It’s an honor to be recognized for the Signal’s earnestness

NANCY MCCARTHY

I’ve posted Thom Dickerson’s photo on Facebook. The photographer-owner of Laughing Duck Digital Pond, Thom captured my big smile as I held the “Business of the Year” award given to the Seaside Signal by the Seaside Chamber of Commerce at its annual awards meeting recently.

Sometimes, when you’re just minding your own business, spending too much time behind a desk or in meetings, diligently keeping track of the daily news, working with good, solid reporters who are just as dedicated to informing this community as you are, you lose track of what you’ve done the week before or the week before that.

But, apparently, this community didn’t forget.

What a surprise — and an honor — to be recognized for our earnestness!

Susan Huntington, director of the Seaside Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber board selected the Signal from among five nominees because the community appreciates having a community newspaper.

Well, we appreciate the community.

For nearly eight years, I have reported in South County and have enjoyed getting to know the people and the issues. When I first started working here, I worried that such a small area — compared to the Portland metro area that I was used to covering — wouldn’t have enough news to fill a paper. Boy was I wrong!

You keep me and Signal reporter Katherine Lacaze hopping. There isn’t a day that we don’t have to stop momentarily to catch our breath before plunging back into the fray. The same is true for Cannon Beach reporter Erick Bengel, who sometimes (when he can) breaks away to cover Seaside as well.

But we wouldn’t be a newspaper without the talents of two sales representatives. Wendy Richardson grew up here; she owned a business here for 24 years and also worked for the chamber, the Seaside School District and for the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District. She knows everyone. I often go to her when I need to contact someone or when I want a brief history lesson. She understands and truly cares about the South County community.

But she’s not the only one. Sales rep Laura Kaim is also fully involved in the community. She, too, operated a business in Seaside, she worked at the Seaside Chamber of Commerce before coming to the newspaper and her daughter, Anna, attends Seaside High School. Laura’s husband, Frank, works at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center.

Finally, Rebecca Herren, the person that callers hear first on the telephone or see first when they come to the Signal office, once was the Signal’s editor. She moved on to edit another local publication and finish her college degree before returning to the Signal. We value her experience and knowledge of the area, where she has lived for 10 years.

When the EO Media Group, which publishes The Daily Astorian and the Chinook Observer, along with many other publications in Oregon, bought the Signal and the Cannon Beach Gazette in March 2013, I was happy to become editor of the two papers.

The position offered me the opportunity to take what I have learned all these years and to coalesce it into newspapers that would inform, entertain and, I hope, inspire the community to tackle its issues, appreciate its neighbors and do good work.

The chamber’s award confirmed for the staff that we are on the way to accomplishing those goals.

But we weren’t the only ones honored that night.

Mary Blake received the well-deserved Byron Award for outstanding community service. Providence Seaside Hospital was named “Corporate Business of the Year.” Chamber ambassador Judy Parish became “Ambassador of the Year,” and Brian Owen earned the “Volunteer of the Year” award. Building block awards for up-and-coming businesses went to the Gearhart Bowl, Nonnie’s Restaurant and Maggie’s on the Prom.

And those are only the winners. There were multiple nominations for each category, which demonstrates how deep the talent is here.

It’s a delight to be able to cover this area. Not only is it a gorgeous place to work, but it also is filled with its share of characters, deep thinkers (sometimes they are one and the same), idealists, alturists and Energizer bunnies who tie up all the strings to accomplish the latest project.

And the projects we have covered! Salmon habitat restoration with upside-down Christmas trees; the relocation of two portable buildings from one town to the next to create a new food pantry; the creation of a state-of-the-art, nonpolluting system to handle Seaside’s biosolids; construction of Broadway Field and the creative financing of lights for the field; the installation of the osprey cam; improvements to flood-prone U.S. Highway 101 that have made the standing water practically disappear.

And that’s only in Seaside!

I could mention the creation of the inner-city trail in Cannon Beach, the installation of emergency cache containers on three tsunami safe sites, voter approval of the Ecola Creek Forest Reserve and the city’s purchase of the 55-acre South Wind site south of Cannon Beach.

And there are more projects ahead, including an eventual relocation of all the Seaside schools.

There’s a lot going on here, and it’s not about to end. What a trip! It has been a privilege to accompany you on the journey.

Nancy McCarthy covers South Clatsop County for The Daily Astorian and is the editor of the Seaside Signal and the Cannon Beach Gazette. Her column appears every two weeks.

There isn’t a day that we don’t have to stop momentarily to catch our breath before plunging back into the fray.

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