Co-owner Ed Verner shares memories about the almost-four years of the paper's operation.
There is a modest collection of business memorabilia in the waiting area outside of my main office. Prominent in that spot is an old newsstand with each issue from the Plant City Observer’s first full year of publication.
The first edition ran that fateful July 4, 2012, when we were sponsors of the fireworks and celebrated the new locally-owned and operated weekly newspaper in Plant City. On the wall above the newsstand I have a copy of that first issue, signed by the employees, and a staff shirt displayed in a shadowbox.
Last week, I took a moment to review that first paper and recalled how refreshing it was to see in-depth coverage on the retiring Plant City fire chief and of the City Commission meeting and the color pictures of what the Fourth of July means to Plant City folk. The Plant City Observer, now the Plant City Times & Observer, has brought community happenings to us in print 200 times, as this is our 200th issue.
It is impressive.
As the Plant City Times & Observer hits its 200th issue I look back and reflect with no small amount of appreciation on the looming fourth anniversary of operations. For perspective, keep in mind how a monthly magazine would take over sixteen and one half years to accomplish 200 issues. And, of course, monthlies generally cover positive and uncontroversial activities (which is important and I appreciate them), but a newspaper must, at times, be concerned with contentious issues. We must cover crime or errors in government which need debate or attention. And let’s not forget our large commitment to local youth sports and athletics.
This morning, as I reflected upon the depth of what 200 weekly issues really means, I recalled how I have read every issue of each paper that has emerged from the effort. The Plant City Times & Observer produces week after week — without pause —and with reporters and staff living and frequenting businesses and active in Plant City. It is a good paper.
Though my involvement has been minimal, as an investor and reader, I enjoy a small amount of pride in knowing how I, joined with Observer Media Group CEO Matt Walsh, co-owners Felix Haynes and Nate Kilton, former Managing Editor Michael Eng and many others, helped those years ago to start something I believe is now a proven community asset.
The Plant City Times & Observer is growing, and Plant City will increasingly need our weekly newspaper. I am glad we have one, and you should be as well.
Ed Verner is a co-owner of the Plant City Times & Observer.