Saying goodbye to our hometown newspaper
Last updated 12/28/2022 at 12:01pm | View PDF
Perhaps because it is so very personal to me (and our staff), I/we are feeling this deeper than most will. But I truly don't think many in our community fully realize what they are losing with our paper closing. Maybe none of us really know what we have until it's gone. We like to think there is always a tomorrow, another chance (in our case another issue of the paper), until we are sadly reminded that isn't always the case. Time does run out, no matter how badly we wish it wouldn't. And that is the case for your hometown newspaper and our staff.
The Fountain Valley is not only losing its biggest cheerleader that has published stories about local residents literally from birth announcements to obituaries, and so much in between for 64-plus years now, I believe it is losing part of its identity. We have always stressed that this is "your" community newspaper because it always has been and we have mirrored so much of what makes Fountain Valley unique - all of you!! It is reflected in the many stories, photos and beautiful moments along the journey that have been featured in approximately 3,340 issues of our paper printed since it began October 3, 1958. We couldn't have done all that we have if not for the support of all of you. We have been witness to so many stories of generosity, kindness, compassion and more. You have continued to inspire all of us and it has been a true honor and pleasure to share them in print, making them a part of recorded history.
From when my late stepfather Carl H. Wiese and his partner, the late H. Kay Larson, first started the Security Advertiser back in 1958 to this fall, when we started our 65th year of service, it has truly "taken a village" called the Fountain Valley to make it possible, as well as some very talented and bright team members who have made significant contributions to the paper and the community over the years. There just isn't enough time to research all of their names to include, nor space to print them all, but we are forever in their debt.
Over the years, the paper has shared so much of all that makes the Fountain Valley so very special, featuring our youth in all their achievements in academics, sports, music, the arts and much more. We have covered some of your happiest moments- engagements, weddings and anniversaries as well as graduations, college achievements and career successes. We have featured many of our local senior citizens, especially through the Fountain Valley Senior Center's outreach and the many ways they help our golden agers stay well, vital and happy.
We have shared the stories of the locally owned businesses and special services and products and about employees, just as we have provided a space for community organizations and philanthropic groups that work so hard to make a difference for all of our residents. Our churches and religious leaders have always had a home on our pages to share the good word and shine light into the lives of local residents.
It has been a very special honor to cover our Armed services members and their families, as well as our local veterans organizations that do so much - not just for their own members but to teach others about patriotism and what it means to be a military community. It was one of our greatest honors to be involved with the creation of the Fountain Valley's own Veterans Memorial, which started when then-Mayor Jeri Howells saw the need for a local place to salute and remember our military members, and asked one of our best known and loved veterans, Frank Montoya (who also worked at our paper for many years), if he would take on the task. With his good friend Jerry Bryant and a committee of others including City Manager Scott Trainor, it became a reality.
Over the years, we have strived so very hard to keep the majority of our focus on the good news taking place here because truly – that is the Fountain Valley's identity!! We have benefitted from our small part of sharing your wonderful stories, too. I was a member of the Fountain Valley Optimist Club for several years and learned there how important focusing on the bright side of life truly is! Each of you in your own way not only shaped the paper into what it became, you did the same for me as well.
We have worked hard to keep a pulse on the community and to serve as the "Voice of the Valley" as Carl's headstone at Fountain's cemetery reads, regarding the legacy of service he left us; just as we have done our best to live his motto "to build a better world, start in your community." After all, it has been our home, too.
We have worked to keep you informed about city activities and governmental happenings to keep you in the know. We have advocated for citizens when we felt the need to and challenged our elected officials to never forget who elected them and who they serve. We have asked the tough questions of them, when citizens were often concerned about doing so themselves. As Carl taught me, we are the community's "watchdog." It is nothing to take lightly.
We have also provided space for many of our city, county and state officials as well as representatives of local school districts, to print columns so they may share with you information they felt was important to share. And both Districts 3 and 8 have submitted countless stories and photos to share about all the great things taking place in their schools. We are so very grateful to our partners with the local school districts - in District 3, Sam Briggs (and James Drew, and Judy McCollum before her), and with District 8, Christie McGee (and those who assisted with this previously) - for shining the light on our youth.
We have mourned with you during tragedies and losses, just as you have mourned with us when we lost beloved members of our News team, especially our beloved leader Carl.
We have celebrated with you over our community's greatest achievements... including when Fountain was named an All-America City in 2002. It was such an honor to be a part of that endeavor and to serve as a sponsor of the city's participation. I had the blessing of being on stage with then-Mayor Ken Barela when we were presented the award in Kansas City in front of a few thousand members of delegations from more than 20 other cities from across America. It was an honor of a lifetime.
They say there is a time for everything, but it is very hard to accept that the time for this newspaper to cease operating has come. All of us at the newspaper are so very grateful to everyone who has called and written to express their sadness and sense of loss, too. From 96-year-old Lillian who offered to come answer our phones for free if it could keep the paper going, to other readers like Marilyn who called a few times with ideas, offering to pay more if that would make enough difference. Over the last month or two we have shed tears on the phone and in person with visitors to the office like Jean, who are heartbroken about losing their precious newspaper. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. But sadly our world has shifted, times they are a changing... whether we like it or not. It is the way of the world. The more technology advances, the more it seems the older ways of doing things are fading away. If that is good or bad is for each of us to consider, and for history to decide. I started at this paper when I was an eager 18-year-old who loved to write and take photos. I am forever grateful to my lovely mother and #1 hero Kathryn Wiese-Moore (the owner of this paper). For it was she and her beloved husband, Carl who offered to give me a chance here when there was an opening at the paper. I would have never dreamed it would turn into my life's work. I truly feel like Jimmy Stewart in my favorite holiday movie "It's A Wonderful Life" when he said he felt like the richest person in the world!
I like to tell people I went to the Carl Wiese school of journalism and truly a better degree could have never been attained at a college or university. I also should add that my "degree" was enhanced as only one could be, from living and working among the thousands of beautiful people of the Fountain Valley community. You all touched my life in so many ways, and helped me to become the person I am today. You opened my eyes, educated me about so many different aspects of life here, unlike any other one person can probably claim. You truly gave me a "storied" life.
I have so many dear friends I found along the journey including many members of the "newspaper family." Working side by side, day in day out, they, too, helped me become the woman I am today.
I found my best friend Marianne McBride when I started working at the paper and have been so blessed to have such a kind, loving soul in my life all these years. She is the epitome of compassion and kindness and I learn from her examples to this day, how she makes a difference in the lives of others including total strangers. She has the most beautiful heart I know.
I found the brother I never had in Geof Clark, who gave more than 30 years of service to the paper and the community. It is so good to see him loving his retirement and truly enjoying life after he has done so much to make a difference in thousands of lives in the Fountain Valley.
Since 1994, after we lost Carl, I have been blessed to work with my sister Karen, who moved home that year and joined the team. She has worn many hats at the paper over the years, but most especially has shared her photographic talents for capturing special moments in nature - especially focusing on wildlife, namely eagles and the wild horses of northeastern Colorado. She has a gift for telling the story of these beautiful fellow inhabitants of our mother earth and has opened eyes to how the changing world is affecting them. We have come to love the story of the wild mustangs of Sand Wash Basin as only she could tell it. She has touched our hearts with her photos, and I am thankful we had the opportunity to work together. She has always had a deep appreciation for our environment, nature and animals that has been inspiring to me since we were little girls. Thank you for all you have taught me, Karen.
To our other Karin - our talented, brilliant and beautiful editor Karin Hill. Thank you for all you have done in the last three years to improve the paper and our Facebook page, expanding, improving and enhancing our local news coverage. You have been such a gift to the paper, the community and especially to us. Because of you, the paper has never looked better. What better way could there be to "wrap things up" and go out in such beautiful glory.
There are so many others who were part of our news team who mean so much. For fear I might miss naming someone, I am just going to thank them personally. I wouldn't want to hurt feelings if I forgot to include anyone.
Before closing, I must give extra special thanks to a woman who has served as a mentor to me since my early days at the paper, and has been a continual support personally and professionally across the last four decades. She has been a shining example of strength, courage and wisdom, and has been one of the biggest inspirations - from her public service that started with the School District Eight Board of Education, then as our longest-standing woman to serve on the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners (16 years). She was the second woman to serve on the board, starting in 1989. She was responsible for seeing to it that the very first El Paso County Department of Health satellite office was opened in the Fountain Valley. She also brought a motor vehicle office here.
After her years as commissioner she might have liked to retire into a much quieter life, but that wasn't the case. She graciously agreed when approached by a few of us to run for Mayor of "the great city of Fountain" as she always has said. Later, I had the blessing to serve on the council with her and learned so very much from her in that capacity, too. I can think of no one else who has given so very much of their lifetime toward making the Fountain Valley a better place than her. There really ought to be some type of monument or honor reflecting her years of dedicated service, and I do hope that between our county and city leaders someone will finally make that happen. It is so very long overdue.
Jeri, I am so very thankful that because you and Carl were best friends, I got to know you and am blessed to call you one of my best friends, too. You have said Carl was your mentor, so it is a beautiful turn of fate that in addition to Carl, you became mine.
Finally, last but not least, our thanks to all of the the many businesses who chose this paper to advertise in, making it possible for us to do all that we have done. Your vote of confidence in choosing our paper will forever be appreciated.