It’s been a year of progress, but there’s lots more to come

What a year it’s been. 

Speaking locally, Lebanon continues to move steadily ahead, which is a good direction. 

Although there are still problems to be solved, such as the inhibitions to growth created by the wetlands issues and the need to complete the Westside Interceptor Wastewater Collection Line, a lot is happening. 

The development of the Airport-River Road connection has created new options for movement through the city, for instance. The new wastewater treatment plant may not be high on some readers’ awareness scale, but it’s going to be important to them, regardless. 

New businesses have opened downtown – eateries, retail, etc., with more on the way. 

A lot of this is because Lebanon decided to make it happen. All those planning meetings several years ago are paying off because communities without plans, plans that the population has bought into, don’t go anywhere fast. 

Lebanon residents can give themselves a well-deserved pat on the back. 

Of course, we’ve also been enjoying an economic boom – housing starts, a hot real estate market, companies expanding, a sizzling job market, which has helped. When things slow down, though, that 2040 Vision and Community Action Plan will still be there and the community needs to keep it on top of the pile on the desk. 

Here at Lebanon Local, we’ve entered our third year of publication. 

Hard to believe. 

The level of enthusiasm we’ve gotten from readers has been affirming. I’m not one to exaggerate.  We’ve received a lot of calls and letters from folks telling us they like what they see.

Our staff has enjoyed covering Lebanon, particularly the reporters who spend most of their time up the road at our weekly paper in Sweet Home. They enjoy the different vibe, the new faces, the stories that are waiting to be told. 

Many people have asked me (or our staffers) when we’re going to start publishing more frequently. The short answer is “not yet,” and the longer answer is “I don’t really know the answer to that question.” 

The fact is, although I knew this cerebrally before we launched this venture, it’s become even more evident to me in a practical sense as we’ve moved along: A newspaper is a very organic enterprise. Yes, it has an owner in the legal sense, but to survive it has to have more than that. It has to have ownership by a community of readers. 

We hear about newspapers circling the drain, but in communities where the readers have that ownership, it’s less of a problem. They may not always appreciate everything their newspaper tells them, but they consider it their paper. 

Lebanon used to have a strong sense of that ownership.  The question is whether it can again. 

The reality is that a newspaper is produced by staffers who pay the same bills everybody else does. Printing costs are rising and we’re told another postage hike is on the way. 

That’s why the ownership I mentioned earlier is vital. For this or any other newspaper to survive, community members have to value local news coverage, the scrutiny of public affairs news reporters provide, the hometown news and sports and human interest stories sufficiently to invest in it by subscribing or advertising. (The latter, in particular, is still the fuel that keeps the engine running.)

If that commitment keeps growing, the Lebanon Local will grow.

Meanwhile, a big thank you to businesses that have chosen to advertise in Lebanon Local and to the many people who have subscribed. 

They’re the reason you’re reading this. They’ve made a difference. 

Enjoy a Merry Christmas and have a very Happy New Year!