closure for this week's issue; and rather than present the news as usual, I thought we should make this issue a tribute to the Beacon itself and to all those who have contributed news items, news tips, advertising copy and subscriptions over the many years.

First, I would like to thank a few people who made it possible for me to work for this paper. I am indebted to former Beacon editor, Christine Sackey for hiring me as a reporter 5 years ago. As an editor, Christine was an apt critic who offered useful advice and counsel. Later, when I applied for Christine's position (she left to go to the Times-Standard), Times-Standard editor Rich Somerville hired me to be interim editor of the Beacon. His vision, like mine, was to expand the readership, but unfortunately, Rich passed away shortly after I was hired, and newspapers everywhere have taken a nosedive.

Another person I want to thank is Janet Marchetti. Long before I appeared on the scene, Janet was assembling the Humboldt Beacon and saw a great deal of change with the paper. I thank her for pointing out where I failed to cross the t's and dot the i's. Finally, I'd like to thank Kim Wear, editor of the Times-Standard for knighting me to editor status. Others I want to thank include our writers, both past and present, some paid, some not. I also want to thank my predecessors, namely Beacon founder Gustave Jasper and J.D. O'Dell - these two families had the paper before Media News Group came along 8 years ago. My vision of the paper was much inspired by their work, and I felt a real connection to them with every issue I worked on. May future generations of reporters hear the ghost of Dwight's footsteps in the old Main Street building and be inspired.

I want to encourage Eel River Valley residents to continue fighting for a stronger economy, more jobs, more industry, and to get involved in public service. With the school consolidation issue in Fortuna, I was excited to see my mailbox swell up with Letters to the Editor. Regardless of what side you took, I was only too delighted to run your comments and to assist in the democratic process. I'll be keeping a watchful eye on future developments at the old mill in Fortuna, the Stewart Street water tank, and development of the multigenerational center. In Rio Dell, I will look in on redevelopment plans in Rio Dell, evolution of the CSD in the Town of Scotia, and developments in Ferndale-Loleta with the wind turbine issue and conversion of the navy housing facility. Things keep moving in spite of the news.

Hats off to the Eel River Valley independent weekly's like the Ferndale Enterprise and the Independent in Garberville for staying in the game.

The decision to cease publishing the Humboldt Beacon was a difficult one to make, I'm sure. I thank the Times-Standard and Media News Group for providing technical and circulation services to keep this paper going. Have an excellent New Year. Till we meet again.

photo caption:

Debbie Barcelles/Beacon

Franklin Stover, last editor of the Humboldt Beacon.