In My Opinion
Nashville celebrates 150 years
There’s a lot to celebrate when you turn 150 years old.
In 1869, the people who became the first residents of the official Village of Nashville would have taken note of the famous Golden Spike driven into a railroad tie May 10 at Promontory Summit, Utah, that united the country from coast to coast. They would still have been feeling the pain of the Civil War when, on Feb. 15, charges of treason against Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, were dropped and, a month later, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, the man they elected to be president of the United States, was inaugurated.
Reflecting on the past is a big part of the celebrations, anniversaries and holiday customs that have become a part of our country’s cultural tradition. Events like what’s coming up in grand style this weekend in Nashville remind us of our heritage. We celebrate who we are; we reinforce the joy that comes from the values we’ve formed and that continue to bind us together as a community.
“Nashville hasn’t seen anything like this before,” said Kermit Douse, chairman of the sesquicentennial committee that has been working for over two years on the celebration that will get underway Friday and continue through Sunday with a parade, all kinds of food, a chance to beat the world record for longest kickline challenge and so much more.
Nashville also will be welcoming the Barry County Chamber’s annual Brewfest, offering 87 different craft beers, wines, hard ciders, meads and cocktails from 22 breweries. Since its beginning four years ago, the chamber has been moving Brewfest around the county in an effort to bring visitors to some of our smaller communities to showcase what they have to offer. There also will be lots of music, an ice cream social, pancake breakfast, pie auction, fireworks and everything you would expect to see in small-town America. It’s going to be a weekend full of fun, and a great chance to renew old acquaintances and meet new people. Look in last weekend’s Reminder or Maple Valley News for a complete listing of the events and times.
Nashville is actually one of many communities celebrating a sesquicentennial this year. Corunna, Muskegon, Portland, South Haven and Wayne also will be taking time to revisit the past and celebrate their successes.
When all of these communities were formed, Michigan was just 32 years old. Statehood was established Jan. 26, 1837, after then-President Thomas Jefferson first created the Michigan Territory Jan. 11, 1805.
Among the institutions and traditions to be celebrated this weekend will be another anniversary: The 147th year of the Nashville News, later Maple Valley News, and its continuous service to the area. Orno Strong, a slightly built 19-year-old from Lawton, who became an outspoken crusader for community growth, started the Nashville News in 1872. He ran the paper until 1888 when he sold it to employee Len W. Feighner, who continued to publish the paper for the next 40 years while simultaneously serving as Nashville’s postmaster and then going on to become a state legislator.
Like his predecessor, Feighner used the paper to promote community improvement. Four other publishers, A.B. McClure, Willard Gloster, Donald Hinderliter and John Boughton, owned the paper from the time Feighner sold the weekly in 1928 until J-Ad Graphics purchased it from Boughton in 1975. The Nashville News combined with the Vermontville Echo under Boughton’s leadership when it became known as the Maple Valley News. Today, the publication continues to play an important role in the community, serving both Nashville and Vermontville and the surrounding area. In fact, it was a treasure chest of information for the committee looking for the history of the community, which was captured and chronicled each week since its beginning.
Over the years, communities like Nashville depended on their local newspapers for all of the local news. And even today, with the addition of the internet, social news and websites, the best place to find out what’s really going on in a community is the local newspaper. Today’s J-Ad Graphics publications concentrate on local content, the school board, township and village government. We keep our readers informed on local news and sports, clubs, and anniversaries and, of course, the passing of our friends and relatives. These are all news and events that only your local newspaper gathers to keep readers informed today – and for years to come.
The important issue about news isn’t how you receive it, whether it’s in printed form, on a cellphone or via a laptop. The biggest issues are who’s gathering the information and us the source reliable.
In today’s marketplace, there’s a growing problem with unfiltered content, little or no research, that fills the networks where readers get distorted information. Anyone can create a story where lots of people can read it on the internet, but local newspapers do the necessary research to make sure it’s not “fake news,” information that’s filled with emotion or hearsay. If it’s in our publications, we’ve done the research or it doesn’t run.
We also do our best to provide a readable newspaper people look forward to reading each week so that our advertisers get the results they seek.
I received a call the other day from our state association of community newspapers, letting me know that a publisher from Breckenridge decided to close his publication after 70 years due to poor health and the loss of local advertising.
As a publisher, I’ve witnessed what happens to a community after its local newspaper closes: A community loses the oversight of its local government and the ability to promote events. It no longer has the glue that holds a community together and, once that’s gone, it rarely returns.
So, as we celebrate Nashville’s 150th, we also are proud to celebrate 147 years of continuous publication of the Maple Valley News by serving our local readers with the local information that takes a great deal of effort to produce each week, and the hope we can continue to do so for years to come – right into a bicentennial celebration.
Fred Jacobs, CEO,
J-Ad Graphics Inc.