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The re-making of a small town newspaper

The saying “All good things must come to an end” applies to many things during a lifetime. Your childhood comes to an end, childhood friendships often end, families grow up and scatter, the security of having the presence of grandparents and parents end as they age and travel on to the next plane in their eternal journey, careers come to an end and often relationships and marriages do, too.

One of the most defining endings or changes though, is the end of the small town newspaper that you knew growing up. In the early part of the 1900s Farmington had only one newspaper: the Farmington News owned and operated by the Denman family. Then along came the Roberts brothers, Cecil and John, and began the ‘upstart’ Farmington Press.

I first worked at the Press when it was owned by Jesse and Marie Stewart and located at the corner of West Liberty Street and North Washington Street. I worked in the front office proof-reading, taking ads and finally learning to set copy on the innovative off-set press typewriter/computer type machine that replaced the old (and dangerous) hot lead type setting. Working with Jesse Stewart was the best training I ever had in what makes a good small town newspaper. Jesse’s credo was simple: write about what’s happening locally, write it well and write the truth as it is, not as you would like it to be.

After many years pursuing other careers, I returned to the Farmington Press in its then new and present location in what many people referred to as the former Heck’s IGA store. My memories of it went back further than that to when it was the train depot and turnaround for our locally owned ‘trolley’ that largely served the two large Giessing Mills in town transporting their products from downtown to the Delassus Depot that connected with the large freight and passenger train lines.

I worked at the present location for several years both as a reporter and then as editor. By this time it was no longer an independently owned paper. When I worked as a reporter it was a daily newspaper that came out in the early afternoon. That meant the staff usually worked fairly late into the night as the paper had to be put to bed before we could be.

I thoroughly enjoyed that time. At lot of it was due to the great staff I worked with: Jon Seals as editor, Pam Clifton, Donna Hickman, Doug Smith, David Mills and myself as reporters, and Angie Harrington at front desk. Our publisher wasn’t there for the late hour chaotic wrap-up, so we were often like an unsupervised middle school class: hyper and silly. Late night orders of “The Terrible Tater” and barbecue from The Warehouse Restaurant were often part of the ritual of getting the paper out. There was a lot of trading jokes, insults and gossip back and forth but, somehow, we always got out a good paper.

After the merger with Pulitzer and the Daily Journal, the Press was once again a weekly paper. As the other staffers were moved to different positions or left for other jobs, I was named editor and it became my responsibility to continue to produce the paper once a week, more or less as a one-woman operation.

The moving of the present Farmington Press from its home of the past few decades on North Washington Street to another location in downtown Farmington, therefore, is the ending of another memory for me.

I still write this column as I have since I was editor a good 20 years ago, and an occasional feature article for the Press. I hate to think of the time when I’ll have to write -30- to this also.

(For those who never worked at a newspaper, -30- is a former symbol that was placed at the end of each story by the writer to signify it was ended.)

New Field House “Walk Through”… A walk through of the new Farmington Field House and gym has been scheduled by Matt Ruble, Superintendent of Farmington R-7 Schools, for Nov. 22. An opportunity to see the impressive new facility that is nearing completion with a walk-through is being offered prior to the first home boys’ varsity basketball game that will be played in the present (old) gym. The new gym will not be used until early December.

Some things end, some things go on forever….The Cook Settlement Preservation Society is one of the things that work tirelessly to preserve the old Cook Settlement Church in Knob Lick. The group has encountered some rather large expenses this past year in keeping the old church in good repair. In an effort to replenish their coffers, the group is raffling a beautiful, handmade queen-size quilt done in shades of deep red. Tickets are being sold for $1 each or $5 for 6. The drawing will take place on Nov. 17 at the annual thanksgiving dinner and auction held by the group. The dinner is open to the public and there is no cost. It is an old fashioned dinner, everyone brings what they can and their own dinner service. It is held in the Old Christian Church on the corner of Highway DD and Wesley Chapel Road and starts at 7 p.m. with a white elephant auction and the raffle drawing to follow. Contact Teri Bloom at 816-885-2293 to purchase tickets.

Another trophy for FHS…Congratulations to the Farmington Varsity Cheerleaders for bring home a first place trophy. The Black Knight Cheerleaders won the Class 4A Small Squad Division at the Missouri State Cheer Competition on Nov. 5. They competed against 11 other squads from across the state. This is the first time the Farmington High School cheerleaders have ever won or even placed in the highly competitive field. Be sure to congratulate them for their hard work and success.

A big bark for the park…The city of Farmington officially opened the newly completed dog park at 1430 Perrine Rd. A ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony were held last Saturday with treat bags provided by PetCo being given to all the appreciative dogs and their owners who attended. It’s a large, clean and safe place for dogs to get the exercise they need and to make other furry friends. As a precaution, to have access to the park the dogs must be accompanied by their owner or other caretaker, have had their shots and be non-aggressive. It’s also a great place for their human companions to socialize and enjoy a day at the park.

“Baby Boomers: Country Style” ….The History of Country Music 5 is the theme of this year’s popular Baby Boomers concert this Friday and Saturday at the Centene Center. Directed by Dr. Kevin White, the show will feature “Duets” by many of the extremely talented area musicians that perform in the ever popular Baby Boomer Reunion Concerts. Enjoy a wonderful evening of music and entertainment at either of the shows that start at 7 p.m. and end at 10 p.m. Reserved seating tickets are $10 each and are available at the Civic Center box office. Tickets may also be purchased by phone by calling 756-0900.

Headliners at Centene Nov. 18…They’ve been called “Better than the Jersey Boys!” and have sold out shows at Las Vegas. “Let’s Hang On!” is America’s top Frankie Valli Tribute Show and they’ll be at the Centene Center on Nov. 18. It’s an opportunity to experience the trademark vocals that made Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons one of the greatest vocal groups of all time! Tickets available at the Civic Center or call 756-0900. 

Belgrade Bank Construction…The construction work on the addition being made to the Farmington branch building on West Karsch Boulevard is nearing completion. The original drive-thru lanes are being moved to the back of the building with five drive-thru lanes being provided. The new addition on the west side of the bank that was the former drive-thru area will now be space for seven new offices. The bank lobby and ATM remain in service throughout the construction process.

Community Thanksgiving Service…This year the Community Thanksgiving Service will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 22 at the Presbyterian Church located on West Columbia Street. The Farmington Ministerial Alliance invites people of all faiths, as well as those without a church home to come and join the annual service that celebrates thanks for the bounty of the year and asks for continued guidance and blessings for the year ahead. Bring your family and make this an annual tradition to begin the holiday season.

Help the Hungry….Saturday morning, Nov. 19! Circle the date in red and get ready to enjoy this annual community-wide event that is provided by the joint efforts of all of the Farmington churches. The bake sale and so much more takes place in the St. Joe gym and begins at 9 a.m. Breakfast is served in the adjacent dining hall beginning at 8 a.m. There are booths set up that offer a variety of delightful foods and gifts: everything from home-baked breads to beautiful handmade quilts. The annual drawing for Christmas wreaths is always a big feature, as are the auction that includes the bidding on the Pastor’s Cakes. It’s a lot of fun, a great opportunity to purchase food for the Thanksgiving meal coming up, as well as gifts for many of those on the shopping lists. This year “Help the Hungry Cook Books” will also be on sale for $15. The books feature some of the best recipes of both past and present residents. All proceeds from the book sales and the bake sale go to support the local St. Vincent dePaul and Ministerial Alliance Food Pantries. It’s a win-win event—those attending have fun socializing and shopping while also knowing that every penny spent goes to provide meals and food for those in need.

Coming Up:

Thursday, Nov. 17…A shopping spree of the LulaRoe Boutique at the Weingarten Winery. The shopping of the company’s entire inventory begins at 6 p.m. The company does not have a catalog or an online site for you to order so it’s first come, first choice. Most of the items are one-of-a-kind. Weingarten Vineyard is donating all proceeds toward outfits for ladies at the SEMO Family Violence Council. Check with the vineyard if you would like to bring a donation of clothing. They are also asking everyone to bring a food donation for the Knight Time Backpack Program. This organization provides snacks for children in need over the long holiday weekends.

There are so many activities going on now throughout the holiday season, that I recommend checking with the Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce, or watch the newspapers to find dates and times for up coming events.

One event I do urge you to see is the advent of the supermoon that will be appearing in our sky this Sunday and Monday nights. This celestial event will not occur again for many years. According to NASA, the supermoon is when a new or full moon occurs within 90 percent of its closest approach to Earth. The supermoon this weekend is set to appear up to 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than an average full moon, but it will appear different depending on where you are. Be sure to get the family outdoors to watch the spectacular “moon event.”

Janet Douglas

Janet Douglas

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