Monthly newspaper calling it quits after 34 years, 404 issues
We announce with great sadness but also tremendous gratitude that January of 2019 will be the final edition of the Mid-county Memo.
The newspaper industry has seen scores of changes in the last 15 years. With rising expenses and declining income, it was evident a decision had to be made. After carefully considering options for the Memo’s future, it became clear that this was the step that had to be taken. My own proximity to retirement age tilted the decision.
The Memo’s website, social media and blog sites will remain active.
A little Memo history
Tom and Marcia Pry published the first issue of the Mid-county Memo in May 1985.
The Prys, whom have since passed away, owned and published seven neighborhood newspapers circulated throughout Portland in addition to a printing and graphics shop. Three papers are still published today: the St. Johns Review, the Sellwood Bee and the Hollywood Star.
In March 1988, the Prys hired me to sell advertising primarily for the Memo, but also for their other papers. In August 1991, when community newspaper journalism was profitable, I bought the Memo from the Prys.
Until this time, the Memo has been circulated at the first of the month by third-class mail and newsstands. We covered the Gateway and Parkrose neighborhoods. These neighborhoods were part of a much larger, unincorporated area of Multnomah County that stretched from 82nd Avenue east to Gresham city limits and from the Clackamas County line north to the Columbia River—colloquially called “Mid-county.” In the early 1980s, Portland annexed Mid-county. The area has since become known as “east Portland.”
Since its first edition, the Memo’s mission has been to provide a voice for the community by reporting news of the day, which we’re doing right up to the end. News stories provided substantive reporting and analysis based on facts, logic and reason. We hope the information helped readers seek practical solutions to problems affecting their neighborhoods. We tried never to tell readers how to think; we only asked them to think.
The feature articles showcased people, groups and institutions that enrich our community. In addition, we tried to bring readers together by publishing event information, presenting local business news and playing a role as a sounding board for readers. Moreover, the Memo furnished an alternative advertising vehicle for local businesses to reach their neighbors.
If you’ve never worked at a newspaper, it’s likely hard to understand why leaving it is so difficult. Newspapers, however, attract talented and interesting people. This kind of work means that every day is somewhat unpredictable and exciting. I’ll profoundly miss it.
The Memo has been home to competent and dedicated editors, freelance reporters, contributors and copy editors. I thank them all for their hard work and dedication—not just to the publication but also to the field of journalism.
Rich Riegel, who was the Memo’s managing editor in 1991, left Pry Publishing in 1991 to be the Memo’s first executive editor for eight years. Editors produced the monthly departments: Memo Calendar, Memo Pad, Business Memos and Letters to the Editor. In addition, Riegel did feature stories and hard news reporting. Riegel returned for a time in the mid-2000s to sell ads but left for good a few years later. Following Riegel, there were two Dawns: Dawn Taylor and Dawn Widler. Then, in April 2003, Darlene Vinson, my wife of more than 30 years, became the department editor. She grew up in Parkrose and shares the same love for it that you do. She added local restaurant ratings, local lottery results and the monthly Meals on Wheels Menu to the original departments. She also began reporting quarterly round-ups of student achievements.
Lee Perlman, whose work appeared in the first issue until his unexpected death in August 2013, was the Memo’s original freelance reporter. A former staffer for The Oregonian, he also wrote articles for just about every other neighborhood newspaper in Portland. He was described by a colleague as a “curmudgeonly self-contained writing machine.”
If you’ve followed the Memo regularly, you also read features and news reporting by Jane Braaten, Miles Vance, E.J. Flannery, Andrew Oman, Richard Dickey, Laurie Olson, Sean Nelson, Don Weston, Heather Hill, Karen Lynn Fisette, Joshua Bolkan, Josha Hill, Jarrod Hatem, Rachael Wilson, Kelly Copeland, Amber McKenna, Linda Cargill, Jim Stewart, Nathan Gilles, Jeri Cuerden, Patricia Rimmer, Pat MacAodha, Isaac Hotchkiss, Derek Andersen and Ygal Kaufman. For the last two years, Jack Rushall has covered the Memo newsbeat.
If you found the Memo’s copy comprehensible and, for the most part, error free and grammatically correct, it was thanks to Ali McCart, Lauren Groesbeck, Melissa Moore, Michele Elder and Carrie Meech. For the last few years, Sarah Currin-Moles has kept the paper readable. Again, thank you all.
As a mass-mailed, advertiser-supported newspaper, I want to thank the hundreds of business owners who have supported the Memo over the years. Without their business, there’d be no Mid-county Memo. I must acknowledge a few key long-term clients and friends. Advertisers expected measurable results from their ads. Many also understood the positive, yet unmeasurable effect that supporting a neighborhood newspaper has on the community and their businesses.
Brothers Jerry and Joe Danna have advertised their Elmer’s restaurants in every edition of the Memo for more than 30 years. Penny Sundholm, whose Friendship II gourmet coffee shop was one of the last businesses in the original Gateway Shopping Center, was not only a regular advertiser but also a business mentor when I first bought the paper. Father and son Bob and Kelly Brown, owners of the business first known as Bob Brown Tire Center and now known as Brown’s Point S Tire & Auto Store, advertised regularly for more than two decades. Charles “Buck” Best and his son Ron Best have had their display ad on page three for City Home Improvement for years. Mark Budlong, who owned Bill’s Steakhouse for decades, was a regular advertiser and source for community news. Brothers David and Bryan Ableidinger advertised their business Parkrose Hardware on the Memo’s back page for nearly 15 years until they sold in 2014. Darleen Hakola Wilson, owner of the Colour Authority salon in Gateway, advertised in every issue from 1988 until she passed away in 2014. Taekwondo Grandmaster Tae Hong Choi, owner of Choi’s Martial Arts in Gateway, advertised regularly for more than a decade until he died in 2009. When it was open, Aldo and then Joe Rossi often advertised their farm store and were a source for stories and Memo content. Al Sigala was also a source for content and a regular advertiser when he oversaw communications for Mt. Hood Community College. Gateway Keystone Cop and Gateway Booster Ron Manza was a source for many story ideas.
Another longtime advertiser until he sold his Postal Annex franchise was Bruce Altizer. East County Recycling owner Ralph Gilbert, and then his son Vince (Environmentally Conscious Recycling), sponsored the Parkrose High School Athletic calendar for years. There were many merchants in Menlo Park Plaza that advertised as a group. Among them were Ray Nuding, who owned Renaissance Press and advertised in every issue until from 1985 to 1998, when he moved the business to Milwaukie. Brian and Paulette Kelley of Kelley’s Furniture are a class act. Wes and Mercedes Cleary, who started Cleary’s Restaurant, advertised their place for years. Three generations of jewelers at Miller’s Jewelry Store advertised regularly—first Robert Miller, then his son Doug and now his grandson Justin. Not only did Denny and Joyce Edelen advertise Edelen Doors & Windows, but I also played on their company softball team. I have a scar to prove it! Jason Kindle, whom I first met when he managed the Refectory Restaurant dining room, went on to open Bridge City Taproom just down the street and has been very successful with former Refectory general manager Ed Olson’s help. Speaking of the Refectory, I want to thank Mitch and Ce Ce Stanley for regular advertising and news tips. Chefs Ivan and Jeff Runge, who both worked at Roses’s Restaurant and Bakery, then opened the American Broiler, their own restaurant. Larry Olsen, owner of Boss Hawg’s Bar ’N‘ Grill and Hawg’s 2 (and a marketing guru to boot), has been supportive of the Memo since he opened his places. Jerry Yost and Sheri Gartner Puppo at Gartner’s Country Meats were also regular advertisers. Linda Williams, marketing director at Oregon Baptist Retirement Homes (now Parkview Christian Retirement Community) advertised monthly for more than 10 years until her recent retirement. In addition, Eva and Eric Liu, owners of Kings Omelets, are enthusiastic community supporters, which included regularly advertising in the Memo.
Thanks for your business.
Holland Graphics did the Memo’s design and layout work during my first nine years as publisher. I met Linda Holland when we worked together at Pry Publishing. Debbie McWilliams has been the Memo’s graphic designer—both for its print edition and its web site—for nearly 20 years. When we were referred to her in 1999, she was living in Texas, where she’s from. Seven years ago, she married and moved to Michigan. We’ve never met in person. But despite the remove, we made it work. We worked by phone, fax, e-mail, UPS and FedEx at first, but eventually, all business was done over the Internet. If you’ve liked how the Memo and its website looked, that’s all Debbie. She is the best.
Many community members and business owners were regular sources of content and story ideas. I can’t list them all, but here’s some I’d like to acknowledge for their help.
Two of the first community members I met when I was first hired were Sharron Kelley, who became a Multnomah County commissioner, and Paul Thalhofer, who was later elected Troutdale mayor. We had offices in a business incubator on Sandy Boulevard. They were running Eastside Up at the time. A precursor to Parkrose’s current business association, they fed the Memo many story ideas. Hazelwood’s Jane Baker is one of Mid-county and east Portland’s best-known and best-liked community leaders. Wilkes neighborhood activists Pete and Dorothy Smith and Hazelwood’s Kay Collier were friends of the Memo, as were Sharon Owen; farmer Ron Spada was always helpful with story ideas; longtime Parkrose Heights Association of Neighbors chair Carol Williams and PHAN activists Trudy Jones, Grace Fitzgerald and Tom Badrick were helpful over the years with PHAN news; Judy Alley and Kirsten Wageman, SnowCap Community Charities executive directors, were regular sources of stories about its work; funeral directors Bob Baird, Jon Ollerenshaw and Paul Butterfield alerted us when prominent east Portland people passed away; retired pastors Bill Taylor and Charlie Ross were friends of the Memo and supplied us with good story fodder; and former Parkrose School District superintendent Karen Fischer Gray and her assistant Andrea Stevenson were always transparent and cooperative in providing district information. Parkrose High School’s Nicole Maynard, Lesley Bossert and Daunte Gouge, were indispensable sending us student achievement news quarterly. Linda Swenson and Grace Duggar were always timely with Portland Christian Schools news. Michelle Williams’ MW Photos was an essential source for athletic team photos. Julie Piper Finley, Meals on Wheels director of marketing & communications was our source for the monthly menu we published. Dave Luce, Parkrose’s Can Man, was not only a source for good information, but his volunteer work was the subject of more than a few feature stories. The venerable Ollie Lund, who was a longtime Argay Terrace resident and Rotarian as well as part of the team that brought the first McDonald’s to Mid-county, was himself a source of feature stories over the years. Property owners Ted Gilbert, Bill Bitar and Mike Reese were helpful with Gateway and Parkrose history. Argay Terrace activists Valerie Curry and Alan Brown were tremendous help not only with neighborhood concerns but also land use and Comprehensive Plan issues. The Memo chronicled longtime Russell Neighborhood Association chair Bonny McKnight’s fight against city annexation in some its first editions. We also covered her unsuccessful attempt to form a new city between Gresham and Portland. Later she kept the Memo informed what the city was doing (or not doing) in our neighborhoods. From government: TriMet’s Mary Fetsch provided crucial help with transportation articles; Bureau of Development Services’ Chris Scarzello helped us understand complicated land use issues; Prosper Portland’s Justin Douglas helped us understand Gateway Regional Center Urban Renewal Area news; and Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Dylan Rivera guided us around street construction and road issues. In addition, Jeff Martin, Multnomah County Health Department environmental health supervisor, provided the monthly restaurant ratings.There were many more, of course; I just want to thank you all.
And so, it is my decision to retire at the end of the month. I have enjoyed being part of a prolonged community discussion about important issues like growth, government accountability, community values and sustainability. For me, it’s the end of 27 years as publisher of the Memo and more than 35 years in the newspaper business. And it’s the beginning of a new, less structured chapter in my life.
I’m proud the Memo remained local and independent. It’s been a lot of fun. The Memo had a great run.