A large inexperienced signal downtown says “Welcome to Mineral Wells: Home of Crazy.”
It’s not an insult to the town’s 15,000 residents. It’s a reference to the so-called “Crazy Water” that helped gas Mineral Wells’ heyday greater than a century in the past.
The metropolis was a spa vacation spot. Its mineral waters had been marketed to remedy a complete host of illnesses, and a newspaper popped as much as assist unfold the phrase.
The first version of the Mineral Wells Index rolled off the presses on May 5, 1900. The publishers joked of their opening message to readers that they’d no excuse for beginning the paper.
“Seeing an opening, we came, and are going to publish the news and herald the virtues of the Mineral Wells waters to the world,” they wrote. “To just what extent, depends entirely upon others. We are going to give the people the best paper possible consistent with the patronage.”
The patronage stored the paper going for the subsequent 120 years, however not even Crazy Water can do away with COVID-19.
In May, the now-former writer Lisa Chappell introduced the Index would shut, and the close by Weatherford Democrat would take over protection of Mineral Wells.
“The coronavirus pandemic has burdened businesses with steep losses in revenue. The Mineral Wells Index is no exception,” she wrote.
The newspaper trade was already struggling, and greater than 50 newspapers have shuttered because of the pandemic, in keeping with the Poynter Institute, a information trade watchdog. News organizations throughout the nation have furloughed or laid off reporters to take care of new monetary pressures.
David May labored on the Index for greater than 15 years. He was a common supervisor, editor and reporter, all of sudden, when it shut down.
“The Mineral Wells community couldn’t get that kind of sports or local news coverage anywhere else. And I don’t think they ever will again, frankly,” he said.
The staff had dwindled to four: May, a sports editor, a receptionist and an ad rep.
Still, May was surprised by the closure, which came as he was already preparing to leave for another job.
“Just before my two weeks’ notice was up, my publisher came in and told me the news that they decided to go ahead and merge with the Weatherford Democrat,” he said.
These closures and mergers have become more common since the internet monopolized the ad revenue newspapers rely on.
A recent study from the University of North Carolina found a quarter of American newspapers have disappeared since 2004.
And according to UNC, the Index was the last newspaper in all of Palo Pinto County.
An on-line publication known as Goodday Mineral Wells has popped up within the Index’s absence, and it’s looking for monetary backing by crowdfunding. Its founder, John L. Partesius, who additionally goes by Jonny Goodday, mentioned in a Facebook message that his workforce hopes to have a print version by January.
“We believe that local news is of extreme importance, and we are doing everything we can to try to keep it alive in the Palo Pinto County area,” he wrote.
Still, David May worries whether or not difficult authorities points will get the protection they warrant.
He additionally would not have a lot religion in social media filling the gaps.
“The rest of it’s being left to, you know, Facebook reporting warriors, and some of those people can’t even tell you what time it is looking at their watch,” May said.
One study from 2018 found voters have less influence when there’s no news source keeping local politicians accountable to their constituents.
Mineral Wells City Council member Beth Watson worries people won’t be as involved in city government without the Index to summarize what’s going on.
“Some of those conferences are actually boring. Let’s simply name them what they’re,” she mentioned.
The metropolis didn’t simply lose the paper. It additionally misplaced a journalist with a long time of expertise.
Watson mentioned David May’s newspaper protection helped facilitate dialog — and even griping.
“He was almost his own character in the little local dramas,” she said. “We’re missing that thing for people to complain about.”
The Index additionally will not be round to chronicle a plan to revitalize Mineral Wells.
The grand outdated Baker Hotel, constructed for mineral water vacationers within the Twenties, towers over downtown. It’s been shuttered and decaying for many years, nevertheless it’s lastly present process renovation, and it may assist the town change into a vacationer vacation spot once more.
Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Raymond Greenwood mentioned it ought to be up and operating in a pair years.
“A lot of the local stores or businesses have either expanded and/or improved. Some of the vacant buildings are now housing new businesses in anticipation of visitors and growth two years from now,” he mentioned.
There are indicators of life in downtown Mineral Wells. Right by the massive Crazy signal is the Market at 76067, a stylish retail area that options clothes and residential decor.
On a current afternoon, Mineral Wells resident Connie Upshaw was searching by the shop’s knickknacks. She mentioned the town misplaced a part of its id when it misplaced the Index.
“The things that are happening in the town, and showing off the kids, what they won at school, and the teams, and — just a community that you lose when you lose your paper,” she said.
Upshaw knows the Weatherford Democrat has a Mineral Wells section, but she doesn’t subscribe.
“It’s more about Weatherford,” she said.
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