When former preschool owner Colleen Strohm and her husband moved to Maupin after their retirement, they found a vibrant community, but no local newspaper.
“There used to be a newspaper here, a monthly … It was called the WamPinRock,” she said.
Strohm says it closed right around the time they moved to town. And even though people seemed to miss it, she couldn’t talk anyone into starting another paper. Finally, she realized if she wanted the community to have one again, she and her husband would need to start it themselves.
“When we met with the editor of the WamPinRock, he was very helpful and very encouraging. But he gave us some advice that we didn’t follow. He said, ‘Don’t do any news. You’ll step on people’s toes. People will be upset. Don’t do news.’”
Covering the news of the community was exactly what Stohm and her husband Doug Lowell, a retired advertising professor at Portland State University, wanted to do. They launched The South Wasco Times, a monthly print paper, in October.
“We want (to do) the things that are important to people here, not just the grange meetings and who brings the rhubarb pie. We wanna cover the school board and what happened to the big money that everybody contributed. Two or three years ago there was a bond issue. And so what happened to that? Did we do everything that we were planning to do with the bond? Why are there three gyms in such a small school?”
Strohm is the publisher, editor and writes a lot of the articles. Lowell also writes, takes the photographs and manages advertising sales and distribution. He says the experience has been incredibly meaningful.
“You know, the whole idea here is that community is the core of our existence. I’ve never felt the importance of community the way I have since we’ve moved to a small town,” he said. “Community is one of the reasons we started the paper because we believe that disunity within the community comes from not having a common source of news. We also believe that when people know each other, familiarity breeds compassion.”
The December issue is out now, and you can only get it at regional outlets or via subscription. Strohm has no plans to change that — part of the appeal is that the paper is printed … on paper.