For those longtime fans of Crescenta Valley Weekly, you probably noted the change on the cover: Vol. V, Issue 1. Translated, this means volume five, issue one – the first issue of the fifth year. Yes, we are celebrating our fourth anniversary this week.
It is so hard to believe that just four years ago, we – writers Mary O’Keefe and Charly Shelton, designer Lucy Corona and I – gathered around my kitchen table to pull together the very first issue of the Crescenta Valley Weekly. The CV Weekly was born from the death of the Crescenta Valley Sun, the sister paper of the La Cañada Valley Sun (which still hits the streets in La Cañada every Thursday morning). I was editor of the CV Sun and after it was purchased and subsequently closed, I came home and told my husband Steve that I wanted to start a newspaper. Ever the pragmatist, Steve said, “Rob, we have enough money for a new kitchen or a newspaper. What’s it going to be?”
Well, let’s face it: I have the ugliest kitchen in La Crescenta but, in my opinion, the very best newspaper. And, thankfully, after four years, I’m not alone in that assessment (about the newspaper, not the kitchen).
I hope you’ll indulge me while I travel down Memory Lane for a minute.
Let me make it clear that I never wanted to own my own business again. Steve and I owned Crescenta Valley Cable Television back in the ’80s and it was exhausting and worrisome. We were always the last ones to be paid, the ones who worried about OSHA, workers’ comp and payroll. In nine years, we never had a vacation aside from visiting my cousins in Arizona over Thanksgiving.
After we sold the cable company in 1990, I vowed that I would never own my own business again. But then in 2009 the local paper where I was editor closed. I knew that was a mistake. So I came home and pitched the idea to Steve (one of the smartest men you could ever meet) about starting the CV Weekly. We crunched the numbers and came to the conclusion that this crazy idea could work.
I quietly began searching for everything from a printer (American Foothill in Tujunga) to a designer … while the economy tanked.
And as I worried about what I would do to fill the pages of that first issue, two huge things occurred: Mary O’Keefe quit her job at a competing newspaper and the Station Fire broke out.
Mary and I worked together at the Valley Suns and when I learned that she had quit her job, I quickly asked her if she would consider working for the start-up newspaper I was planning to launch. (Apparently she has a gambling streak and said yes.)
I was able to find a talented designer in Lucy Corona and Charly Shelton was available to write. As we prepared for the first issue to hit the streets on Sept. 3, 2009, the Station Fire broke out on Aug. 28. After being evacuated three times from my house due to the fire, we regrouped at Mary O’Keefe’s house south of Foothill and worked on that first issue. A bit of trivia: that first issue actually hit the streets on Friday, Sept. 4. Too many of our streets were closed due to the fire and we had to hold off a day to distribute the paper, the only time the paper was distributed other than a Thursday.
From there, the rest is (as they say) history. Photographer Leonard Coutin helped us from day one, donating his talent. Lisa Yeghiayan, our prized sales rep, said she’d sell ads. And the community, our loyal readers, embraced us immediately. From the time the paper hit the driveways of Crescenta Valley, folks sent in $52 to guarantee home delivery – and to support the dream of their neighbor.
CV Weekly has grown over the last four years and we’ve expanded our products to include Discover magazine and The Finest, the annual poll that reflects our readers’ choices as to the finest in a variety of services.
In closing, I offer a heartfelt thanks to everyone who made this possible. As we come out of the worst recession experienced in America, I am excited to find out what year five holds for us.