W elcome to 2018. It’s a new year, and with that new year comes some staff changes at The Observer. You may have read Andrew Cutler’s last editorial. He has stepped down as editor of the newspaper, and I’m stepping into the role.

It seems strange to me to introduce myself to readers. I’ve been a reporter and photographer at The Observer for more than three years, and hopefully you’re at least familiar with my name. I have worked with many of you over the years, but for those who don’t know me, I’ll take this space to tell you a bit about myself.

My name is Cherise Kaechele (pronounced Sure-eese Kek-lee for anyone who has ever wondered or gotten it wrong, which many do). I grew up in Spokane, but moved to Ontario with my family in high school. I attended the University of Oregon and received a bachelor of arts in journalism.

I knew I was going to be a reporter in the sixth grade. I had the opportunity to write an article for the school’s newsletter and I still remember the moment I saw my byline in print. The impact of the pen’s power, even at 12 years old, was enough to push me through high school, where I was the editor of the school newspaper, and into college, where I put my money where my mouth was. I never deterred from journalism as a profession. I always knew this is what I wanted to do and had an excellent support system to encourage me when I needed it.

After graduating from college, I was hired as a reporter at the Independent-Enterprise, a weekly newspaper in Payette County, Idaho. It is the sister paper of the Argus Observer in Ontario. I worked there for three years and was the only reporter in the office. The benefit to that was I covered everything. The oil and gas industry had made its way to Payette County, and that was probably my biggest beat. I got to learn about mineral rights, natural resources, fracking and how a well was drilled. It was fascinating, and I learned a lot. When I started to look for what else was out there, The La Grande Observer was hiring.

Since then, I’ve grown substantially as a reporter. I’ve met countless challenges, and it has made me a better journalist. I’ve had the privilege of working with the people in the newsroom and, together, we’ve dedicated ourselves to putting out a solid newspaper.

I love what I do. I obviously wouldn’t have taken this new role if I didn’t believe in the importance and strength of this industry. The Observer may not be The New York Times (or whatever big-name newspaper you’re drawn to), but at the moment it’s mine. You, as a reader, deserve to have a news source that is looking out for the community. My responsibility as a journalist is to provide the facts to you to the best of my ability. That’s the beginning and end of my role. I will not tell you how, or what, to think.

Going with that mindset, my intention is not to write personal editorials. However, the newsroom will write a ‘Call to Action’ of sorts. We will discuss as a group some relevant topic in the area that we have covered and tell you why you should care about this. We will not tell you our opinions, but instead focus on why this is important and why we believe you should pay attention.

I’m also eager to announce a new publication that will highlight the vibrant “best kept secrets” of local living.

North by Northeast, or NXNE as it will appear in print, is designed entirely for the people who live in Northeast Oregon. The stories will look at burgeoning trends in Baker, Union and Wallowa counties, as told through the community members who participate in those trends.

In addition to learning about your neighbors’ unique lifestyles, you will find recipes for foods that everyone in Northeast Oregon has access to, whether it’s your favorite meal from the diner on the corner or a special way to prepare the morel mushrooms you’ve hunted.

Other components include day or weekend trip suggestions that are fun for all ages and do-it-yourself projects with advice from professionals.

I come from a photography background, so I am especially pleased with NXNE’s emphasis on visuals. This magazine promises to be image-driven, much like any magazine you’d see in a waiting room. Even the advertisements are expected to be photographic, a departure from the text-heavy, newspaper-style ads you may be familiar with.

NXNE has been in the works for months with Special Sections Editor Emily Adair at the helm. Its inception has been a collaborative effory by Western Communications employees — past and present — to make it the best possible product for you, the reader. I believe you should be as excited about NXNE as we are, and I hope you fall in love with it the moment you have it in your hands.

The glossy magazine will be inserted in The Observer and the Baker City Herald on a quarterly basis. The first edition is scheduled to come out March 5.

I am excited for this new year. I think it has a lot of possibilities. I’m proud of the newsroom and can’t wait to see what we write for you. In addition to my new editor’s responsibilities, I plan to continue writing stories. My love of reporting will keep me out in the field as much as possible. With that, I’ll see you around the county, I’m sure.

Happy New Year.