Hed Lines: Enjoying the cool air in Williams

Newsroom employees have interesting backgrounds.

At my previous newspaper, I worked with a colleague who did not have formal journalistic training.

However, she provided a wealth of knowledge about the community.

She raised her five children there, served on the school board and wrote a book on the history of a local high school.

As an editorial assistant at the weekly newspaper, Jeanie Corral answered the phones, typed wedding announcements and other items, wrote a folksy column and greeted the public.

Like others, she provided some levity, a proven stress reducer.

The small newsroom got a laugh from my reportage of a comment made at a town hall meeting on the future of a nearby unincorporated community that had a vocal anti-government base.

A recent arrival to Wildomar, Calif., from Orange County said she wanted city amenities such as street sweeping.

One man in the audience blurted out, "Get a broom!"

I once told Corral, "Jeanie, get a broom."

She responded, "Kenny, I already have a broom.

You get a broom."

She embraced her allies but made a "God is going to get you" glare at those whom she regarded as being less than civic-minded.

A devout Catholic, she compiled passages from Scripture to refute a local political activist who thought God was on his side.

She also subscribed to a weekly newspaper located more than 400 miles away from Lake Elsinore in an Arizona mountain hamlet, and brought issues of the paper to the office.

She said the Arizona paper was reporting on the same kind of problems encountered in her hometown, adding she was thinking about moving to the community.

Faithful readers, that newspaper was the Williams-Grand Canyon News, and that is where I am spending this week.

I learned about the assignment last week from my superior, editor Sean McMahon.

On occasion, reporters at the Miner and other newspapers owned by Western Newspapers Inc.

of Yuma get assigned for a few days to a few weeks at a time to work at sister newspapers.

The assignments generally take place because of a transition elsewhere.

The Williams paper needed an extra body because an editor based at the one-person edition serving Grand Canyon National Park was taking a two-week vacation, and a colleague was filling in for his job.

The Williams reporter gave notice because she is moving back to Maine.

A new editor arrived a few weeks ago.

For that matter, I am getting away from the daily grind for a week, returning to the slower pace of a weekly and taking in cooler temperatures (high 80s) in this forested community 6,500 above sea level.

Weekly papers offer opportunities for the inexperienced to learn the business and make mistakes that do not often threaten careers.

It makes their job easier if they work in a town that is compact, with government offices located within a walk or a short drive.

Williams fits that bill.

However, that does not mean working for a weekly is a no-brainer.

I found out Monday morning, when the Williams reporter asked me to compile the police log from the Grand Canyon.

The fax from the National Park Service resembles a classified section of a newspaper in appearance but not in content.

I asked my temporary co-workers to find out what abbreviations such as ALS (advanced life support) meant.

The Grand Canyon edition reports a variety of incidents that most daily newspapers ignore.

They include alarm activations, fires in trash containers, traffic stops and barking dogs.

Some items are colorful.

Rangers responding to a complaint about improper food storage in the Bright Angel Campground encountered a man who reportedly became hostile, made threats and exposed himself.

They booked him into the Coconino County Jail.

After compiling several pages of the log, I went out to lunch and checked into a country inn.

I recognized a real estate agent sitting at an adjoining table with another woman at a cafe.

She and her colleague were en route to a meeting in Flagstaff.

Her colleague indicated that she did not look forward to spending hours attending a seminar in a cold building.

I will try to enjoy my temporary cool respite.

The heat may be on when I return to Kingman next week.

Ken Hedler is the county government and political reporter for the Miner.