The tradition of community correspondents filing weekly reports from various parts of the Methow Valley goes back for decades in this newspaper. Grab a bound volume of newspapers from 10, 20, 30 years ago and you’ll find the authors’ names and faces attached to the weekly missives from Mazama, Winthrop, Twisp and points south along the valley. It’s an old-fashioned kind of thing that was a lot more common among community newspapers in the past.
We’ve kept our correspondent columns going, through many years and many contributors, because they have become an important part of what we offer. They operate pretty independently — we don’t tell them what to cover or write about, and we encourage each to develop their own personal voice and style.
Some of our former correspondents — I’ve never really thought of them as gossip columnists, although they’ve been known to pass along rumor, conjecture or personal opinions — are still around. Our current lineup has been in place for quite a while — which is a tribute to their dedication and consistency in producing something, anything, every week. It’s not easy, and it hasn’t made any of them wealthy, except in the esteem of their Methow constituencies.
This week, after 15 years of entertainingly documenting the events, personalities and idiosyncrasies of Twisp, columnist Sally Gracie is moving on to the next phase of her creative career. As she accurately notes in her final regular column for the paper this week, she is not being replaced but rather succeeded.
When she relocated from Baltimore (Bawlimer, in local parlance) to her adopted home in the Methow, Sally brought with her the distinct character of what Marylanders call Charm City (I lived there for a while and know of what I speak, hon). Sally speaks her mind, prods when necessary, follows her curiosity and digs for information. She’s also not afraid to express passion, emotion, joy, sorrow, humor, dismay or indignation. Like our other correspondents, she has always been part reporter, part observer and entirely an invested resident of the valley.
We’ve been soliciting successors for quite a while with what Sally derisively calls “that ad.” She thinks we made the job sound too challenging or difficult, and she might have a point. That was a bit deliberate — it is a challenging, difficult thing to do week after week, and requires energy and creativity that may not always be easy to summon on deadline. Just ask any of the columnists.
We do have a couple of people who have expressed interest, and we hope to have Sally’s successor in place soon.
In the meantime, on behalf of myself and my predecessor editors at the Methow Valley News, I want to thank Sally for her contributions and devotion to her community. Because that’s what the job really is — a community service. I hope you will thank her also, the next time you see her.
A community grieves
The sudden loss of Ellis Fink last week has left many people in the valley stunned and saddened. Ellis was a Methow native who followed his dreams — which meant staying close to home, working for the U.S. Forest Service and creating an independent business, raising a family and being an active part of the community. There aren’t many lives that Ellis didn’t touch here in his 57 years with his friendliness and spirit of generosity.
We at the Methow Valley News feel an especially strong sense of grief because Ellis’ wife, Callie Marchbank Fink, was an advertising sales representative here for many years. Not only was Callie an outstanding sales person, she was also a lively, inspirational part of the newspaper “family.” We miss her energy and sense of humor, but have continued to benefit from her photographic contributions.
Through Callie, we got to know her family, notably the three sons that she and Ellis raised. Each has already made a distinct mark in our small community, a tribute to their parenting. Our heartfelt condolences, and those of the entire Methow Valley, go out to the Fink and Marchbank families.