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FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK

From the editor's desk: Coming Thursday: Our new section, Mid-Valley Live

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Enchanted forest teaser

The iconic witch at the Enchanted Forest.

I’m excited to tell you about some changes we’re making for the Albany Democrat-Herald and Corvallis Gazette-Times.

Starting this week, we’re launching a new section in our Thursday editions called Mid-Valley Live. It will incorporate the local arts and entertainment coverage we’ve been providing for years in The E, but we’re expanding the section from two pages to four. We’re also expanding the scope of the section to embrace things like food and drink (including some of the food-related content that used to run in our Wednesday papers), travel, outdoor recreation, leisure activities and other pursuits that help make up our vibrant mid-valley lifestyle.

The inaugural edition of Mid-Valley Live features an in-depth look at the trials and tribulations of the Enchanted Forest, the family-owned theme park just up Interstate 5 that has suffered some major economic and personal blows over the past year, first from the COVID-19 pandemic, then the Labor Day wildfires that left two family members dead, and finally from an ice storm that toppled trees and damaged many of the park’s attractions. Regular contributor Jennifer Moody explores how the owners are working to get the theme park back on its feet — not only for themselves, but for the generations of mid-valley residents who have made the Enchanted Forest part of their own family traditions.

You’ll also find a capsule review of a new offering from Albany’s Calapooia Brewing and a report on one of the Corvallis area’s most popular hiking destinations. Both will have accompanying videos online, part of the enhanced digital content you can expect to see every week from Mid-Valley Live.

And a new regular feature called Spotlight will focus on a curated selection of the most intriguing local arts and entertainment events in the coming week, pulled from our complete online events listings.

In future weeks, Kevin Hampton, the editor of Mid-Valley Live, is planning a lively mix of news and feature articles, reviews, personal essays and other content from our staff writers and outside contributors. Feel free to contact Kevin with your feedback and story ideas. You can reach him by email at kevin.hampton@lee.net.

While I’m talking about our newspapers, I’d also like to call your attention to some of the good work our staff has been doing in recent weeks.

Troy Shinn, our newest reporter, has taken the lead on covering the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in our area. Based on page views on our websites, readers seem to appreciate Troy’s news-you-can-use coverage of stories such as walk-in vaccination opportunities in Linn and Benton counties and the ramp-up of rural vaccination efforts in the region. Sunday’s newspaper featured an investigative piece on the role that a local church and lax government oversight may have played in the death of an Albany woman from COVID.

Jim Day dug into the details of President Biden’s massive infrastructure proposal, taking a look at the condition of roads and bridges in our state and some of the local projects that could get funded if the bill passes. Caitlyn May took a deep dive into how local school board races have become extremely politicized in the mid-valley this year. Kyle Odegard photographed and wrote a story on a mobilization ceremony for a local National Guard unit on its way to Poland for a NATO deployment. And photo editor Mark Ylen, always alert for breaking news, rushed out to the scene of a multivehicle crash in Albany and discovered that it was caused by an alleged intoxicated driver on the run from police. In addition to taking photos at the scene, he assembled the basic facts, interviewed an eyewitness and filed a short story for the web, which was later fleshed out by an editor with additional information from law enforcement.

That’s just a sampling of the local coverage you get day in and day out from the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald — coverage you won’t find anywhere else. If you’re already a subscriber, thanks for your support of local journalism. If you’re not a subscriber yet, you’re in luck: We’re running a special. Through May 16, you can get a six-month digital subscription for just $1. We’ve made it easy to sign up online: just click on https://bit.ly/3ckpzHd for the Democrat-Herald or https://bit.ly/3t8RuRm for the Gazette-Times.

Bennett Hall is the editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald.

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