A new chapter for HCN

The organization is putting its building up for sale but will remain in Paonia.

 

The High Country News board of directors met in Seattle in September to approve our annual budget and kick off a strategic planning process that will result in a road map for the organization for the next three years. It was only the second time we’ve been able to meet in person since COVID hit, and it was wonderful to see each other face-to-face again.

Perhaps the biggest news to come out of the meeting was the decision to sell HCN’s office building in Paonia, Colorado. It’s an idea that has been percolating for several years now, and we didn’t make the decision lightly. But we’re excited about what this represents: a new chapter for HCN, in which we’ll grow and spread our roots across the West.

Diane Sylvain/High Country News

Paonia is still HCN’s home base, as it has been since 1983, the year Ed and Betsy Marston took the helm and moved what was then a 16-page newspaper to Colorado from its birthplace in Lander, Wyoming. We simply don’t need as much space as we did when we had our entire staff and all our equipment under one roof. We still have 12 full- or part-time employees who live in the North Fork Valley, though only a handful still use the office. Most moved to home offices when COVID arrived and are happy working there. The rest of our 30-odd employees are now scattered from Tucson, Arizona, to Moscow, Idaho, and from Seattle to Santa Fe. Tools like Zoom and Slack allow us to stay in touch while enabling staffers to put their boots on the ground in the many communities we cover. 

Moving forward, we plan to rent a small office in Paonia for our customer service team and provide a few shared desks for others who need a temporary place to work. It won’t be the same as our old sun-filled offices at the end of Grand Avenue, but we’ll still be around, and we’ll be happy to visit with any readers who pass through the area. 

Greg Hanscom, executive director and publisher

 

Salutes to departing board members

Two members of HCN’s board stepped down this fall, and will be dearly missed.

Laura Helmuth has been a role model for many of HCN’s editors and writers. She joined our board in 2014, when she was an editor at Slate, and served in top positions at National Geographic and the Washington Post before landing in her current post as editor-in-chief at Scientific American. (In 2020, SciAm made its first-ever endorsement of a presidential candidate, Joe Biden. Laura says the handful of folks who canceled subscriptions in response were far outnumbered by the wave of new folks drawn to the magazine for having such guts.) Laura was a quiet leader on the board, ever supportive of staff and committed to our work on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. When she spoke, people listened.

Departing board member Seth Cothrun has had many productive professional detours, including fighting wildland fires and serving five years at the Tucson-based Sonoran Institute. He now works for a multitrillion-dollar international financial management firm. Seth was instrumental in instituting best practices for financial planning and management at HCN, and he committed many hours of his time to training sessions with senior staff. We’re forever grateful to him for helping us make this a more professional, and sustainable, organization, and for encouraging us to build reserves that will safeguard HCN during turbulent times.

We welcome reader letters. Email High Country News at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor. See our letters to the editor policy.

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