Neena Strichart in her office at the Signal Tribune. (Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune)
Neena Strichart in her office at the Signal Tribune.

Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune

Thought’s from the Publisher | My final thoughts

February 14, 2020

Twenty years ago, February 24, 2000, the Signal Tribune’s first issue hit the streets. A few weeks earlier my new staff members and I gathered in my dining room to start, what I hoped, would be a weekly newspaper that would be welcomed by readers and advertisers throughout the City of Signal Hill and the Long Beach neighborhoods of Bixby Knolls, Wrigley, California Heights, Memorial Heights and Virginia Country Club residents. Then called “The Signal,” that first issue was produced in my home with the help staff members sharing one table and one phone.

By the time we moved into our offices on Myrtle Avenue, we were struggling to find equipment at a reasonable cost. Goodwill, Out of the Closet and donations of office equipment from friends and family were our salvation. Our budget was nearly non-existent. Our camera was a cheap 110-model held together with duct tape, and our photo lab was the one-hour counter at Costco. There was no money for a copy machine, so we made our copies on our inexpensive fax machine. We had one computer– used for layout– with no internet. I had to run home several times a day to put any email messages we received on floppy disks. It was nuts.

There are so many details that I could share, but alas I have neither the time nor the space. A year later, after buying the Signal Hill Star Tribune, we went to court and became adjudicated to handle legal notices for Los Angeles County clients as well as those who needed our services in Signal Hill.

Ten years into the venture our office roof collapsed from a crazy rain/wind storm and we lost nearly everything. Thanks to my quick-thinking staff, and fire department personnel we grabbed as much as we could and took off for drier ground. From there we moved to a nice office across the street from our flooded-out offices and began the task of drying out our paperwork… archives, billing, client files, tax records and more. We stayed put for another eight years.

Some of you may know, some may not, that I sold the paper two years ago (2018) to the corporation known as Signal Hill Paper, LLC. Shortly afterward my boss, Jimmy Eleopolous – owner of Big E. Pizza and the new Jimmy E’s, bought a building for the Signal Tribune to call home. I have enjoyed my new office and my fancy new powder room.

Over the last year or more I haven’t been seen much in public when it comes to events and Signal Hill council meetings, I also stopped writing my column during those times. I’ve not been hiding, I’ve been dealing with some rather serious health problems including a brain aneurysm, concussion, brain bleed and other issues connected with it all. On top of everything else, I have had to deal with the death of my darling mother and my Auntie Jeraldine. It has all been pretty over-whelming.

Over the last few months I have started feeling a bit more like my old self. I am now back to writing my column, my sense of humor is almost back to normal, and I’ve been going out in public more often.

Just when I thought everything was going to work out, my hubby Steve began having excruciating leg pain. Turns out he was going to need multiple spinal surgeries. His first surgery was at Cedar Sinai Jan. 13, the second was Jan. 16 and the final took place on Jan. 20. After a couple of weeks, he was sent to a rehab center right here at Memorial Hospital. He has now been out of the rehab clinic for a total of four days and is home now recuperating. His recovery is going to include extensive physical therapy several days a week. My job as his caretaker is going to be time-consuming (although a labor of love) driving him to and from appointments, handling all meals, shopping and household duties.

Given the above, I have decided as of tomorrow to retire and stay home full-time. After 20 years of running the Signal Tribune, and five years before that working for two other newspapers, I am bringing my career to a close. I have loved being part of this weekly miracle, and deeply love every one of our readers and advertisers.

My staff has been amazing and have done their best to keep my spirits up during this difficult time in my life.
Thanks for reading– I appreciate you all. Do continue to read and support the Signal Tribune. I don’t know what the plans will be for the paper moving forward, and it may morph into a bit of a different type of publication, nevertheless I am sure it will continue to be a newspaper of great value to its readers and one that will help its advertisers bring new customers to their establishments.

I wish you all a happy and healthy future. If you would like to keep in touch with me, I can be reached at [email protected]

Farewell my loves,
Neena

15 Comments

15 Responses to “Thought’s from the Publisher | My final thoughts”

  1. Mary Humme on February 14th, 2020 7:37 pm

    Thank you Neena. I wish it would have been easier, but…I think journalists are the real deal, a gift of great importance, no matter local news or personal insight, or even local ads. I know you need readers too, so I guess that was my gift… such as it was. I will miss you because the paper let me know you. Also fyi, I have saved some of your articles, some notes regarding your mother too.

    Best wishes on your retirement, and hope your dear hubbie’s pain just goes away, and he can enjoy and share (to whatever extent) the things that give YOU joy!

  2. Vicki Ferguson on February 14th, 2020 9:19 pm

    I am sorry to hear how much you’ve been dealing with . So sorry to hear about Steve . I also was attending Memorial rehab 6 months after a stroke and met a friend of your long time friend. I will contact t you through Tribune leave my number hope to speak to both of you
    XOXO
    Vicki Jones Ferguson

  3. Reba Birmingham on February 15th, 2020 6:47 am

    Neena, you are our local Molly Ivins. Always energetic, funny, insightful and never mean. You and Steve are fixtures of the community and have both given so much in different ways. My prayer is that Steve gets through this and you two have more fun adventures. If you get too tired, call friends, we do know how to cook! Thank you for starting The Signal, and I’m glad it has kept going under a new owner. We need local press, and a voice that originates in our community. So, for all of that, well done!

  4. Tom Marinello on February 15th, 2020 8:01 am

    Neena, all the best. Take good care of Steve and the hounds. See you soon.
    /Tom

  5. Camille on February 15th, 2020 9:05 am

    Neena has been my champion and colleague for 25 years. Generous, funny, thoughtful, encouraging – I will put that retiredNeena email address to use!

  6. Sylvia Hopper on February 15th, 2020 9:35 am

    After you get Steve up and running, you’re going to have a fun retirement.
    I’ve always been of newspaper. Especially local ones. Whenever I get a chance I read Downey, Norwalk and Whittier. Occasionally I get the Santa Barbara and Crestline.
    I was so glad that Signal Hill Tribune was available. Most of all that the best part of the paper is and was you Neena. Always there for you and all non-profits, organizations and anything personal. It was that extra help and caring that made a big difference. You are the best business person. Always very professional. Set us straight on what was right or wrong.
    I know we’re going to see to see you more than ever before.
    Wnens the party?!

    Love, David and Sylvia Hopper

  7. Sandy & Paul Begtzos on February 15th, 2020 12:00 pm

    Congrats ? ? on your retirement. The one thing I missed most when we moved from Signal Hill to Tucson Arizona was our local paper! I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of your dear sweet momma, what a beautiful woman she was?, and your Auntie. The one thing I hate about getting older is the health problems we run into, I guess I always thought I’d be healthy into my senior years and heck in my heart I don’t even feel old, it’s just the ole body falling apart! I hope you and Steve get healthy enough to come and visit us now that we are back home in California, we are only about 4 hours away now, and living in the country next to family is great. I’ll keep you and Steve in my thoughts and prayers ?? That 2020 will be a better year for you two ?????
    much love ? Sandy & Paul (aka small?and big?)

  8. Ron and Susan Vander Molen on February 15th, 2020 1:53 pm

    We had so much fun getting to know you during liquidation of Jeraldine’s , as trying as that was for you. Here’s to a wonderful retirement, and may good health grab you both by the hand and be your constant companion over the ensuing years. Hopefully soon we can come by and have a nice lunch-our treat!

  9. Dana Allison on February 15th, 2020 5:15 pm

    This is Heather’s big sister replying to your email which came to me over the internet. Somehow, or other, our “superficial” relationship has come about with no direct contact with each other. I see that my nieces have enjoyed your times together, and that they cherish knowing you. You appear to be a grand person to know. Until reading your resume of your newspaper career I never knew where your talents lay. When first meeting Andy while he was at Boston University before he married my sister, he worked on that university’s student newspaper, a publication I truly enjoyed, and read every week while I was a student at BU. My maternal grandfather was a news paper editor in several publishing houses down in various Appalachian towns in which he, and my grandmother lived while raising their family. It is interesting that my oldest son was a videographer/reporter for various TV stations over this country before he became a professor at a Chinese university. Your descriptions of the experiences you outlined showed a great love of the profession, most of all, the faith you had in your abilities to follow, and to make a success of your venture is a wonderful outline to share with others hoping to engage themselves in similar pursuits. Even though much news is being disseminated electronically, there is still a need for printed news. Nothing like sitting at a table with a cuppa in one hand, and the newspaper in the other! Although you are beginning your retirement on a difficult note, please, enjoy your time as a reward for your dedication, and a job well done.

  10. Shirley Vaughan on February 15th, 2020 7:33 pm

    There comes a time with everything and you are entering your retirement with such grace, of course you will remain my friend forever!!!

  11. Renee on February 15th, 2020 9:12 pm

    I had no idea all that you were going through. You are loved.

  12. Melissa Keyes on February 16th, 2020 12:48 am

    Neena, from the first time we met, I knew I adored you. I truly enjoyed working with you and your paper. I wish you only the happiest of days as you begin this new phase of life. While the dynamics may have changed, i look foward to us continuing to work together on the causes we share. So cheers to you my friend for a wonderful career, the lasting legacy you truly deserve and for happy and healthy days for both you and your husband.

  13. Sandra Cason on February 16th, 2020 4:32 am

    Ms. Neena, you’ve had an amazing journey. Thank you for sharing. The very best of everything good to you.

    Sandra Cason
    Furniture Consignment & More

  14. Maria Weston on February 16th, 2020 10:17 am

    Oh, Nina, I’m sorry to see you go. Life is full of transitions and this is no different. I wish you much love and courage in this new chapter of your life. Too, I hope to see you out and about in town.

    Many blessings to you and yours. ???

  15. Kelly Nielsen on February 18th, 2020 9:16 am

    Hooray. She’s finally gone.

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