It’s quite hard to believe that this very paper you are reading was originated six years ago over another publication’s inability to get an advertising client’s color correct. I know this to be a fact, because I’m one of the founding partners of The Weekly Newspapers. (In the interest of full disclosure, I am no longer part of the ownership of the Weeklys; the Kolers run the show now and remind me when I’m late with my column each week.)

Since that first issue hit the streets (literally) six years ago, the Weekly has really fulfilled its original mission to be a true community newspaper. We’ve covered community events, spotlighted lots of locals who have made a difference, and put lots of people’s pictures in the paper. Along the way, the Weekly has really become a part of the community it serves, and I feel a bit like a proud parent whose kid has done really well.

Six years ago, the Weekly staff consisted of Ed and Loretta Frost, Julie Johnson (our new salesperson), Joni King, and yours truly. It was Saturday night, the truck had come in with our first run of papers, and it was time to deliver. My wife, Marlene, joined us as we all hopped in cars loaded up with huge bags of bagged newspapers and drove all over Marathon and Key Colony Beach throwing caution to the wind and newspapers to the people. It literally was my first paper route!

Six years later, the Weekly still delivers even more – all the way from Conch Key to the 7 Mile Bridge, and that makes us unique. And in the days of corporate media, the fact that the Weekly is still a locally owned family business makes its success all the more rewarding. (Family is the right word; there’s a new generation of Koler that might one day become a newspaper mogul like his parents!)

There are certain things about being involved in the daily operations of a newspaper for which nothing will ever prepare you. Like deadline day. The stress of getting all the ads done and approved… getting all the articles, columns, and graphic elements together… and finally collecting everything and putting it all together in a program called Quark Xpress. Myself, I’m an Adobe guy. Give me Illustrator and Photoshop, and I’m pretty good. I never could get the hang of Quark, which is why we always had at least one Quark expert around. The reality of living in the Keys even catches up with Quark experts now and again, and I remember one evening when I had to cancel a Friday night gig because our Quark expert was too inebriated to continue laying out the paper.* Fond memories, indeed.

Other days weren’t always as stressful, but there was the constant pressure to get the ads laid out and approved, working on a lot of ads at the same time. Not to mention writing, editing, photo cropping, e-mailing, I was never much of a multi-tasking kind of guy before the Weekly, but I learned more than I ever wanted to about keeping multiple action items going. I thanked my lucky stars that we only had one issue a week to publish.

Until, however, we made the decision to expand into Islamorada/Key Largo, Key West, and Homestead/Florida City. Multiple issues, multiple deadlines—looking back, I’m still not sure how we did it. Somehow, we did… and here it is six years later!

Along the way, some good people, names you may remember, have worked for the Weekly: people like Steve Conklin, Jim Epperson, Rianna Perry. Each made his or her own contribution to making the paper just a bit better. It seems like only yesterday when this tall, gangly dude from Ohio showed up at our doorstep, ready to write for food. Today, he and his lovely wife own the joint!

It’s really hard to believe that it’s been six years… 2,192 days (counting the two leap years)… 52,608 hours. And that’s roughly 312 issues of the Weekly that have been delivered since this all began. Anniversaries aren’t just for looking back, however. They’re also about looking forward into the future, setting goals and realizing dreams. Let’s all raise our glasses and toast the Weekly Newspapers—six years old and still growing strong.

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