OROVILLE – Marking 20 years of community journalism in Northern Okanogan County, Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune managing editor, Gary DeVon, was honored for his two decades of service at a Sept. 27 surprise party by Oroville city officials and community members. Oroville Mayor Chuck Spieth noted the milestone by awarding DeVon with Oroville’s ‘Key to the City.’
“I remember Gary when he was just a lonely little character walking to school,” Spieth said after the event.
Spieth had served as Oroville’s Chief of Police during DeVon’s primary years.
“He only lived three doors up from me on Golden St. and I remember seeing Gary and his brothers walk to school each morning. Then he went away [Gonzaga University] for a long time.”
DeVon began at The North Okanogan County Gazette-Tribune as a general assignment reporter in August of 1987 having earned a degree in print journalism with a minor in business from Gonzaga.
“When I first came back (to Oroville) I did not intend to be here 20 years, maybe five and then move on,” DeVon said. “I remember I started at the end of the month and I think everything came out…my first articles were in September.”
He was first hired by former publisher, the late Bob Davis, after struggling to find a niche post-college during stints as a resident of Seattle and Spokane.
DeVon logged three years as a reporter at the Gazette -Tribune, then editor and has served as managing editor of the newspaper for the past 15.
“I always felt I was filling an important job,” he said. “But I consider myself maybe a community historian more than a newspaper editor.”
Former publisher Clayton Emry again took over the newspaper in 1996 stating, “Gary’s the boss,” he said. “I put my whole faith in him. I said ‘Don’t come to me.’ Go to Gary with your problems. If he can’t solve them….”
“He’s done a real good job as far as I’m concerned…as far as what goes on with the city and as far as cooperation with the city, too.”
Other G-T editors of the newspaper have included Frank Dallam, I. J. Doerr (33 years), Cleland Emry, Beth Benton and Davis.
The Gazette-Tribune changed hands again in March of 2004, purchased by Prairie Media, Inc. (later becoming North Central Washington Media) which also owns weekly newspapers in Leavenworth, Chelan, Cashmere and Brewster. The former Oroville Gazette merged with the Tonasket Tribune in the early 1970’s and celebrated 100 years of continuous publication in June of 2005.
“It’s a high honor,” NCW Media General Manager Jeff Walter said. “How many keys to the city do they give out?”