Publisher’s Letter: Meeting the Challenges of Our Times

By Blaine Howerton, Publisher
North Forty News

Four years ago, when I took over North Forty News, I could not have imagined that in 2020 we’d not only be providing updates on record-breaking wildfires in Colorado but public health advisories for a pandemic the likes of which most of us have never seen in our lifetimes.

Like so many of our readers, 2020 has been one of the hardest years of my career and in my personal life. I know many can relate. As I write this, with the pandemic escalating, I worry about my family’s safety in the coming months. Once again, in-person school has been suspended. Restaurant in-house service is being restricted. People are being asked to stay at home. Once again, toilet paper is being hoarded — whoever thought that empty shelves where the toilet paper usually is would be a sign of serious trouble.

Last week, I almost lost a young friend to Covid-19. He was diagnosed on a Wednesday, hospitalized by Saturday, and then on a ventilator; he was almost dead Saturday night. Thankfully, he is recovering, and we’ve talked about his experience. I’m reminded of how fragile life is.

Next, I got word that a second cousin in Texas died from Covid-19. She struggled for well over a month, but her body gave up the fight.

As I write this, my 11-year-old son is experiencing symptoms. The doctor did an exam in the parking lot of the healthcare facility. A strep test came back negative, so he sent us to the hospital for a Covid test. After sitting in a Covid test line for two and a half hours today, hundreds of people deep, we now have to wait 48 hours for results. My son is understandably worried, and this afternoon I heard him and his younger brother (who adores him) arguing because the youngest wanted to hug him. In comparison, his older brother wanted his little brother to keep his distance.

I have friends who have had Covid and since recovered. They try to encourage me that things will be okay — and I want to believe them.

But in the midst of all of this, I am still committed to the promise I made four years ago: to keep this newspaper running, expanding it, and improving it while getting the news out online as fast as possible and in print every week. It is hugely gratifying to help deliver our newspapers where I meet people who enjoy reading us and who benefit from the hard work my team puts into every single weekly edition. Driving hundreds of miles through rural areas and burned forests, I see firsthand the communities that have been affected by Colorado’s largest wildfires to date. And I can’t help but think of the thousands of people who’ve been adversely affected over these last eight months. Some have been lucky while others have lost everything.

While I have a great team who helps me get it done, I wish I could deliver every single copy of our newspaper.

Before the pandemic, my staff and I have been working hard to build a sustainable venue to continue to provide Northern Colorado residents with hyperlocal news rarely covered in the big, distantly owned daily — news that matters — news about “here” where we live. And with Covid-19, we are working even harder to keep you informed at this very volatile time. We are proud of the work we’re doing, and we hear from you, our readers, that you appreciate our efforts on your behalf.

Every reader, every subscriber, every advertiser who supports North Forty News weekly is an essential part of what we do — we wouldn’t be here without you. And as we continue to work hard to meet the challenges of our time, we lean on our community to help us, as we are doing our part in supporting our community. 

At a dark time like this, I am not remiss in asking: Please pray for us. We are praying for you.

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