Ink and paper meld as presses roll

November 12, 2005

At 5 p.m. Thursday at the Hood River News, everyone is headed home, except for a scattered few who are still finishing up. In the press room, however, it’s time to start printing the Gorge Classifieds for Saturday’s paper.

Tony Methvin, manager, and Jason Edwards have the presses set up and ready to roll.

“It’s about a two-hour run,” says Methvin, a 20-year employee of the newspaper. He points to a couple of pallets stacked with what appear to be catalogs. “Those took us all afternoon, so that’s why we’re just getting started.”

Besides printing the Hood River News, The Dalles Chronicle and the White Salmon Enterprise, the Columbia Gorge Press also does commercial printing jobs such as school newspapers, Community Education publications, and Columbia Gorge Community College course catalogs. It’s a busy place.

A loud, long bell rings to signal the starting of the presses, and the printing begins. A continuous sheet of 25-inch wide newsprint paper is run first through the color press and then passes through the second press, which applies the black ink and makes sure the color and black inks are lined up properly.

In a rapid process, the paper moves through rollers to the last machine, which folds the paper lengthwise and adds a single page from another press, cuts to length and makes the final fold, so that the finished product comes out the bottom on a conveyor belt.

For the first 15 minutes Methvin and Edwards are in constant motion as they grab the finished paper, look it over carefully, then make adjustments on the appropriate machines. They repeat this over and over, taking yet another paper to see that the improvement was made, and checking for other problems.

Paper after paper, scrutiny after scrutiny, until finally, after about 15 minutes, Methvin is satisfied that all is well and goes off to do something else, leaving Edwards at the helm.

Helping out at the end of the line is Josh Sperber, who is taking the finished papers from the “Count-o-veyer” -- which receives them from the conveyor belt and counts and stacks them into manageable piles -- and evens up the stacks before arranging them on a pallet behind him.

Edwards notices that the single-page roll of paper is low, and stops the presses to change it. He removes the “end roll” and he and Sperber quickly muscle the 400-pound replacement roll into place and get it all set up again so that the presses can start back up without much delay.

But a new roll means another round of checks and re-checks of the finished paper. Edwards literally runs the 100 feet from one end of the presses to the other, checking this setting, changing that one. Methvin returns and helps him out.

“Once it gets started mostly what we’re checking for is registration (whether the color and black-and-white images are lining up together),” he says. “It tends to shift slightly up or down; not so much side to side.”

At 5:25, Jason sprints over to where his giant drink cup waits, and takes a long swig. Sperber does a few head rolls to relax his neck.

But there’s still no time to relax. Edwards continues to check papers every 30 seconds or so, making little adjustments here or there. He cleans off a scraper and climbs up to spread the ink – very thick and messy stuff -- more evenly in the ink well.

Edwards has worked in the press room for five years, and worked in circulation for five years before that. Ink runs in his blood, you might say; his father, Ray Edwards, has worked for the Hood River News for more than 40 years (and has run a typewriter repair business besides.)

The press is running smoothly (and loudly) and Edwards relaxes a bit.

“Once you get it set up and running, there’s not much else to it,” he says. “But you have to change both paper rolls (the 25-inch and the 12 1/2 –inch) at least once during each run. I’ll have to change that big one (the 25-incher) before the run is over.”

The 25-inch roll weighs 830-850 pounds, so it won’t be a matter of two men lifting it into place. They have special equipment they call “hockey sticks” that will help them.

At 6 p.m., Edwards is still pulling papers out frequently to check them over, but the atmosphere is more relaxed and the next hour will be more of the same – if all goes well.


Around the Clock is the Hood River News’ 24-week chronicle of life of Hood River County, one hour at a time. The series heads into evening now, toward its Dec. 24 conclusion.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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