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SUN reaches the century mark

With the printing of this edition of The SUN, this newspaper joins a select group — Colorado newspapers 100 years old and older, based on the years and weeks in publication.

The first edition of The Pagosa Springs SUN was printed on Dec. 3, 1909.

The SUN was preceded by several community newspapers. The names and owners of the earliest of those papers is unknown.

Prior to the creation of The SUN, the first regularly published and successful newspaper in Archuleta County was The Pagosa Springs News. It was created by Daniel L. Egger in 1890 and he continued to publish the newspaper until 1899 with co-owner Arnold Reef.

Egger is also said to have published a short-lived newspaper in 1907 — The Herald.

L.W. Smith started a newspaper in 1899, The Weekly Times, touting it as “The only Republican paper in the County” and as the “Official County Paper.” Smith continued with the Times until it merged with The Observer in 1904 — a paper created in 1903 by D.L. Egger. Egger and Fred Rockfellow ran the Times-Observer and Egger stayed with the enterprise until 1908.

In 1905, Charles Day published the Pagosa Springs New Era and continued doing so until 1933.

The New Era also proudly claimed to be “The only Republican Paper in the County.”

On Dec. 3, 1909, the Pagosa Publishing Company was formed and began printing a new paper — The Pagosa Springs SUN — under the direction of the editor, W.J. Wright. That paper was destined to outlive its competition.

Wright proclaimed the new publication to be, “Devoted to The Interest of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County,” and noted “it is our purpose to run a live, legitimate newspaper, and hope by honest methods, square dealing and fair treatment to all to merit the support and patronage of the public.”

Wright didn’t stay long. He was gone by May of 1910, at which time the Pagosa Publishing Company took over day-to-day operation of the newspaper.

William Borland arrived as editor in May 1911, promising “determination to give the people of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County a newspaper of which they may be justly proud; always fair and just, bearing malice toward none and giving to our subscribers the news of the country and state in plain English in our own natural, fearless manner. The political aspect of this paper is to remain the same, always strictly republican.”

Borland was gone in three months time.

Two weeks after his departure, Borland was succeeded by LeRoy Wright, who remained until March 1912, when G.S. Hatcher, of the Pagosa Publishing Company, took charge of the editorial work.

A week after that, the revolving door spun again and the operation was leased to W.S. Betzer, who noted “The SUN will remain Republican under our control.”

Betzer’s control lasted a mere two months, at which time the newspaper was purchased by W.E. Furrow.

Furrow immediately changed the partisan political character of The SUN — 180 degrees. He wrote: “I will announce that politically The Pagosa Springs SUN from this date will be owned by a Democrat, edited by a Democrat and will from this issue be the organ of the Archuleta County Democratic organization and further announce that it will, at all times, be found supporting, to the best of its ability, the Democratic ticket from the National head down to precinct constable, and stand squarely for the principles enunciated by the Democratic, National, State and County platforms.”

Furrow sold The SUN in March of 1919. It was purchased by A.M. Emigh, who immediately leased it to J.A. Wiseman.

Wiseman remained editor for five months.

In August 1919, a new editor arrived — Reef Egger, son of D.L Egger. Egger introduced his editorial policies to readers as “General Order from HEADQUARTERS, The Pagosa Springs SUN.” The quality of the paper improved during Egger’s tenure, which lasted until his death in January 1935.

In May 1935, Fred Bradshaw took over as publisher of The SUN, with John Durham as editor. Like many of The SUN’s editors, Durham did not remain at the job long, leaving in January 1936. Two more editors worked for Fred Bradshaw — Richard Hays and John O. Keenan. Bradshaw sold The SUN to Omar R. Henderson in October 1938. Henderson proved to be one of the longer-lasting owners of the publication.

Henderson’s political policies differed from many of his predecessors, and his attitude signalled an attitude that would persist.

Henderson wrote in his first editorial, “The SUN will continue to build for the future of the community ... it will not practice the crusading type of journalism, neither will it act as a reform institution ... Politically, The SUN will be independent. However, the publisher is not hidebound; we harbor no prejudices; we have no bricks to heave and no axe to grind. We believe everyone would rather be right than wrong and that mistakes are misfortunes, not crimes.”

Henderson remained at The SUN for seven and a half years.

In March 1946, M.B. (Jerry) Sheridan purchased The SUN and in August 1948, he sold the newspaper to Glen Edmonds.

Edmonds’ policy? “Independent in everything — Neutral in nothing.”

“The SUN will endeavor to print all news impartially,” Edmonds wrote, “and without regard to any faction. It will not be a party organ, and the Editor has no private axe to grind. In the event private opinions are expressed they will be in an editorial column and not in news columns. We feel it is the responsibility of a newspaper to call the attention of its readers to various events and matters and shall do so.”

Edmunds changed the look of the paper, enlarging it and carrying more local news. He remained at the paper for nearly 33 years; his last working day was May 28, 1981.

The SUN was sold to a consortium, which hired John Motter as editor. The SUN was then purchased in 1981 by David C. Mitchell. Mitchell published and edited The SUN until his death in October 2002, following the practices and ideals of his mentor, Glen Edmonds. During Mitchell’s tenure at The SUN the size of the newspaper increased, its design underwent significant changes and its content remained solidly local and politically independent.

The SUN was sold to current owners Terri and Todd House in May 2003, and the newspaper has continued to evolve, both in its print form and in its growing Internet presence.

SUN publisher Terri House is mindful of the tradition she inherited with the purchase of The SUN, and is dedicated to extending that tradition, making the changes necessary to lead the newspaper into its second hundred years.

“A standard has been set by our predecessors,” said House, “and that standard rests on the idea that we must provide news of this community, and news pertinent to this community, in a fair and ethical manner, and also provide a sounding board for opinions on the things that matter to our readers. We will continue to strive to do this, at the same time that we make the transitions needed to keep The SUN at the forefront in a rapidly changing news environment. We have greatly increased our Internet presence and will continue to do so. At the same time, we will keep the tradition alive in print. This community has seen itself mirrored in the pages of The SUN for one hundred years, and we are dedicated to keeping that mirror intact and growing.”