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OBSERVING HISTORY: Not Your Father’s Observer


February 8, 2012 by Steve Winkler

The Jan. 28, 1988 edition of the Washington County Observer cost a quarter for ten cram packed pages. The editor for that issue was Robert J. Caudle, publisher was Parker D. Rushing. Judy Tiller was the business/ advertising manager, Judy Housley was the office/production manager and Dick Steffes, was the circulation manager.

Front page headlines pointed to a story on the progress of the solid waste incinerator that was being considered for construction in Fayetteville. The project was controversial and eventually rejected by voters.

A front page photo by Judy Tiller showed the SpeDee Mart store on Hwy. 71 in about the same stage of construction as the new Dollar General store building is now.

Another page one story reported on progress being made on the Washington County History Book project and requested submission of church histories.

“…[it] will be the first county history of its kind to be published since the Goodspeed’s history of Washington County published in 1889. It will include a 400-page section of county history written by Joe Neal, [read Joe’s column in this issue of the Observer] special sections for church histories, school histories, including the University of Arkansas; organizations histories and business and professional profiles.”

The Book was printed and a copy is in local libraries.

Other page one stories reported on a nationwide increase in seat belt use and improvements to Hwy. 71.

Community involvement in collecting and reporting news and happenings around the area is evident in the old paper.

The schools all had their own sections with their own editors and staff. There was “News Around the Dome,” Squirrel Chatter” and “Pirate Country” which included school news and photos provided by students.

Community news from around the area was written and submitted by a host of volunteer reporters. Velda Brotherton submitted the “Ozark Native Craft Report.” Winslow news came from Marlis Mugley. Dorotha Bilbrey reported on West Fork. Lillian Cur- tis, Geri Dennis and Edwin Wilson reported from Greenland, Sunset and Hazel valley respectively. Brentwood news came from Mazie Stonesifer. Bidville, which doesn’t get much attention these days, was covered by Voleta Robison. Tonya Hunt and Barbara Stout reported from Goshen and Elkins respectively.

That’s not all.

Georgia Goodgion covered the Winslow news Ms. Mugley evidently overlooked. Mildred LaRue did Mt. Burg and Bonnie Paschal covered White House and Ruby M. Reed wrote “Across Mt. Gaylor.

The Jan. 28, 1988 issue had two editorials, one by the editor, and one by Floyd Carl, Jr. We counted six letters to the editor in that is- sue. Pastor Randy Burris wrote the religion column.

In the years since 1988 we have seen the people’s connection to their community via newspapers decline. The internet, Facebook and other social media along with online ser- vices like Craigslist have cut deeply into the revenue newspapers need to help bind a community together.

The Observer wants you to enjoy the best of both worlds; old fashioned paper and ink as well as that new-fangled digital delivery.

We hope you’ll consider subscribing and also visiting our website, www.wcobserver. com.

Steve Winkler

Steve Winkler is the publisher and editor of the Observer. Email him at

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