20 years later, it’s still a rollercoaster

Cal Beverly's picture

The title atop the column in this space two decades ago was, “The rollercoaster ride begins.”

It was my first column in the first issue of this newspaper — Feb. 10, 1993.

Most of the names on that first masthead are gone, including one signally important one — Dave Hamrick, the first managing editor of what was then called The Fayette Citizen.

He died in 2002 at age 51 as he was playing soccer in a local over-40 league, after getting the paper out earlier that Tuesday. After getting the paper out.

That was 11 years ago. I miss him to this day. He shaped the news coverage of this paper from its first edition all the way through the terrible days of September 2001. Every story on the first front page is written by him.

First I worked for him in the 1980s at the old Fayette Sun. Then, after the Sun folded in January 1993, and some of its veterans came together to raise up a new paper, he worked for me.

But that was a technicality — Dave was a man of singular integrity, and he covered and wrote about the news from that solid foundation.

Some of us from that first year are still around: The names of Diann Cupertino, Judy Kilgore, Kathy Hasse, Carolyn Cary and Sallie Satterthwaite are on the masthead in this issue.

Here are excerpts from my first column on this page as editor and publisher:

“About four weeks ago, some 22,000 of us in Fayette County said goodbye to a good local newspaper [The Sun]. Now, several of us Sun veterans are back again, with the new paper in town.

“It’s a scary, fun, nerve-wracking, exhilarating rollercoaster, this business of starting up a new newspaper in a competitive — and critically literate — market. From an idea in a few people’s heads to the paper you’re holding in your hands, this enterprise is less than a month old.

“... We’re trusting that you will ride with us through the initial bumps and that you will share our hopes for a professional, competently produced local paper that will remain relevant to life as you live it in Fayette County.

“Relevance is going to be our watchword here at The Citizen. We intend to give you a weekly newspaper that serves you in the daily business of living — from your trips to the supermarket to your weekend movie excursions, from your bowling league to your daughter’s soccer trophy, from your retail shopping to your Sunday church activities.

“We will provide perspective on local government actions that will affect you, your children and your property. We expect to encourage responsible citizenship among our readers and responsive service from our public officials. Such encouragement might take the form of applause at times, of criticism at others. In all cases we stand accountable to you, our readers.

“... If you think we are missing the point on some issue, write me and tell your side. I want to hear you, and I suspect some other folks might find what you have to say to be interesting as well.

“I hope that ... you will give us a shot at informing you, engaging you, even surprising you.”

When we started in 1993, both email and the Internet were ahead in the unseen future. So many things — and people — have changed.

But 20 years later, our goals are the same now as then.

Dave Hamrick also had a column on the same page of that inaugural issue. The title of Dave’s column was, “Let’s have fun along the way.”

He did, and we have. Let’s keep having fun a while longer.

[Cal Beverly is editor and publisher of The Citizen.]

ctkcec's picture
Joined: 11/06/2005
Happy Anniversary

Congrats to all associated with The Citizen. Never timid, never boring. No fear, no favor. Happy # 20.

ssidenative's picture
Joined: 03/18/2009
Simply Congratulations

Cal, a full on compliment: outstanding job. To take a start up business, much less a local newspaper, and still be around 20 years later is a great accomplishment.

I know there are many things you wish you'd done differently, or better. But in the end, you've created a successful business that still going.

We'll save the jabs about wrong-headed opinions, poor word choices, editorial slants, etc., for another time.

Simply, congratulations.

MYTMITE's picture
Joined: 02/14/2008
Happy Anniversay and a thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Beverly and

your entire crew. You are appreciated.

moelarrycurly's picture
Joined: 10/17/2010
Happy Anniversary, Cal and

staff. I've been reading you for almost 18 years now and have yet to have one edition that I can remember saying, "Well, there just wasn't anything very interesting in that one" or "That was a a waste of paper". How many trips down the driveway have we all made just to get this plastic bag that has this paper gift to us? How many of us include your paper in our twice a week routine, whether it is reading it over breakfast or lunch or sitting in a comfy chair or on the porch or deck or by the pool? You always have a headline that is interesting, and columns locally or otherwise that voice opinions that I can say to myself, "Right on" or "I can't believe this is happening".

The final best part? My adopted 16 year old cat loves, just loves the smell of your newsprint. He can smell it from the other room on a good day. It never fails, I will be in the middle of an interesting read and he comes out of nowhere, jumps up and just walks all over the paper in my lap or on the table and does everything possible with all 4 legs and his nose to create crepe paper, holey paper or wrinkle wrap right just to remind me each and every time how much he loves The Citizen. Like I don't remember from the last 352 times he has done it.

So, from Dusty and I, cheers on a job well done and many more to come.

wheeljc's picture
Joined: 10/26/2005
Happy Birthday Cal!

What a contribution The Citizen newspapers have made: in print, and on the web.
Each time we feel that 'honest journalism' is dead, we are reminded of the integrity on display 24/7 by you and the Citizen staff.

While technology may have changed, the need for timely honest facts and information for an informed population has not. THE CITIZEN has provided the latter!

Thank you Cal, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Jack Wheeler

Spyglass's picture
Joined: 01/28/2008
Thanks for the paper

It is worth every penny!

Plus you have Hizzoner giving you free comedy...priceless

NUK_1's picture
Joined: 12/17/2007
Dave Hamrick

One of the really good guys of the world that was taken far too soon.

Happy 20th, Cal and crew! I know you've provided me with plenthy of enjoyable moments over the years here :)

ptc103's picture
Joined: 12/12/2008
Thank you Cal

My wife, kids and I have lived in Peachtree City for 13 years now. We enjoy reading your paper when it's dropped on our driveway as well as the online access to all the local news, sports and editorials. You all have done a great job. Congratulations on twenty strong years and may the ride continue on for many more!!!

GeorgeDienhart's picture
Joined: 08/17/2011

I think you may be having more fun than I am... but happy 20th, anyway. Seriously, thanks for keeping us on our toes all these years.

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