Commentary: Add another candle, 65 in all, to our birthday cake

Sixty-five years ago this week, the first issue of The Verde Independent was published.

Richard "Dick" Brann had purchased all the parts of an unassembled flatbed press scattered in a basket from the Holbrook Tribune. He purchased the building materials for the quonsethut as part of a government surplus after World War II.

The newspaper was located "way out in the country," south of the cemetery. This was more than a decade before Cottonwood would incorporate. There were no zoning ordinances, but the area in which the newspaper was located was taking shape as an industrial park. A sawmill operated by the Peterson brothers was located "down the road."

Over time, Cottonwood would grow and its commercial center would shift in the direction the newspaper is still located at today at 116 S. Main St. The original "quonsethut" with its river rock foundation still exists.

John Bell was the architect of many of the most important technological advances the newspaper made over the past six decades. Bell operated the newspaper's first offset press and introducing VI readers to photojournalism. Bell made the newspaper's first camera by taking an 8-and-one-half-inch lens out of a portrait camera, and boxing it in with wood.

Co-owner and Editor Bill Cameron gave the newspaper a reputation for reliable news and thought-provoking editorials. Mr. Cameron championed the incorporation of Cottonwood, getting State Route 279 travelable in order for the Verde Valley to gain access to the Black Canyon Highway and, an issue that's still with us today, school district consolidation. Mr. Cameron was extremely skilled at his craft. The writing was exquisite. His advice and guidance represented extremely wise counsel mixed in with good-old fashioned common sense.

Former longtime owners Marty and Joyce Marten brought the newspaper into the modern age, ushering in the use of computers for the editorial department, zoned editions for Camp Verde and Sedona, and enlarging the newspaper from the tabloid format to standard-size pages.

Under the ownership of Western Newspapers, Inc., and the Soldwedel family, longtime publisher Dick Larson made the newspaper a catalyst of community service by helping establish such events as Verde River Days and the Verde Valley Senior Fair.

Today, the newspaper has evolved into a multi-media information and advertising service. Our online products, and, provide the community, and the world, with local news updates daily. In addition to our flagship product, The Verde Independent, we also publish The Bugle in Camp Verde, Kudos in Sedona, and The Villager in the Village of Oak Creek.

The Verde Independent has grown and changed with the Verde Valley.

It's a privilege to live and work in such a wonderful place.

It's an honor to serve such a fine community.


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