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February 2019: Our last edition - Westside Pioneer bids farewell to its readers

       Editor's note: The following is the Page 1 article in the four-page, printed Westside Pioneer that was distributed to Pioneer news outlets between Feb. 18 and 20. The other article in the farewell print edition, headlined "Reprising the Pioneer's top stories... and some folks we lost," is separately posted at this link.
       To fulfill obligations to our advertisers - whose support was invaluable in allowing this newspaper to be published all these years - both articles are posted with paid ads through early March. After that, the Pioneer's main page will be reformatted to become primarily an access point for the newspaper's print/online archives. The intent of Pioneer publishers Kenyon and Therese Jordan is for those archives - covering all the years of the newspaper (2004-2019) - to remain online indefinitely, with the aid of their son, Travers Jordan (the "Techno Guy").

By Kenyon Jordan

Feb. 20. 2019
       Starting a newspaper is a little bit like taking off on a train ride. As long as the tracks loom in front, it's as if the train could go on forever. In the same way, one
Kenyon and Therese Jordan, who started the Westside Pioneer in January 2004 as a Westside community paper and ran it together until the last edition in February 2019, stand at the front gate outside their former home/office on South 26th Street on the occasion of their 45th anniversary in April 2018.
Travers Jordan photo
issue of a newspaper can lead to the next. And the next. And the next.
       So it's been since my wife Therese and I started the Westside Pioneer and published its first issue Jan. 5, 2004. Like the train, thanks to a receptive readership and businesses willing to advertise, we've always had track in front of us.
       There's just one small difference. We're not machines. The time has come. We're stopping the train.
       This will be the last edition of the Westside Pioneer.
       I suppose, for a lot of you, there's no reason to read any farther. One less newspaper. So what. The Colorado Springs Westside didn't have its own publication before. And now it'll return to that. Life goes on.
       But for those of you who may have liked how we covered Westside news, or feel as if we've left you in the lurch, let me explain as best I can.
       First of all, I'm sorry. There's no easy way to do this. We've always known this day would come; we just didn't know when or how.
       I also want to emphasize a point, in case another Westside paper comes along in our wake. The Pioneer was never owned by anyone but us. And I mean that in the literal and figurative sense.
       This has truly been a mom-and-pop newspaper, with Therese managing the finances, advertising and circulation, and me doing the writing (close to 15,000 "Westside Pioneer article" bylines!), editing, layout and most of the photography, plus helping with deliveries. And of course, we puzzled out the big decisions together.
       I didn't always make it easy for us. More than once, what I wrote cost us advertisers. But oh well. We were trying to be a newspaper, not a shmooze of the
Counting the years in photos... 2004: Joe Fabeck, a leader in saving Red Rock Canyon as city open space, leads a group through the property.
Westside Pioneer photo
world. That being said, we did seek to treat everyone we encountered - business owners, secretaries, volunteers, city officials or random people who rang our doorbell - as fairly and individually as possible. We even asked permission before putting our newspapers in various businesses - making us a rarity in that regard, as we came to learn.
       Like many mom-and-pops, we got a boost from our kids. Computer support and significant delivery contributions were provided by our older son, Travers “The Techno Guy” Jordan. Our younger son Rioux also helped with deliveries and sometimes with technical elements, although he was in school most of our newspaper years and has chiefly lived elsewhere since 2011. In addition, both boys took photos for the Pioneer here and there; Travers wrote a couple of techie columns, and Rioux wrote (or contributed to) four or five stories.
       I think running lean made us more efficient. Therese and I knew what we had to do, which often involved sleepless nights before press deadlines and desperate endeavors, right down to the last second in most cases, to scout for errors.
       Somehow over 15 years, despite bad weather, computer malfunctions, health issues (even surgeries), and occasional complications with ads or stories, we never missed a print or delivery date.
       But here's the other side of a two-person staff. What happens if something bad happens to one or the other? There is no fallback, no safety net. Definitely, no guarantees. Which is a little scary when every deadline involves money totals in the four-figure range.
       I suppose you could say we took a small step toward the exit in 2014 when we stopped printing weekly - first going entirely online, eventually mixing that with a
Counting the years in photos... 2005: The Sweetwater Indian Dancers lead a Friendship Dance outside the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center.
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printed paper every two months.
       Life's realities really crystalized for me last fall when I hit age 70. I thought: Do I really mean to keep the paper going until mortality finishes kicking in? (Believe me, it's already started.) I could picture myself as a reporter tottering around falteringly - maybe too far gone to realize it - or else (a far more romantic scenario) collapsing in the middle of a news assignment and being carried off gloriously, like a warrior of old on his shield after a battle.
       As for Therese, happily younger than me, she has loyally and deftly managed every task handed to her, regardless of never having trained for this type of work - other than becoming a part-time typist in 1973 at the college paper in southern Maine where I was the editor and… well, that's another story.
       She went from barely knowing how to navigate computer programs to learning esoteric skills in Adobe Photoshop and creating most of our ads, each one specialized for the business paying to run it. And while she's never complained (well, maybe a murmur here and there), I know she has other interests and a general weariness with the often-aggravating financial side of the business.
       There was another influence on our end-game decision, and that was how Colorado Springs and the Westside have changed, unfortunately not all for the
Counting the years in photos... 2006: The start of the last St. Patrick's Day Parade in Old Colorado City. (It moved downtown the next year.)
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better. Maybe if the city had stayed closer to what it was when we first moved here nearly 40 years ago - a smaller, friendlier city, more open, with almost no bums (or bum-enablers) and political correctness at a lower octave - that warrior/ shield image (however morbid) might have had more appeal. As it is, I've come to realize, much of what I've been doing at the Pioneer in recent years was chronicling the disappearance of what I liked most about the Westside in the first place.
       In the face of such changes, it would have been edifying to see the Westside people who can make a difference displaying more of the stand-your-ground style that old warhorse Dave Hughes once embodied for this side of town (and still does, at age 90). It was a recognition that - dating back to when Colorado Springs
Counting the years in photos... 2007: The Bijou bridge at I-25 was closed for nearly a year while its replacement was built as part of the state's COSMIX project.
Westside Pioneer photo
founder William Palmer ran the railroad to his Little London, not the rowdier, already-established Colorado City - the Westside was always going to be the “red- headed stepchild” and would have to work that much harder to get its due.
       That held true even after Hughes, Gene Brent and others led the rejuvenation of Old Colorado City and the surrounding neighborhoods in the 1970s and '80s, using the classic old buildings as economic boosts (instead of targets for an urban renewal wrecking ball). Although that increased the city's tax base, it's still the case that when government wants something to happen over here, indifference to the Westside's intrinsic qualities is the rule, not the exception... and not having our own government eases the divide-and-conquer tactics.
Counting the years in photos... 2008: Coronado High band instructor Alan Combs bows to the audience after his Wind Ensemble performed the first-ever piece of music in the school's new auditorium.
Westside Pioneer photo

       A recent example is the way the city's Bancroft Park renovation planning often left Westsiders in the dark. A few years before that, it was the state's Highway 24 expansion study, blithely calling for the removal of dozens of buildings, while Westsiders argued in vain. And the only reason the Mesa won't have 12-story and 6-story buildings at Fillmore and Centennial is that Penrose-St. Francis changed its mind.
       True, there's a new Old Colorado City “rejuvenation” effort afoot. A consultant has been hired, and some of the entities who don't always talk to each other are starting to. But the consultant is from Denver, agreement is lacking on key issues
Counting the years in photos... 2009: Displaying a "W" sign (for "Westside"), attendees enjoy the Westside Pioneer's five-year anniversary party, hosted by the Old Colorado City History Center.
Westside Pioneer photo
(such as two-laning the avenue), and there's been talk of a new OCC tax. I have my doubts.
       In a similar context, what's with all these modern, boxy structures being built all over the Westside? Where's the past pride in elegant architecture? The drive for a Westside historic overlay died nearly a decade ago. Why has no group sought to resurrect it - or at least to give the city the grief it deserves for utterly ignoring the Historic Design Guidelines that were specifically written for this side of town... and which the city helped pay for? I wrote an article on this subject a couple of years ago, but I might as well have told it to the wind.
       Maybe what it will take for the Westside to get its unique mojo back is some threat that everyone can share - like the city homeless coordinator following through on
Counting the years in photos... 2010: Volunteers (along with donated soil) create the Westside Community Center’s garden in one day.
Westside Pioneer photo
the idea he floated last year of turning the Westside Community Center into an overnight shelter.
       In the midst of such ruminations this winter, our younger son and his wife in Denver were starting to look for a house. He passed the bar exam last fall and got hired at a law firm. His wife has been employed for a few years with a communications company and is moving steadily up through its ranks. But the modern world being what it is, with housing prices skyrocketing, the two of them had to broaden their housing search as far south as Colorado Springs. But even here, housing prices have soared. Believe it or not, if you want something in the lower twos any more, you practically have to settle on a fixer-upper.
       And that's when the idea hit. To make a long story short, we offered to sell our house to Rioux and his wife (for a reasonable sum), and they accepted.
Counting the years in photos... 2011: A Rock Ledge Ranch junior docent gives a stilt demonstration outside the historic site’s Galloway Cabin.
Westside Pioneer photo

       It's the house he and Travers grew up in - and, not incidentally, where the Pioneer office was. Obviously, our family built up a fair share of memories there, and now Rioux can add more of his own.
       OK, you might say, that's a lovely family anecdote, but why couldn't you Jordans sell the Pioneer to some person or group to keep the paper going?
       Great question. After all, from a purely pragmatic standpoint, the paper has become a viable business product. We could theoretically have parlayed it into beaucoup bucks.
       Such a strategy would have made perfect sense if the Pioneer were a retail store. Pocket the profit and head for Tahiti.
       But our situation is different. Just because we're ending the paper doesn't mean it's dead to us. As a matter of fact, it's pretty darn personal, as I think I intimated above. Furthermore, we know of no person or entity who could or would run it
Counting the years in photos... 2012: Veterans hold their salutes at the groundbreaking ceremony for the since-opened Floyd K. Lindstrom VA out-patient clinic at Fillmore and Centennial.
Westside Pioneer photo
even close to the way we have.
       But you know what? Even if the “perfect buyers” had materialized, we still wouldn't have sold the paper to them.
       Why? Because there's no guarantee it wouldn't eventually be sold again and wind up in the hands of some Big Media rag like the Gazette or the Independent. Both of them have already scooped up most of the region's formerly unaffiliated community papers. A Gazette executive even called us a few years ago, asking if we were interesting in selling. I ended the conversation with a single word: “No.”
       Maybe that sounds a little arrogant. It's just that, as insignificant as our work may have been and as quickly as it may be forgotten (“Who wants yesterday's papers?” as the Rolling Stones once sang), we'd like it at least to have its own clean memory.
       To that end, our archived articles will continue to be posted at westsidepioneer.com (our website). Also, the Pikes Peak Library District has all
Counting the years in photos... 2013: Dancers with Ballet Folklorico perform in front of the Old Colorado City Library.
Westside Pioneer photo
our print editions. Future researchers might find some use in them, if only to see where a building was or what the weather was like on a given day. A few people may peruse them for pictures of family members or friends. I may look back too, if I start forgetting where those 15 years went.
       I have zero objection if a newspaper with a different name shows up and starts covering the Westside. That's freedom of the press.
       If it does happen, I wish them luck. They'll need it. The communication world isn't what it used to be. Not only are printers harder to find, but massive human-behavior changes are being wrought by social media and smartphones. Once, it was a big deal when a newspaper covered a major event. People would wait eagerly to “read all about it.” Now half the people at an event take their own pictures (even video) and have them posted on Facebook, Nextdoor or a host of
Counting the years in photos... 2014: Clint Chartier rears his horse at Territory Days.
Westside Pioneer photo
other social media sites, with back-and-forth comments already hot and heavy, long before a news reporter can make it back to his or her desk.
       In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the Pioneer's replacement, as such, doesn't wind up being something like Nextdoor. It doesn't have journalists or any semblance of objectivity, but it does have the freshness of raw observation and opinion, and that's got to count for something against the non-stop wave of politically correct official-ese.
       In any case, one thing is certain: News will keep happening. As I sidle toward the door, I can at least share with you some of what to expect.
       Scheduled this year (finally!) is the completion of the costly and complex Westside Avenue Action Plan project through 1½ miles of the former No Man's Land west
Counting the years in photos... 2015: Demolition of the old Fillmore/I-25 bridge makes room for the new interchange.
Westside Pioneer photo
of 31st Street. It involves a lot of improvements, including the Adams Crossing Bridge, whose naming - a recognition of the way that location has been known for well over a century - we helped fight for. But cross your fingers that the project's two-laning doesn't lead to gridlock or the Ridge Road plaza to a loafers' hangout.
       Ditto concerns for the Bancroft Park project, starting in February, including a self-cleaning restroom right on Colorado Avenue.
       Camp Creek through the Garden of the Gods and Rock Ledge Ranch is due for significant flood-control work this year. As for the Pleasant Valley neighborhood,
Counting the years in photos... 2016: Construction of the new Chestnut Street bridge (just north of Vondelpark Drive), The previous bridge had collapsed in August 2015, closing the road until November 2016. The $2.9 million project included a pedestrian underpass.
Westside Pioneer photo
the creek's concrete “ditch”is still on the books for a facelift someday. That's one thing that hasn't changed since we started our newspaper.
       In 2020, 30th Street is to be rebuilt north of Fontanero Street, including a large roundabout at Gateway Road. There'll be a widening too, though only to make room for bicycles and breakdowns.
       By 2021, the Centennial Boulevard extension south to Fontanero is supposed to be built.
       Around 2024, when the West Junior building (now a middle/elementary school) reaches its 100-year mark, District 11 has it tentatively slated for a major renovation.
       Heaven only knows when that Highway 24 expansion will happen. The plan's been on the shelf for seven years. But a pavement resurfacing is planned this
Counting the years in photos... 2017: Early work on the Adams Crossing Bridge for the Westside Avenue Action Plan project.
Westside Pioneer photo
summer, along with a much-needed lengthening of Highway 24's westbound left at 21st Street.
       That's about all I have on the Westside's future... although I think I can safely predict more infill of its once-vast acres of open land. I know, it's private property, new homes are needed, and we do have tons of public open space over here. I guess it's just the feel of it. Old-timers know what I mean.
       Anyway, let me wrap this up. Overall, as Therese and I put the brakes on our news “train,” we have no real regrets - except the aforementioned part about
Counting the years in photos... 2018: Jackson Elementary celebrates its 50th anniversary with student artwork and the school song.
Westside Pioneer photo
leaving you Westsiders in the lurch.
       Again, we're sorry, but you can think of it this way: This outcome is really no different than if we had gotten carried off gloriously on our shields.
       It's been a good 15 years, all things considered. Therese and I didn't make a million bucks, but we never expected to. I've never felt such delight as when people would come up and thank us, saying it seemed like “their” newspaper. This, in a time when most news media are detested!
       With so many people we've come to know, it would have been impossible - and too painful - to say good-bye individually to everyone. Printing a farewell edition seemed like the best alternative. By the time you read this, we'll already be gone. On a new train (at least for us). To a destination I've faintly heard of, called Retirement.
       While we still can.
       So long.

(Business: Changes)

If you would you like to respond to this column, you may do so at info@westsidepioneer.com.