By Dennis Minich
I would like you to take a quick glance back at our front page. There is a small line which appears every week, which is usually totally ignored as insignificant. It is the box in line directly below our flag on the front page.
For the past 52 weeks that line has read, “Volume 1,” followed by a number. Today, for the first time, that line reads: Volume 2.
In simple and easy-to-understand terms, this week The South Cass Tribune is entering its second year of publication. It is our birthday, or anniversary; whichever term you wish to choose. If you would like to send a gift, the proper present for a first anniversary is “paper.”
Making it to Volume Two is a big deal for us. In journalistic circles, that volume number is significant. It is not the same as the calendar year, it is not an abstract figure. It represents 52 weeks, and those papers are then bound into a volume which is tucked away for future reference.
Newspapers, as a rule, aren’t expected to talk about themselves much. It is a paper’s job to report the news, not be a part of the news; however, in the current world that line gets blurrier. But we have spoken about ourselves because, as a new publication in an area which had become newspaper deprived, people didn’t really remember how to become involved in the newspaper.
The purpose of a community paper is to be the eyes, ears, and voice of the community. We want to hear things, see things, but then we have to tell things.
I once learned from a wise old newspaperman that the key to analyzing your paper, be it weekly, daily or whatever, is to look through it and say, “Was this really worth killing trees to produce?”
That is how I always look at our paper. Almost always, I can say, “yes.” Occasionally, the answer is no, and that just serves as a motivation to work even harder.
Being as how we live in the communities we serve, we have a local connection. We are not just some out-of-towners who stop by simply when there is something scandalous or malicious to report.
This means sometimes our focus is different and sometimes we may report a story, or not report a story, because we understand the whole story – and context is a vital element to always be considered.
Making it 52 weeks has been a joy, a frustration, fun, anxiety-inducing and many other things, but it has never been boring. We have shared some fascinating stories; there are some terrific people and organizations in the area. We have seen miracles. There have been tragedies. There are people who think we pick on them, others who think we ignore them. I guarantee you, neither is correct.
What has helped us make it to Volume Two? Let’s start at the beginning. First there was Pat Thomas, who had a dream of a local newspaper. He started the Harrisonville Star and gave us an inspiration.
When he died last year, five local men came forward and said, “How do we keep a local newspaper?” The South Cass Tribune was born. They gave us some capital and Linda Thompson and I took off producing the best paper we could. Between us we have about 90 years of experience (yes, I am old, Linda is ageless) and we put everything we knew into the effort.
From the start, we have had some very valuable friends. This paper would not be possible without Jill Filer from the Harrisonville schools and, of course, Billy Barley, who is the reason so many of you buy this paper to begin with. Old friends we knew from the old county paper chipped in to help, including Jane Lemmer in typesetting and proofreading and Dora Nation, who came in and helped get the financial system in shape.
Then along the way, we have added new friends and cohorts. Sheryl Stanley retired from the city of Harrisonville and joined us as a reporter. Sheryl has been tremendous. She is such a great addition to our team.
During the Freeman festival in the fall, we met a recent transplant to the area, Rob Hearn, who wanted to take pictures. Since that time, he has been doing just that, and while I think I can take a pretty good picture from time to time, when we want something really good, we send Rob.
We met his wife, Pixie, who started helping us deliver papers, but we soon learned she brought much more to the table and she has joined us as a business manager.
Finally, our latest addition is Valerie Rinehart, who brings several years of advertising experience to the Tribune. In just her first month, she has contributed greatly and we are so happy she is here.
When we got started, this was a paper to cover Harrisonville and Southern Cass County. About four months in we were approached about covering Peculiar, and so we added it to our coverage area. Then, during the summer, we were approached about adding Adrian and Northern Bates County. It was a major decision to give it a try and so far, we couldn’t be happier with the outcome. We were especially fortunate that Linda Oldfield agreed to join us in our Adrian efforts.
We really feel a sense of community here, and whether you are from Peculiar or Creighton, Freeman or Adrian, or anywhere in between, we hope you feel like the Tribune is your newspaper.
To our advertisers: Thank you so much. You make this possible.
To our readers: Thank you so much. You are why we do this and we value each and every one of you.
To everyone: Thanks for a wonderful year, and we look forward to the years ahead