Watts News
 Published for the members of North Itasca Electric Cooperative
VOL. 20 NO. 10  -  October 2017

Telling the Stories of Bear Country


The paper does report news, she explained, but the main stories are human interest, arts, home-based businesses and history – stories that encourage people, she explained, and lifts them up.

"I want people to pick up the paper, read it and feel there are good people out there and still hope in the world,” she said.”The horrible news and the negative is as easy as turning on the TV. I feel people are oversaturated with the negative issues.”

She also has a soft spot for home-based businesses, she explained – that don’t have a big sign on Main Street. In fact, one of her sections – Minnesota Storefront – is a sponsor for the Women’s Expo in October showcasing crafts and company products which sell through local representatives.

Her most requested story has been the life journey of Shayne Stillar of Waskish, a 51 year old who won his age group this year in the Minnesota Senior Games in 10k cycling and came in third in 5k cycling. His story of overcoming major disabilities was truly inspirational, Rena said.

Rena has been writing stories since she was a child. Taking journalism classes at Northome High School, she wrote articles for the original Northome Record and has several books in progress including a completed screen play about Chief Busticogan.entitled “Awasonaago - The Day Before Yesterday.” That playscript placed in the second round qualifiers in drama among over 1,300 submitted screenplays in 2008 at the Film Writers International Screenwriting Awards. She hopes to turn it into a book when she finds the time.

Where does she find stories? Just open your eyes, she said…and look around! Recently she interviewed the heads of three major organizaions who are the producers of the Jesus Film Project, a movie seen all over the world, when they stopped in the Shining Light Café for a meal. She snagged interviews with the Sea to Sea bicycling mission when they came through on their ride to end poverty.

Both were results from leads she received from firends who work in town. “You have to be willing to drop what you are doing, grab your camera and set out into an unknown sitution and start asking a lot of questions,” she said.

It's rewarding and exciting to be able to do that,” she added, “but there is no need to wait until something huge happens in our community. The people who live here in the area have very interesing and important stories to tell that are just as exciting as the national ones.”

And it's also challenging. To meet deadlines, she might be up at 4 a.m. finishing an article or producing ads. She needs to fit in interviews, writing and putting the paper together around work, event and family schedules. With 18 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, that’s not always easy to do.

But “easy” doesn’t seem to be in Rena’s vocabulary. She is thinking now about plans for the future: expanding the paper into communities that don’t have a traditional newspaper and becoming a legal paper for publishing announcements.

The newspaper may be contacted by email at bearcountrychronicles@gmail.com, or by phone or text at (218) 766-8907. Deadlines for editorial and advertising are the second and 15th of the month. Bear Country Chronicles is also on Facebook.

Return to the October 2017 Issue