The end of one year and the start of another provides an opportunity for reflections and setting goals for the new year.

On the reflective aspect of turning the calendar page, 2016 proved a difficult year for the Hermiston Herald family. Many members of our staff suffered losses in the year just ended.

Most notably, we were forced to say goodbye to G.M. “Jerry” Reed, the former owner/publisher of the Herald and father to current Hermiston office manager Shannon Paxton.

I used to think in order to be a good journalist I would have to learn to be dispassionate, unemotional or at the very least, hide and control those emotions. I never learned the Vulcan trait to control emotions so completely and effectively. I no longer want to, either. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of journalists in a 28-plus year career, many of them highly intelligent, professional, talented journalists who were also thoughtful, compassionate people.

Yes, we have had to deal with the permanent loss that death brings, but we’ve also lost some staff members that have moved on to other opportunities. We miss their presence, their humor and their friendship.

Change can be hard. But sometimes it brings new colleagues into our family, like our newest colleague, Jayati Ramakrishnan, who joined our team in December. We look forward to working with her and getting to know her better in 2017.

I’m not prone to making predictions. I prefer fact-based reporting. But some trends for 2017 can safely be foreseen. Hermiston, and the surrounding area, will continue to grow. There will be new businesses, new opportunities. Some will succeed. Others may not, but the area and it’s people will adapt.

Growth is in our community’s DNA. And here, at the Herald, we are looking for ways to adapt, and hopefully grow, too.

In the coming weeks we will be adding some new features or expanding some existing ones.

For example, we will start adding some staff picks to our coming event calendar, to feature some events we think are worth some extra attention and notoriety.

We will also start including an upcoming meeting calendar to let area residents know when local agencies will be meeting to provide more opportunities for civic involvement.

We are also looking for local people willing to write regularly about topics we may not get to often enough with our staff coverage. For example, if you have an interest in youth or recreational sports, we’d love to feature coverage of youth soccer, Little League, local softball leagues, bowling leagues, etc. Or maybe your interests and expertise lies in enjoying our great outdoors, with activities like fishing, hunting, cycling, etc., we could ad a regular column about that if we had someone willing to share some of their time and expertise. Just tell us what we are missing and how you can help us fill that need. Ideally, we’d like to get at least four regular contributors, and rotate the contribution on about a once a month basis. We’ll love contributions of various ages and interests.

I, too, plan to contribute regular weekly columns, but instead of my past practice of sharing with readers what’s going on inside the Herald, we will look outside in the wider community and sharing more information about what people are saying and doing that made our community special.

We also plan to start a regular Q and A feature, giving us all a better chance to know one of our neighbors each week.

Those are some of our ideas for new features coming in 2017. We’d love to hear your suggestions for ways to make the Herald a trusted and valued news source. If you have ideas for who we should reach out to as possible contributors for columns you’d find interesting, or suggestions for who would make a good Q&A subject, or have other ideas, write to me at or call me at 541-564-4532.

We need you, and your neighbors, as readers, subscribers and advertisers in 2017. In exchange we will prove you a trustworthy, reliable source of information about upcoming events and recent happening that will affect you, your family and your work life. We are firm believers that information is key to making rewarding life and lifestyle decision on how to spend your time and money.

We lost some of our closest supporters of the paper in 2016, we would love to welcome some new ones into the fold in 2017.

Gary L. West is editor of the Hermiston Herald and Hermiston editor for the East Oregonian. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter @GaryLWest or on Facebook at

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