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