Autumn is a daily reminder of the transitory nature of our world. Like the changing of the colors of the leaves, which then fall to the ground to make way for the new, the Huckleberry Press is transitioning, too. Val Mohney, Huckleberry Press publisher since 2015, is handing over the reins to Gabriel Cruden, who also publishes the North Columbia Monthly.
If you appreciate how the Huckleberry Press has brought readers stories about our eastern Washington and north Idaho communities, never fear. Gabriel’s vision for the Huckleberry Press is very much aligned with the types of stories shared under Val’s leadership. Gabriel plans to highlight community members, local businesses, events, and difference makers – those who are making a positive impact in their communities. He also assures me that, “The Chuckleberries isn’t going away!” My auntie LaVonna, up in Colville, will be pleased to know this. Back when the Huckleberry Press was mostly ads, she confessed she was a dedicated reader, just because of the Chuckleberries.
The Huckleberry Press, published every other week, underwent tremendous change when Val took the helm in 2015. He brought his passion for community to build the paper from pages of mostly ads, to content of local interest. Under Val’s leadership, readers learned about everything from the smallest business owners to the biggest movers and shakers of the region.
Val and his contributors worked to mine stories about difference makers, from Spokane to the smallest rural communities across eastern Washington and northern Idaho. We learned about people dedicating their time to serve the people of their community. And those who serve the animals. We learned about unique, small businesses and events that bring joy and meaning to their community.
Recently, Val expanded the Huckleberry Press from “…just a newspaper, to a multimedia company, which the newspaper is a part of.” This evolution included an updated website, making Huckleberry Press content more accessible.
As such, Val has set the stage for Gabriel to achieve a similar mission for the Huckleberry Press, which is to, “Celebrate and connect people with their communities.” Gabriel recognizes that the rural communities are the heart and soul of our region, and he intends to bring special attention to stories of these communities throughout the paper’s 12-county distribution range. Readers can look forward to profiles on folks who are making major contributions to their communities, as individuals, with new or expanding businesses, and through special, community events.
Gabriel also plans to include general-interest stories about health and fitness, the great outdoors, restaurant and movie reviews, community meetings and trainings, and an advice column geared towards supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs.
No stranger to the publishing world, Gabriel, who lives by Kettle Falls, WA, took over the North Columbia Monthly in 2015 and rebranded the magazine to be dedicated to “building community and finding common ground through sharing stories about where and how we live.” Distributed from Spokane to Canada and across Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, the magazine has grown over the years and accrued a dedicated and wide-ranging readership.
Gabriel notes that, “While the North Columbia Monthly is comprised of articles of people sharing their stories, experiences and observations about life in our region, the Huckleberry Press is an opportunity to highlight stories about the people in our region that are making a difference in our communities.”
Gabriel added that he is looking forward to working with Val, who will continue to participate in the daily operations and production of the Huckleberry Press, in print and online, and for what their team effort will produce.
“It can be a sometimes lonely and daunting task to wear all the hats that are required to put out a publication like this, and to also run the business to support it,” Gabriel said. “It will be good to take this on with more of a team approach and to see what we can accomplish together.”
Amy McGarry, a Spokane Valley native, has been a regular Huckleberry Press contributor since 2018 and is the author of two memoirs: I am Farang: Adventures of a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand, and Culture Clash: My Marriage to a Moroccan Muslim.