May news

Celebrants gathered in Concrete's town center today to celebrate the community's 100th year. (To request a high-res version of this photo, send an e-mail to

Celebrants gathered in Concrete's town center today to celebrate the community's 100th year. (To request a high-res version of this photo, send an e-mail to [email protected])

Concrete turns 100
By Charles M. Dwelley and Jason Miller
posted 5.9.09

This story starts with a waterfall, a missing leg, and a fierce rivalry.

In 1888, the location that would become Concrete was designated “Minnehaha” (Sioux for “waterfall”) by a gold-seeking settler named Richard Challenger.

When Challenger sold the land to Magnus Miller in 1890, Miller changed the name to “Baker” because of the river that lined his property on the east and flowed into the Skagit at that point…

[Stay tuned for the full article when the Concrete Herald Web site relaunches soon!]


Lyman School Carnival, “Ol’ County Fair”:  May 16, 1 to 4 p.m., Lyman Elementary School; more info at 360.826.5811

Timberline Park Open House: May 31, 1 to 4 p.m.; more info at or 360.826.3131.

Western Washington Family Forest Owners Field Day:  July 31 (afternoon) and Aug. 1 (all day), Lusk Road, Birdsview; more info at 360.856.3491 or click here.

An open letter to all eastern Skagit County citizens
From Jason Miller, Concrete Herald publisher and editor
posted 3.24.09

The “voice of eastern Skagit County” is poised to return May 6, after an 18-year hiatus. I’m excited to serve as the new Concrete Herald publisher and editor, and understand that I have very big shoes to fill.

I’ve been getting lots of questions from the citizens of eastern Skagit County, so I thought it would be a good idea to provide answers in the form of a letter to you all. If I don’t address in this letter something you want to know, and if you have Internet access, go to and click on the FAQs link. If you still need answers, feel free to call or e-mail me at 360.853.8213 or [email protected]

Okay, let’s get down to it.

General update. The fundraising effort for start-up capital has met with some success, with donations coming in from all over Skagit County and western Washington, as well as elsewhere in the U.S. On March 3, I met with Philip Johnson and bought Upriver Community News (UCN). After this April issue, UCN will discontinue publication.

Publication start date. The new Concrete Herald will distribute its first print issue and launch its expanded Web site on May 6, 2009.

Content. The Herald will cover every community between Sedro-Woolley and Winthrop. While it will be based in Concrete, its focus will be on these smaller, rural communities in eastern Skagit County. If something happens in this area that you think is newsworthy, I want to know about it so I can spread the word.

This approach to journalism has been called “hyperlocal”; i.e., it is focused like a laser on what you want to read about. In order to be successful, though, I need to be kept aware of what’s going on in your community. A phone call or an e-mail is all I need.

Content, then, will be generated by volunteer writers, photographers, columnists, and tipsters, and credited appropriately in every issue of the Herald. If you can string a sentence together or take a decent, high-resolution photo with a digital camera, I want to put you on my list of content providers. I’ll take care of the rest. If you want to be a regular contributor to the Herald, reporting on what’s going on in your neck of the woods, please let me know!

Look for me to pay homage to the former Concrete Herald by recreating its nameplate and reviving columns you may remember, including “This and that,” “Way back when,” “In the service,” “Sunday School Lesson,” and “Overheard on Main Street,” to name a few. Dedicated pages for individual communities also will be a staple, as will sports pages, an advice column, opinions pages, an organic gardening column, and two-page spreads dedicated to our east-county students and seniors. Look for classifieds, “Celebrations” (weddings, anniversaries, births, etc.), and an obituaries section to honor those who have bid us farewell.

Publication frequency. The Concrete Herald will be distributed monthly, on the first Wednesday of each month. After its first year, I will analyze its numbers and consider the feasibility of publishing on a more frequent basis. I will perform this analysis yearly.

Appearance. Industry-standard trends and financial realities will change the new Herald’s appearance a little. Look for a tabloid format measuring about 11 x 11 inches, which is a little like reading an oversized newspaper insert or a graphic novel like the Tintin series—or an oversized magazine. Page count will probably fluctuate between 20 and 24 pages.

Subscriptions. The paper will be available for 50 cents per copy at newsstands and selected businesses along State Route 20 (distribution points will be published in every issue). There will be three choices for those who want to subscribe:

  1. A subscription to the print version, delivered via U.S. Mail: $24 per year for 12 monthly issues
  2. A subscription to the Web site: $12 per year (paid Web subscriptions will begin May 2010; the Web site will be free during its first year, so as not to short-change those businesses who donated $250 or more and received a free Web ad for one year)
  3. A combo subscription to the print version and Web site: $30 per year

Subscriptions may be purchased by sending a check for the appropriate amount, payable to Concrete Herald, to Concrete Herald, P.O. Box 682, Concrete, WA 98237.

Distribution. The paper will be distributed at newsstands and selected businesses along State Route 20; these business names will be published in every issue of the Herald. If you’d like to increase your store’s walk-in customer numbers by offering the Herald for sale, please contact me at 360.853.8213 or [email protected]

Location. The paper will be managed from my home office. Unfortunately, I simply haven’t the money to buy a storefront in downtown Concrete, which is what I’d prefer to do. Therefore, if you ever need to speak with me in person, or just want to drop off a photo or other item(s), please feel free to drop by my house at 7674 Cedar Park, in Concrete. You also may call me at 360.853.8213, e-mail me at [email protected], or snail-mail me at P.O. Box 682, Concrete, WA 98237.

Web site. The Herald’s online presence at will offer a carbon copy of the print version content, and will be updated daily. Each month’s major upload to the site will occur the day before the print version hits the newsstands. The Web site will include an archive with PDF files of each issue, but will be much more than a repository for back issues. For example, when any kind of inclement weather or emergency situation hits, look to the Concrete Herald Web site for details about what’s going on and how you can respond.

Targeted advertising. The Concrete Herald is dedicated to the businesses of eastern Skagit County, and will work hard to publicize them. Any business will be allowed to advertise in the Heraldas long as it doesn’t compete directly with an advertising eastern Skagit County business. My advertising policy favors businesses located in eastern Skagit County and points farther east, a region bounded by and including Sedro-Woolley and Diablo. I also will seek advertisers in the Winthrop business community, since tourists stopping in Concrete and other communities on their way east would likely appreciate a heads-up on what awaits them at their destination. Therefore, the advertising policy will be thus:

  1. Businesses in eastern Skagit County will be given “dibs” on advertising space in the print and online versions of the Concrete Herald. I will call on these businesses in person when possible, beginning the week of March 30.
  2. If any eastern Skagit County businesses decline my offer to advertise in the Concrete Herald, I may pursue ad contracts with competing businesses in Burlington and/or Mount Vernon (this is a newspaper, after all).
  3. If an eastern Skagit County business owner first declines my offer to advertise, then changes his/her mind after I’ve run an ad for a competing business in Burlington and/or Mount Vernon, the following will happen: A) If the competing business has not signed an advertising agreement with me, their ad(s) will be dropped in favor of the eastern Skagit County business, regardless of the ad size for either business; B) If the competing business has signed an advertising agreement with me, that agreement will be allowed to run its course and will not be renewed, and the eastern Skagit County business’ ad will be published in the next issue of the Herald.

As you know, the effort to bring back the Concrete Herald is “outside the box” in many ways. One of these is the initiative to create startup capital by holding a fundraiser, which began in early February. At press time, I’ve raised a little over $6,000, on my way to $10,000. I’ve already taken out a loan to get the computer equipment necessary to pull this off, so I encourage you to consider making a donation in any amount, which will help me pay down that loan and begin serving our communities without the burden of debt on the effort.

Contributions to the fundraiser can be made by going to and clicking on “How to donate,” or by sending cash or a check payable to “Concrete Herald” to:

Concrete Herald
P.O. Box 682
Concrete, WA 98237

Donors can choose from a variety of “perks” associated with contributing at different levels. A one-year subscription comes with a $50 donation. A $75 donation gets a rafting trip on the Skagit River. A $50 (individual) or $100 (business) donation gets a subscription to the Skagit River Journal, an online history magazine. For businesses, a $250 donation gets an ad on the Concrete Herald Web site for one year. If you have questions, you can write to me at the P.O. Box address above, or call or e-mail me at 360.853.8213 or [email protected]

The Concrete Herald belongs to all of us; I’m just the caretaker. Please consider what you can do to help make the paper a success, and join me in bringing back the voice of eastern Skagit County.

I hope I haven’t bored you to tears. Thanks for reading!

Jason Miller, publisher and editor
Concrete Herald

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