ABOVE: The building that later came to be the home of the Village News is shown being reassembled in 2000 after it was moved to the Chester Village Green.
It’s been 20 years since the first pages of the Village News first came off the press. In those years, we have covered countless events and told numerous stories. But the story I like to tell the most is how we got our start.
As a 12-year-old boy during the summer of 1998, I watched my parents risk it all in an attempt to provide a better life for their family and fill a void in our community. At our dining room table, they began talking about a magazine for Chesterfield County.
I remember hearing the name “Life Between the Rivers.” It was more of an idea than a name at the time; nevertheless, it was a starting point.
Over the following weeks, they pivoted to a newspaper format centered around the Chester community. They dubbed it the Chester Village News.
And at that moment, the two with the strongest partnership I’ve known set off on another adventure together.
Mom had experience in advertising, so she worked the business end of things, and Pop was the creative one, so he took to the design, naturally. Both of them would generate the content as they each enjoyed the social side of chasing down a “lede.”
The first copies hit the street with Stan the Hotdog Man as the lead story Aug. 20, 1998.
Admittedly, it was far from a masterpiece and the Pulitzer committee wasn’t knocking down the door, but it was everything Chester and perfect for a community clinging to its small-town identity.
Over the next year, I watched Pop head out the door in the morning to his cabinet shop in Petersburg that was still paying the bills, only to come home in the evening to plop down at the dining table and pound away at the keyboard until midnight.
Meanwhile, Mom was out building the brand and scaring up business, not to mention managing the lives of three active and sometimes rebellious teenagers.
They got by, and it worked.
The Village News moved out of the dining room and planted its flag in the community.
Over 20 years, my parents poured their hearts and souls into this newspaper. They are too humble to admit it, but they made an irreplaceable impact on Chester and the surrounding communities.
Moreover, they made an impact on me as I learned the importance of community and significance of relationships.
So, when my parents decided to retire earlier this year, I knew that what they created was too valuable to our community to let it go.
The stories that have been told on these pages have informed our community, entertained our friends, and recorded our history.
From the profiles on Chester’s most treasured residents to the battles waged in the public meeting rooms, the Village News has been there, and we have tried our best to report the news as we saw it.
A lot of what we report is uplifting and inspiring, although some issues can be divisive. Still, we see it as our job to inform and ultimately to be the glue that holds the community together with the stories of our neighbors.
We may tell the stories, but it is the community that empowers us. It is the businesses that support us. And it is the readers that keep the ink fresh and the presses rolling.
As we look forward to the next 20 years, you can be assured that the Village News will always report on the news that happens right here in your backyard, because we are your community, your neighbors, and your news.
Thank you for these last 20 years and cheers to the next 20.