Every Tuesday night, a hardworking crew unloads some 7,500 newspapers from a Ford van, stack the bundles in the lobby at The Nugget, and get to work.

They are the inserting crew - the people who put the Ray's Food Place and Bi-Mart and other inserts into the papers readers receive in their mailbox or pick up around town on Wednesday.

A total of 6,900 papers receive inserts. The crew labels them for various postal routes or for the around town papers, bundle them back up and reload the Nugget van for the run to the post office on Tuesday night. It usually takes about 2-1/2 hours to get the job done. The inserters are paid a flat piecework amount per insert, so the quicker they work, the better the hourly rate becomes. But they are efficient more out of pride in their work than out of any financial incentive.

"It's hard work," says Nugget Editor in Chief Jim Cornelius, who also delivers the papers. "There's a lot of lifting and carrying involved, and they keep up a good pace, which I appreciate a lot, 'cause it keeps me from being out too late on Tuesday night."

The core crew consists of Debbie Slater, Totsy Swartz, Sally Blust, Kelly Webb and Denice Cristiano. Occasional substitutes or additions come in as needed, depending on scheduling and the number of inserts in a given week.

Most of the crew has been at it for years.

Slater, the defacto crew chief, says she's been inserting "for a long, long time. It must be 20 years, I guess."

She's an invaluable contributor, according to Teresa Mahnken, who schedules the crew.

"What would we do without you if you weren't here?" she said to Slater.

What would keep someone coming back week in and week out to sling newspapers?

"I like the work; I like the company," Slater said. "We have a good time. I don't know what to do on a Tuesday night."

The camaraderie of the crew is the common theme amongst all the inserters: They simply enjoy each other's company.

"It's fun," said Sally Blust, who's been inserting for more than 10 years. "I love the people. I like the physical-ness of the work. It keeps me young - that's it!"

The work may be physical and the pace is quick - but that doesn't interfere with the chatter. It is well understood that, between them, the inserting crew "knows everything" that is going on in Sisters. And they talk about it.

"We gossip," Slater cheerfully acknowledged. "What's said at The Nugget stays at The Nugget."

"That's not actually a principle that fits very well with a newspaper," Cornelius joked. "Maybe that's why they clam up when I come in...

"Seriously," he said, "this is an important job, and the people who do it have to be reliable. It's a remarkable crew, a great group of people, and we're very fortunate that they come in and just get it done week after week."

The crew is supportive of each other, both on the floor and in their outside lives. Webb suffered severe injuries in a motorcycle accident and got through that and other hard times with the support of her friends. And despite her injuries, she returned as soon as she could to rejoin them at work.

The all-for-one-one-for-all camaraderie plays out every week.

"Nobody's done till we're all done," Slater said.