“PREMIERE ISSUE: Community newspaper makes debut in Opelika”

That’s what the first above-the-fold headline of the Opelika Observer read when we opened our doors almost four years ago.

We feel honored and blessed to have succeeded in our endeavor to create and maintain a newspaper for this community that focuses solely on this community. What we say in our motto, “By local people, for local people,” is exactly what we mean.

While economic indicators and employment trends tell us that journalism and newspapers are not economically sound investments in these times, we tend to disagree, as we have seen this community welcome this paper and its mission with open arms.

A great deal of the credit goes to our team of owners, the local folks who had the brainstorm to start this crazy scheme in the first place.

In addition to our editorial board owner/members (Editor Fred Woods, Henry Stern and Jimmy Collins), other stalwart local citizens like Charles Whatley, Kay Wiley, Roger and Ronnie Justice, John Rice, Calvin Rhodes, Bill Young, Leroy Stewart, Dennis Hamlet, Robert Dudley, Charles Lawler and Steve Benson helped bring about the genesis of the Opelika Observer.

Men like Doug Horn, Roy McClure, Fred Woods and Bill Trant serve on our management committee and Dr. Buddy Bruce, DVM, is our management committee chairman and publisher.

Without the vision of these individuals, the paper never would have come to be.

However, without the hard work of a few other individuals, it might not have continued to exist.

Our associate editor Hilary Hawks is the real powerhouse behind our printed issue.

She designs most of the paper, places and bills ads, draws up and bills legals, handles customers, balances the books, corrals columnists, edits stories and does generally anything and everything necessary to make sure this paper comes out every week and looks its best.

Without her and her talents, we’d have folded long ago. She’s the unsung hero of our outfit and credit is more-than due her way.

Veteran local news writers like our political writer Greg Markley and the always-popular Ann Cipperly helped lend us their credibility and delighted our eyes with stories we never knew existed.

Our current crop of new staff writers like Margaret Chambers and Donna Williamson show us that the community is embracing this paper, and wants to let their stories be known.

Our subscriptions manager, Ms. Kathy Crump, makes sure you get your issue each week and is always ready to lend a hand and do what needs to be done.

We must also pay special tribute to another lady without whose help we would be in trouble: our “first lady” Brenda Woods, who kindly volunteers to help edit this mess every Wednesday afternoon and usually brings some sort of goodie to help ease the pain.

Of course, we must thank our advertisers, many of whom have stood beside us since week one. Our ad team, Allen Samford and Jack Jackson, are constantly pounding the pavement to spread the gospel of the community newspaper, and we couldn’t ask for better disciples.

Lastly, we thank you, our readers.

Without your continued support, encouragement and feedback, we would have no earthly idea if we were successful in reaching you at all.

Your letters, your calls, and your visits let us know what we’re doing right, and more importantly, where we can do better.

Four years ain’t bad for the little newspaper some thought couldn’t make it.

Happy 4th birthday, Opelika Observer.

Let’s hope we see many, many more.