In difficult times, community matters

Supporting each other helps us all do our best.


“On the Road to 50” is an ongoing series of the publisher and editor's notes to our readers, as they travel the region and plan for our 50th anniversary – through community gatherings, individual meetings, and other listening sessions.

As the COVID-19 pandemic blazes through cities and sends red-hot embers drifting into the rural West, I think of the people working on the frontlines — people, and work, that I know well.

I spent nine years, from 1998 to 2007, moonlighting as an emergency medical technician in Paonia, Colorado, HCN’s hometown. The North Fork Ambulance was the first line of defense for the roughly 10,000 residents of three small towns and the surrounding farmland and mesas. We hauled people out of car wrecks and collapsed mines, handled drug overdoses and emergency childbirths, and rushed people to the nearest hospital whenever their serious ailments or age necessitated specialized care.

As I write, there have been six confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Delta County — with one death — but if those sparks of virus ignite a conflagration, it will hit this community hard, and the North Fork Ambulance squad will be called into service. 

On Associate Editor Tristan Ahtone’s last day of work, HCN staffers get together digitally to wish him a fond farewell. Ahtone is shown top row, second from left.

For our part, the High Country News staff — in the North Fork Valley and across the Western U.S. — has dispersed to our homes, most of us under “stay at home” orders. Associate Editor Paige Blankenbuehler is heading a team that publishes regular stories on our website, where all of our COVID-19 coverage is available for free.

To allow staff to focus on this critical work at a difficult time, and to ensure that every issue contains the best journalism possible, we are shifting to a straight monthly publication schedule, canceling the three special issues we’d planned for later this year. Apologies in advance for any confusion this creates. If you subscribed (or renewed) hoping for those “bonus” issues, we will extend your subscription to include additional monthly issues of the magazine. 

Through your subscriptions and donations, High Country News readers provide three-quarters of the revenue that keeps this organization going.

We have also delayed the public rollout of our 50th anniversary fundraising campaign and postponed our anniversary gala to June 4, 2021. We want to give this magazine and its readers the celebration we all deserve. Watch for more information in the coming months.

But we still need your support — now more than ever. Through your subscriptions and donations, High Country News readers provide three-quarters of the revenue that keeps this organization going.

We hope you’ll consider contributing to our spring fund drive. There should be a donation envelope inside this issue; a letter with more information will arrive in your mailbox soon. If finances are tight — as no doubt they are for many of you — please consider giving in smaller, monthly installments, or making a legacy bequest. For more information, visit or email [email protected].

Thank you, as always, for your support. We will do our best in the months ahead to provide the clear, accurate and essential information you rely on. We need the community’s help to do it.

Greg Hanscom is the publisher and executive director of High Country News. Email him at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor

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