(This story was first published in the April 18, 2013 edition of the Vermont Standard.)
Next week, The Vermont Standard turns 160 years old. Some of its storied past deserves mention as we begin our 17th decade of service.
The paper was founded in 1853 by Dr. Thomas Powers, who was also the superintendent of the construction of the current Vermont State capital building and the Windsor County Courthouse in Woodstock. Originally conceived as the Vermont Temperance Standard, an anti-alcohol publication, it quickly transitioned into the paper of record for the greater Woodstock region, outperforming and outliving 13 other local publications which existed here during the second half of the 19th century.
Since its inception the Standard has never missed a week of publishing, a record of 8,320 editions. Not even the burning of its offices in 1867 or a flood at its then-new offices in West Woodstock in 1973, which destroyed the entire pre-press and printing operations, could prevent it from arriving on the newsstands that week or thereafter.
More recently, in late August 2011, Tropical Storm Irene, which ravaged much of Vermont, caused the flooding and destruction of the Standard’s office, but not the commitment to publish or ever miss an issue since its birth. In comparison, after the 1973 flood the paper produced a four-page edition, but after Irene and under a new team of workers, the Standard produced a 64-page edition detailing the damage to homes and businesses in the local region and guiding citizens to sources of relief and recovery. For its efforts, a nomination was submitted for a Pulitzer Prize in community service.
Originally the Standard operated in the center of the village on the ground floor in space most recently known as Morgan Ballou and beneath the then-Cabot Funeral Home. When the presses ran, the entire building shook. Often they were shut off long enough for the more reserved services going on directly above to take place. Needless to say, on days like that the latest edition hit the newsstands a bit late.
Needing larger and more private quarters, in 1969 the paper built and occupied new space in West Woodstock on the banks of the Ottauquechee River. The flood of 1973 seriously challenged the then 140-year-old business but it recovered and was purchased in 1981 by the current owner, only to be totally destroyed by Irene in 2011.
Today we occupy office space at One Lincoln Corners, west of where we worked and expanded for many years, just yards from Welch’s Hardware and Manglewood. This time we are way, way above the Ottauquechee River, should it decide to flood again!
So, to what does today’s Standard credit its growth and success? For starters, it’s about the people who look to the Standard to learn what is going on locally, which affects their lives, which makes a community a community. Today they can stay connected by reading our traditional 160-year-old print edition, by accessing the 24/7 website, or subscribing to the eEdition, the electronic version of print which they can receive on their iPad, computer or other electronic devices from anywhere in the world.
We also credit and thank the dozens of correspondents and contributors who provide information about their neighbors, organizations, favorite subjects and concerns which, in turn, we can share with our thousands of readers and viewers. Collectively they make it possible to keep people informed, a task we simply cannot do alone.
Credit also goes to our loyal advertisers. They have stuck by us, even when the down economy has challenged their desire and ability to spend advertising dollars. Without them the Standard could not exist. A case in point was when, just days after Irene’s destruction, a businessman came into the office and dropped off a $2,000 check, indicating he hoped it would help us recover from what we had just experienced. That sort of confidence in this newspaper not only gave us a needed emotional boost, but also helped us a lot to keep paying our hard working staff. Without loyal advertisers there can be no newspaper, and without a newspaper there can be no news.
To suitably celebrate our 160th next week, we must not overlook our small but dedicated staff. Several of the nine have been with the
Standard for more than 20 years. Like our readers, contributors and advertisers, they also make the Standard very special.
We have a great deal to celebrate and be thankful for on April 27. Thank you, everyone for making it possible.