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Don't Shoot the MessengerReading over the results for the second annual Readers’ Choice Best of Rogue Valley survey was insightful about residents’ likes and loyalties. By and large, there were very few runaway winners in most categories; instead, we found that our readers spread their votes over dozens of personal choices and favorites. We take that as a very good sign about the breadth and depth of quality businesses in the Rogue Valley—and that you-all really like your neighborhood pizza joints, your hair stylists, your electricians.  

Sure, there were some definitive winners. Oregon Shakespeare Festival received the lion’s share of votes for Best Theater Company, which is understandable, as OSF is a massive presence in the region, presenting world-class theater over several months and drawing tens of thousands to Ashland each summer. It is the costumed, English-accented elephant in the room. We would have been shocked had this quality, cultural impact and significance not been recognized. Even so, we were so very pleased that many of you also choose to recognize other theater companies in the region, and to give your votes to the Randall Theater Group in Medford and Barnstormers Theatre, which has been serving Grants Pass for five decades and has exactly one full-time staff member. Big and small, there is impressive theater in the region, and it is clearly a favorite of our readers.

Probably more telling, though, were the votes in the “service” category, where there were few standout winners. Instead, you-all voted for your individual stylists, plumbers and web designers. In the “Best Mechanic” category, we received nearly as many suggestions as we did voters—which, we interpret, as you-all really like your mechanics! And, according to our readers, there are a lot of good, trustworthy ones out there. Which, again, is an impressive insight into the quality of services in the region.

Yes, we understand this dance between quality of services and customer loyalty—and, although Best Accountant is not a category, we want to give our own shout-out to Rogue Tax Professionals. Headquartered in Medford, they have taken care of us since we launched two years ago. The first two years of a business—and with this issue, the Messenger wraps up its toddler years—can be difficult and sloppy. We are primarily writers and graphic artists, and not as interested in the demands from the brain’s left-hemisphere, like bookkeeping. But to stay in business, keeping books clean and checks paid and taxes filed is necessary—and, running a newspaper is not a simple process, with dozens of invoices going out each issue and checks to freelancers and illustrators; there are a lot of moving parts. Simply put: The Messenger would not exist without the diligence, attention and patience of the accountants at Rogue Taxes, namely Sara Louton—who has painstakingly seen each of our pennies and nickels are taken care of, and made sure we don’t drown in receipts and that the business-end of our business remains efficient and manageable. She truly is the best!

We are so pleased to present the readers’ choices for “Best of Rogue Valley” in this issue—and to hopefully help our readers find new restaurants and bands, or encourage you-all to celebrate the breadth and depth of high-quality businesses out there. We do also want to recognize that the names and businesses here are by no means a comprehensive list of the best businesses in the region, but merely a start of the conversation. And, we also thank you for making the Messenger one of your “besties.” With this issue, the Messenger reaches two years old and begins its third year of publishing. We are pleased that so many of you have supported us over the past 50 issues—and that southern Oregon has been able to show that newspapers are by no means relics, but are thriving and important parts of the community.

Thank you.


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