Fountain Valley News - Your Hometown Community Newspaper

Wild Whisperings


Last updated 12/28/2022 at 12:05pm | View PDF

Karen AuBuchon Johnson

A large group of elk, consisting of cows and their babies and a few young bulls, stopped for a summer drink from this pond and several decided to go swimming. I had the pleasure of watching them playing and enjoying themselves for awhile. Western Colorado.

In this final edition, I'd like to share some of my favorite wildlife photos that have been featured in this newspaper.

My career at this newspaper began in 1994 when my husband Ben and I moved here from the mountains on the Western Slope. My step-father Carl Wiese, co-founder of this newspaper, had died a few months earlier and we wanted to be here for our mother Kathryn as she took over as owner/ publisher of this newspaper. A position for a reporter/photographer opened up, and I've been here ever since. What an amazing experience it has been meeting so many beautiful people and learning so much about life and the Fountain Valley community!

My parents lived on Rose Drive in Security when I was born. Returning here many years later, I was so touched by the strong sense of community and how caring so many people were. I was really impressed by the character of the people at the VFW posts, American Legion and other local military groups and the various church groups.

Working as the reporter, I covered all sorts of events: city council, school districts and other public meetings; school events (the activities at the elementary schools were so much fun); emergency situations; whatever was happening at the moment. I was the one behind the camera taking pictures and responsible for accurately reporting both sides of the story. Writing had never been one of my strong points, so it was a challenge for my sister, Patty St. Louis, who was the editor and my co-worker, and Geof Clark, who both had the daunting task of editing my stories and teaching me the AP Style of newspaper writing.

Later, I assumed the position of office manager - still filling in and covering the news wherever needed - eventually becoming the general manager.

Taking pictures of all sorts of things and riding and showing my horses and art were my favorite things to do growing up. When I was transferred, moving to the mountains with my job with Western Electric (part of AT&T) back in 1979, wildlife and landscape photography became a passion.

Working here at the newspaper I found out my very favorite supervisor out of all the different jobs I've held prior to working at this paper, Gene McGarvey, was a subscriber and Fountain resident! So I got to know him and his lovely wife in a whole different light.

Working in town, I missed the solitude of the mountains and vast open spaces, so I'd plan weekends and use my vacation days to go back up there, and was able to continue taking wildlife photos. The famous quote by John Muir, "The mountains are calling and I must go," pretty much summed it up.

Creating the Colorful Colorado photo feature pages and then Wild Whisperings was a great opportunity for me to share my photography with our community.

I was very shy growing up and still consider myself a bit of an introvert, so communicating through my photos has been natural for me. The quote, "A picture is worth a thousand words," also sums up a way I found to communicate what I've felt in my heart through my photography.

Working at a small paper we've learned to fill in wherever needed and wear a multitude of different "hats." I've worn most of them over the years - leaving the editor hat to Patty and more recently, to our current editor Karin Hill.

When Patty retired from the paper back in 2019 its future was already looking uncertain: advertising income had been slowing down as well as our number of subscriptions had dropped. I was determined to keep the paper going and prayers were answered when Dr. Jarod Waters from Fountain Chiropractic suggested I contact his neighbor Karin to see if she'd be interested in becoming editor. We were so fortunate Karin agreed and joined the staff!!

We also hired some new, younger employees. I will always be so grateful and appreciate Geof's decision to wait and retire spring of the following year as he helped with the transition and to get everyone trained.

We created a new look for the paper, rebranding a new design in February 2020, even using one of my photographs taken at the Fountain Creek Nature Center for our newspaper banner. The future of the paper was looking up, and then sadly COVID hit... All of our sources of revenue streams diminished. Fortunately Karin and I were able to secure a variety of grants that helped keep us going.

Patty decided to come back to work at the paper in 2021, and I am grateful for her support, especially as we are winding down, and happy she has had the opportunity to be part of this process of reminiscing and saying farewell to the community she has been such an instrumental part of.

Also, a huge thank you goes out to Karin, Taylor Hill, Mike Alexander, Eric Henderson, Kim Macias, Olivia Cintas and Karen Hoadley and our carriers for sticking with us to the end! It's been an amazing journey, and I've been blessed to work with so many special people, employees and community members you have my deepest thanks!!

Wild Whisperings Photography by Karen AuBuchon Johnson available for purchase in the News Office. Call 719-382-5611 for 719-440-8521 for more information.

For more photos follow this link:


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