Dear Star Valley:
Thank you for 30 years. Three decades ago, my wife and I, along with our 15-month old toddler walked into to the offices of the Star Valley Independent. Big heavy wet snowflakes were falling, welcoming the first major storm of the winter season. This day was my wife’s 25th birthday, Oct 6, 1985. My Dad, Keith Dockstader had helped us unload our old couch, bed and dining room table into one of Dee Call’s apartments in Afton. The only person we had met at that time was the previous owner of the paper, Elray Titensor.
As a young 20-something couple we started a journey of service in what would become our beloved home, Star Valley, Wyoming. For many years, my wife and I worked together, along with a wonderful team of people. Irene Jepson, Sheli Stumpp, Eloyce Moffat and Julie Rich were there in the early years, along with a few others. Later that team transitioned to Patty Taylor, Josh Henderson, Paula Nield, Jana and Bill Bryant, Sarah Hale, Dahl Erickson, Wendy Hurd and most recently, Duke Dance, David Cazier and Aubrey Turner, as we have expanded the business to include radio. Plus, we can’t forget the countless youth who were hired for those late night and early morning newspaper collating and delivery sessions.
We have had perhaps two or three hundred young workers joining in the distribution of the paper over the years. The hours have been long, the work unrelenting and rigorous, as we have consistently put out 1,560 editions of the Star Valley Independent. The process has changed dramatically since those early days of preparing the paper on old typesetting machines and taking care of press runs at 2 a.m. Now it’s all a digital design process. The stories, producing the product and publishing the paper could fill a book.
To our valley neighbors, we have celebrated with you in times of success and grieved with you in the difficult and bitter times. Community journalism is unique. When we say we have shouted with joy and cried in grief with you, we mean it! The years have passed; three siblings joined that 18-month old toddler, Meagan. Aaron, Kaylen and Keiton Dockstader came along in the following years and all were quite literally raised in a newspaper office. In their younger years they slept at our feet in the office and in later years they completed their studies and worked as collators as we finished “getting the paper out.”
Over the years, with the help of a faithful and dedicated staff, we have rode the down turns in the economy, while celebrating the times when it improved. What a ride it has been! We have covered thousands of public meetings and events from Alpine to Smoot and beyond! This week, we’ll start on the 1,561st edition of the paper, but this time it’s mixed with radio and internet television broadcasting through SVI Media. Ultimately, we’ll do all of it with an extreme sense of gratitude that the Lord has blessed us with this valley home. And we’ll do it all with an attitude and approach of not just running a business, but serving our wonderful Star Valley neighbors. Thank You.
Dan and Kim Dockstader