The Highlander, formerly the Ben Lomond Courier, had stopped publishing. It was 1960, and the rainy season had begun in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Valley businesses such as Roy’s Market and Johnnie’s Super had no way to advertise their holiday specials. Schools had no place to list their holiday concerts. There were no other media.
Raymond Smith owned a small print shop in Felton. He saw a need, and an opportunity. With partner Vic McDonald, he decided to start publishing a newspaper.
“We feel so strongly [of] the absolute necessity of local representation that we have come forward to carry the ball,” he wrote on Dec. 2, 1960. “We shall do all in our power to carry the Valley news, reported in an un-biased and factual manner.”
The Valley Press was born. Or perhaps, hatched, as Smith suggested in a large photo on his first front page of a little chick exclaiming: “We’re New! Brand New!”
The first front page carried a column by the new publisher-editor, and headlined articles about “Active Felton Business Men Take Lead,” “SLV High School Ready With Auction,” and a “Stork Flash” about the birth of twins to Sgt. David Boynton, son of Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Boynton of Felton.
Less than two years later he sold the paper to Craig Robinson, who with his wife Leslie and their son and daughter moved to Ben Lomond. Leslie became choir director at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, and son John was a multi-sport athlete at SLV High.
Over the next decade, the San Lorenzo Valley grew steadily, a new city emerged four miles southeast, in Scotts Valley, and the Robinsons’ paper grew with it.
The news and advertising from the new city grew to the point that Robinson started a sister publication, the Scotts Valley Banner, in 1974. The Valley Press was named the official paper for legal advertising in the San Lorenzo Valley in 1962; the Banner secured that designation for Scotts Valley in 1975. The joint offices of the two newspapers would stay in Felton until 2002.
The Robinsons retained and built on Smith’s original vision of a community newspaper, adding photographs (taken by Robinson), columnists, even cartoonists over the years. As Smith had written in 1960: “Your meeting notices and reports of your social events, photographs of public interest, etc. will be welcomed. We are dedicated to publish the type of newspaper that will be welcome in everyone’s home.”
The Robinsons sold the papers to San Diego-based Scripps Newspapers in 1978. Craig Robinson stayed on as editor for a few months, and later helped in advertising sales. His dream was fulfilled, his legacy secure.
Scripps sold the papers in 1989 to veteran editor and Stanford grad Jack Fraser, who would sell them to Michael and Elaine Quinn in 1996. The Quinns sold the papers in 2000 to Carlon Perry of the Central Valley, who would sell them to the Matthews family of Tracy in 2005. Bob Matthews was publisher.
The Matthews family, which owned the Tracy Press, would combine the two papers into a single publication, the Press Banner, with separate front pages. Publication of a single edition began after the paper was sold in October 2012 to the new owners of the Tracy Press and Patterson Irrigator, Tank Town Media, owned by Ralph Alldredge and Will Fleet, former publisher of newspapers in Fresno and Southern California who was named California Newspaper Executive of the Year in 2013.
Many of our readers may remember some of the editors who followed Robinson in sustaining the mission and shaping the content over the years – Richard Palmer, Gregory Glover, Jack Fraser, Robin Musitelli, Willie King, Kingsley Gerlach, Carlon Perry, Jim Reed, Peter Burke, Joe Shreve and Suellene Peterson. Columnists added personality and continuity, beginning with 16 years of “Taking Aim” by Robinson, then Bill Kirkham, Annette Marcum, Willie King, and Britta Wilder King, to name a few; and our current columnists Mike Baxter, Dr. Terry Hollenbeck, Jan Nelson and Colly Gruczelak. They represent the collective voices of the “twin valleys,” as Scripps aptly called its publishing domain here.
On the opposite page you can see how the presentation of our names has evolved over the years. On today’s front page, in case you had not noticed, we unveil the latest version of the Press Banner logo. Our graphics designer Andy Boswell incorporated themes you will see in our earliest versions five decades ago: our beautiful mountains, trees, and sky. He added one element oddly missing from earlier versions – the river that defines our landscape and our watershed. The result is a “banner” (in newspaper terms) that evokes our surroundings and our traditions, and carries forward our historical names – Press and Banner – into our 57th publication year.
Our commitment to the vision of Ray Smith and Craig Robinson to serve our 40,000 readers in Scotts Valley and the communities of the San Lorenzo Valley is stronger than ever.
If any of you would like to share memories or reflections of your experiences with our newspapers over the years, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.