On the Hot Seat: Getting acquainted with Colville

Roger Harnack

My first week as publisher here in Stevens County was quite an adventure.
There was the passing of the baton from publisher Jesse Mullen to me. Then there were a lot of new people to meet and a lot of exploring to do. But more importantly, there was a lot of learning to do about the Statesman-Examiner, its advertisers and readers. And while I’m a veteran publisher with deep roots in Eastern Washington, I have a lot to learn about life, news and advertising in Northeast Washington.
I’m here to improve your newspaper. But I’m going to need your help to do it.
As I settle in, I’ll need your guidance on the things you want to see in your newspaper. I’ll need your advice on news that we should be covering and the background behind it. Please call me when you see news happening so I can get a reporter there.
On the business side, I need to get a better understanding of your advertising goals. What products and services do you offer? How can I assist you with your digital, print, geo-targeting and other advertising needs? In short, I need to learn about your business and how I can help you grow.
Some of you may have preconceived ideas about me. But before you pass judgment, I trust you will take a few minutes to stop in and meet me for yourself. Area resident Ian Pickett did that just last week, as did a couple others. My door is always open, and I welcome viewpoints that may not agree with me. After all, we are in this together.
You may not realize it, but the Statesman-Examiner is among the largest, most-read newspapers in Eastern Washington. Most newspapers on our side of the Cascades have less than 2,500 readers. Only about a dozen break that mark – the Statesman-Examiner is one of them. We have more readers than newspapers in many bigger cities – like Toppenish and Sunnyside (where I’ve been living the past three years).
While I’ve been living in the Yakima Valley in recent years, I consider this area home. I lived in Tunk Valley – a small rural valley midway between Wauconda and Omak – for more than seven years of the last decade. And it feels good to be back in the area … now, just to find a permanent place to live.
I’m an ardent defender of rural Eastern Washington. And I’ve argued and testified in Olympia about issues important to us – water, forest access, wildfires, timber harvest, our dams, wolves, grizzly bears, agriculture, transparent government and more. Like many of you, I spend my free time enjoying the mountains, forests and on the water.
Stevens County – indeed all of Northeast Washington – has a lot to offer.
In my first week, I found a couple of great places that I’ve already shared on social media. I had pizza and a local draft at Northern Ales and a fresh, hot pretzel at the Pour House. The Eagles Aerie #2797 offers some good burgers and Tazi’s offers a great coffee first thing in the morning. (Yes, I am an Eagles member.) And I can’t forget about the breakfast or steaks offered at the Acorn Saloon. I’m looking forward to dining at many, many more places around the area.
There are many others I met for the first time last week. And I’m sorry I can’t remember everyone’s name. But Scott Thompson and Cheryl Lipp have been a great help, as have Chip and Bunny Carr, the new owners of North Lake RV Park and Campground. And I can’t forget to mention the entire staff at the Statesman-Examiner for making me feel at home.
Since I lived a lot of years just a short drive to the west, there are a few businesses I have always visited when I’ve been in the Colville area. And in my first week, I had to stop in and check them out. There’s Clark’s All Sports, a mainstay for me for more than a decade when it comes to shooting, camping and fishing supplies. Then there’s South Main Restaurant and Rancho Chico, eateries I’ve have been known to frequent. And I’m glad to see Colville Motor Sports still carrying Yamaha – I race a Yamaha SuperJet on the Pacific Northwest Watercross Tour.
As I settle in, the Statesman-Examiner will see changes, as all businesses do with new managers. Please, don’t let that discourage you from helping make the newspaper stronger. After all, a strong local newspaper usually reflects a strong local community. And while I’m the publisher, the Statesman-Examiner remains your newspaper.
I look forward to meeting many of you in the coming months and years. And I look forward to improving news coverage in the region.

— Roger Harnack is the new award-winning publisher at the Statesman-Examiner and Deer Park Tribune. Email him at publisher@statesmanexaminer.com.