“The Independent’s 125th birthday serves to remind us all of the powerful, enduring virtues of community journalism,” says editor Chris Rotar, and that’s exactly what H.V. Bullock was going for in 1888.
That’s the year Bullock took pen to paper and wrote, “Now that Littleton has a newspaper, let everyone strive to make her the most beautiful city in the Platte River valley. If you don’t, somebody else will. The day is long gone by for Littleton to slumber. Men with vim are coming in who will push things along.”
Then he took paper to printing press, and on July 21 of that year, Issue No. One of the Littleton Independent was born.
"For 125 years, the Independent has been the historical record of the life of Littleton and its people - its successes, challenges, joys, sorrows," says Colorado Community Media president and publisher Jerry Healey. "From the potluck to council actions to births, deaths and marriages, the paper has been a thread binding the community. We are caretakers of a grand tradition and exceptional privilege. With dedicated planning and community support, the Independent will continue to be the publication of record for its readers and a committed watchdog of its community."
Garrett Ray was the editor from the mid-1960s through the early 1980s. He and his wife, Nina, moved away after that, but returned 25 years later. He says though the city has grown and changed a lot since then, a lot has stayed the same, too.
“We are greatly pleased that Littleton and the Independent have retained so much of what made them special in the ‘old days’ — a strong and unique sense of community; citizens who work, speak up and occasionally scrap over their visions of what this community should be; and through it all, a sense of fun. The newspaper went through some hard years, but now it is again in the hands of people who truly care about news, integrity and Littleton. Congratulations, Jerry and Ann Healey, on your success in keeping this 125-year-old ‘kid’ such a valued part of our lives.”
John Brackney, president of the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, says the paper contributes much to the success of the greater Littleton area.
“Award-winning stories, attention to local personalities, key information about government, neighborhoods and businesses and, most importantly, an ongoing passion for the success of the community,” he said. “Congratulations to the Littleton Independent on 125 years of extraordinary service laying the foundation of success for the next 125 years.”
Much merriment is planned to mark the auspicious day over the next few weeks. The Independent will have a float in the Western Welcome Week Grand Parade for the first time in more than a decade, and the words “Extra, Extra” will resound along Main Street as old-timey paperboys distribute samples.
There’s a major party in the works for some time between Sept. 19 and Sept. 26 (details to follow), along with other community events and contests to thank Littleton residents for supporting their local paper.
And the Independent wants to hear from its readers over the next few weeks. Share a favorite memory — did you deliver it as a kid, or perhaps you were featured in a story? We’ll share a collection of your thoughts in the Sept. 26 issue.
“Over the years, I’ve been told that the Independent is the glue that holds the community together,” says Sonya Ellingboe, the arts and entertainment reporter who celebrated 25 years with the company this month. “I’m proud to be involved and wish it many, many more good years.”