Paper’s founders built a strong foundation
Dec 01, 2016 | 2355 views | 0 0 comments | 263 263 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“We’re off!”

Those words were the headline across the top of the front page of the very first edition of what was then called the Mount Snow Valley News. That issue was published 50 years ago this week, on Friday, December 2, 1966.

In many ways, it’s hard to believe the “Valley News,” as most simply call it, has been around for half a century. But it’s true, and this week we’re celebrating that anniversary with a little fun on the front page, some retrospective articles, and this toast to the founding fathers, who decided 50 years ago the valley was in need of a newspaper to report on the life and times of its people.

Who were those founding fathers? Interestingly, it was the area’s biggest corporation at the time, the Mount Snow Development Company, that funded the launch of the paper. Mount Snow patriarch Walt Schoenknecht, ever the visionary, had to sign off on the paper. General manager Harvey Clifford also gave his blessing to the venture.

But it was public relations honcho Richard “Dick” McLernon who was the driving force behind the beginnings of the paper. He had been a newspaper man in the Navy, spending four years publishing ships’ newspapers. The original team included managing editor David Lyman, photographer Allan Seymour, and artist Sally Williams, who was soon to become Mrs. Allan Seymour.

That first eight-page edition featured a photo of snowmaking at Mount Snow, an outlook on the upcoming winter season, and a report on a record deer season just concluded. Featured prominently was an article by longtime reporter Ellen Reiss on a failed zoning ordinance vote in Dover. Other articles included a report on Judie’s Jazz Room by Silvia Sneed, a photo feature on new construction around the mountain that summer, and an editorial about “Expo 67,” the world fair about to be held in Montreal during the summer of 1967. That editorial chided officials in greater Vermont for neglecting the valley in marketing efforts to attract visitors to spend time in Vermont on their way to and from the Expo.

Some things just don’t change, and current editions of The Deerfield Valley News often have similar reports, editorials, and photos in them, albeit with different names and issues. Advertisers in that first edition included the 1836 Country Store, The Brook Bound Lodge, The Wilmington White House, and Mount Snow, all still in business today.

Lower down on the front page, the rationale for the paper’s birth was explained in two simple paragraphs:

“Since the publication of the valley’s last newspaper stopped some years ago, the area has been without a news, information, and advertising medium. It is the aim of the Mount Snow Valley News to fill this gap and to provide the valley residents and weekend visitors with a professionally written (and honestly edited) newspaper. The News, published twice a month with extra issues during the ski season’s peak weeks, will endeavor to present a fair reporting of the valley’s news: news that will be of interest to both skiers and residents alike, in addition to providing a medium for the businesses of the valley to advertise their products or services.

“The News, sponsored by the Mount Snow Development Corporation, welcomes your comments and suggestions and will endeavor to publish letters that have general interest, as well as any news items submitted.”

In many ways, those words still ring true in 2016 just as they did in 1966. There have been many changes over those years: color on pages, a bigger format, the Internet.

But at its core, The Deerfield Valley News continually strives to maintain that tradition of honest, professional journalism that was one of the cornerstones of the original mission of the paper.

We hope to continue that tradition for another 50 years, and well beyond.
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