Hundreds gather to celebrate I-M anniversary
ELKINS — Hundreds of residents came out to enjoy the food and fun of an outdoor celebration of the 125th anniversary of The Inter-Mountain Saturday along with local officials and Gov. Jim Justice.
“I congratulate the paper,” Justice told those in attendance Saturday on the grounds of The Inter-Mountain’s operating facilities in downtown Elkins. “I congratulate Ogden Nutting. I congratulate all you people who have been with the paper forever.”
Later in his remarks the governor added, “For 125 years this paper has got the word out. … I love Elkins, I love this area.”
About 450 people attended the event, enjoying the clear blue skies, free chicken lunches prepared by the Lions Club of Elkins and a performance by the West Virginia Highlanders of Davis & Elkins College.
Publisher Steve Herron welcomed the crowd, saying, “Before Facebook, before the World Wide Web, before TV, before radio, communication was done by word of mouth and newspapers. Newspapers have stood the test, and remain the most trusted source of communication today.
“Thanks to you, our trusted readers, and our valued marketing partners in business, we are here to celebrate our 125 years of service to the region.”
“Not many businesses can say they produce a different product every single day, but we can and we do, and that’s what makes our job so much fun, and in many instances, such a challenge,” he said.
Herron acknowledged former Inter-Mountain publishers Don Smith and Heather Goodwin Henline, and former editor Linda Howell Skidmore, as well as the many other former employees in attendance Saturday.
He also introduced all the current Inter-Mountain employees, including Production Manager Dave Ickes, the longest-tenured current employee.
Justice said the strength of The Inter-Mountain has been its workers.
“I’ve seen it over and over again at different businesses, I’ve seen it at the Greenbrier and other places,” Justice said. “When people are there at an organization for years and years and years, it’s so meaningful.”
“We love our state, we absolutely are proud of our state and I’m proud of you,” the governor said.
Elkins Mayor Van Broughton read a proclamation declaring July 15 as The Inter-Mountain Day in Elkins and congratulated the paper on its anniversary.
Delegate Bill Hartman, D-Randolph, led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, after an opening prayer by the Rev. Raymond Godwin of St. Brendan Catholic Church.
Other dignitaries attending the event included Circuit Judge David Wilmoth, Senior Status Judge John Henning, Delegates Hartman and Phil Isner, Randolph County Sheriff Mark Brady, Randolph County Magistrate Rob Elbon, County Commissioners Mike Taylor and Mark Scott, Elkins City Councilmembers Charles Friddle, Gene Ochsendorf and Linda Vest, former state Sen. Mike Ross and former County Commission President, Elkins Mayor and Randolph County Sheriff Willard Herron.
Justice told the crowd he was quite fond of the Elkins area.
” I’ve spent a lot of time in Elkins… You’re really a blessed people, to live in a blessed community,” the governor said. “You’ve got a real future, and you’ve got a governor who truly loves you and doesn’t want a thing. I don’t want a thing in the world for me.”
Other local dignitaries also took the opportunity to congratulate The Inter-Mountain on its anniversary Saturday.
“This is a great event and it’s a great day for the community,” Hartman said before the ceremony began. “Newspapers are so important for democracy, and I want to congratulate The Inter-Mountain on 125 years. That’s a tremendous accomplishment.”
“I think newspapers are vital to our way of government, and The Inter-Mountain has been vital to our community for 125 years,” Taylor said. “You can see that by how many people are here today. This is a tremendous event.”
Ross noted one of the first documents he ever read as a child was a copy of The Inter-Mountain,
“I congratulate The Inter-Mountain on 125 years of service,” Ross said. “It’s always been an important part of this community, and you can tell what it’s meant to the community by the turnout here today. It’s a great event and I’m very happy to be here to celebrate it.”
Saturday’s activities offered former employees the chance to reconnect and reminisce about their days at The Inter-Mountain.
“It’s just great to get back and see all the people,” said Smith, who served as the paper’s editor for several years before being named publisher. “It was great being here because I worked with some of the best people and everyone cared about the community. And the good thing is — and today shows it — the community cares about the newspaper. We tried to be part of the community and support it and in turn they supported the paper.
“Today was fun, but it was a little sad, too,” Smith noted. “Jim Hoffman’s not here, Shirley Minear’s not here, John Mallow’s not here, so as time goes by we’ve lost some of those great people at The Inter-Mountain, sadly, but the facility looks great and the paper’s still a huge part of the community.”
“For 125 years, Elkins and the surrounding communities have relied upon The Inter-Mountain as the No. 1 source for local news,” said Henline, who was at the helm as publisher when The Inter-Mountain won the 2014 Newspaper of the Year Award, the West Virginia Press Association’s top prize. “To be a part of that living history book was an honor. I had the privilege of sharing nearly seven years leading the paper as its publisher and general manager, the first female to serve in that capacity.
“What makes me most proud is The Inter-Mountain always has been able to blaze trails, while creating positive change through news coverage, editorial advocacy and community service,” she said. “That’s quite a legacy and one of which I am honored to have played a part. The Inter-Mountain remains a vibrant, vital news source, and I look forward to celebrating the paper’s future milestones.”
Former editor Skidmore and former reporter Mary McMahon spoke fondly about longtime editor Eldora Nuzum, who was the first female editor of a daily newspaper in the state.
“All the years I spent as a reporter for The Inter-Mountain I worked for Eldora Nuzum, who was a very demanding editor, but putting out a good paper was her absolute goal every day,” McMahon said. “And she was a good friend. You knew she was your friend even when you were under pressure to meet the deadlines.”
“Mary was a reporter when I first started working here as a reporter and we were both working for Eldora,” Skidmore said. “It was a very energized atmosphere. We didn’t have cellphones, or email or the internet. When Eldora wanted a story, that meant you had to track down that person.
“In those days you couldn’t call them on their cellphone or text them. So if they weren’t in their office or they weren’t at home, you had to get in your car and drive around town to find them,” she said. “I can remember when the late Dale Kelly was the police chief, I had to get some information from him and I couldn’t find him. I drove all over town and finally found him in Kroger buying bread for the inmates in the city jail. It was harder to gather information in those days.”
Saturday’s event also featured free desserts, special giveaways and pressroom tours.
Jamie Ross, Byrd’s House of Donuts, Masterpiece Rentals and Aaron’s of Elkins provided support for the event. WDNE offered a live remote broadcast from the site. Dr. Gloria Payne provided special flowers for the anniversary.