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Community newspaper continues dedicated service

by | Mar 22, 2023 | Latest

It was 75 years ago that Paul Stimson first published The Wylie News on March 19, 1948.

However, the first copy in the News’ archives still in existence is the second edition, dated March 26, 1948.

Stimson’s lead story in that edition was an announcement that prominent McKinney attorney, Roland Boyd, would speak at the Wylie Lions Club’s regular meeting. His topic: optimism on Wylie’s economic future due to the development of the Lavon Lake reservoir.

The March 26 issue also included information about the organization of The Wylie Development Company on Feb. 5 of that year.

Also making the news was the opening of the Wil-Bar Grill, current site of Ballard Street Café, on Thurs. March 27. Operators Farrell Williams and Jo LaBarba state that the restaurant would “serve only the very best of meals at the most reasonable prices.”

Annual subscription rates for in-county delivery were $1.50 and out of county were $1.75. Single copy price was just five cents.

The paper continued under the leadership of Stimson for a short time until it was sold to Burton Fielder, who name first appeared on the paper’s flag on Nov. 11, 1948.

An announcement in The Wylie News’ second issue thanks businesses who advertised in the first issue of the paper.

Fielder, a Farmersville businessman who operated that town’s funeral home, published The Wylie News until May 28, 1953.

Fielder was quick to announce local athletic events and results of on the front page and used the motto “No City Has Greater Opportunities for Advancement Than Wylie” under the News masthead.

It was during this ownership that construction of the Wylie-Plano Farm-to-Market Road began, now known as FM 544.

On June 4, 1953, local school teacher Joe Rabb was named editor of the paper. Shortly thereafter, three local businessmen; Rex A. Housewright, Weldon McClure and C. Truett Smith, each acquired a partnership interest in the publication. Rabb continued as editor until Feb. 16, 1956.

In Feb. 1956, it was reported that members of the News traveled to the Texas Press Associations’ mid-winter convention in Amarillo. The paper was awarded first place in editorial writing and third place in the general excellence category.

The motto, “Serving Collin County’s Fastest Growing City,” graced the masthead during this year.

The three men continued their venture for several years and on Aug. 20, 1959, incorporated the newspaper as The Wylie News, Inc.

Rabb returned to the paper during this transition and again became editor, as well as president of the corporation.

Directors were Housewright, vice-president; Mrs. Minor Housewright, secretary-treasurer; and Smith. McClure continued as chief of mechanical and production.

The publication also announced its transition to offset printing in Sept. 1959, state-of-the-art equipment of the time.

On Aug. 20, 1959, the paper was registered with the local post office as a 2nd class publication and began distribution via mail, as well as on the local news racks.

The paper finally had to raise its rates for annual subscriptions in Jan. 1961. In-county rates were increased to $2 a year for home delivery and $2.50 for out of county subscriptions.

It was during Oct. 1961 that the paper changed from a brief stint as a tab to its broadsheet format.

The News was again recognized for its strong commitment to journalism by the TPA, this time at the summer convention in 1964.

The paper took second place in the general excellence category and fourth place in column writing during the convention.

A new editor, Tom Tompkins, 34, was named to the newspaper on March 24, 1966. Tompkins, according to the paper, was a native of Beckville, Panola County, Tx.

He had been editor of the White Settlement Tribune and West Side Leader in Ft. Worth.

The mailing address at that time was noted as 114 N. Ballard.

It was on Feb. 5, 1970, that C. Truett Smith’s “Wandering Around Wide Awake Wylie,” made its way from the front to the inside pages of the newspaper.

A noteworthy occurrence was reported by the staff on Jan. 7, 1971. Bob Smith earned a Katy Award for best portfolio from the Dallas Press Club.

During this year, resident Beb Fulkerson became a regular with readers’ morning coffee, writing various columns, including Beb’s Blabbers.

Bob Smith gained even more notoriety in August of that year with a mention of his photojournalism contributions on the regional and national level. Smith, featured in trade magazines and a sought-after freelancer, also taught at Eastfield College in Dallas.

The year of 1972 saw the News begin its motto “Devoted to the Best Interest of Wylie Since 1947”.

Strangely, where the reference to ‘1947” came from, is and probably always will be, a mystery, since the paper began publishing the next year.

That motto continued until 1996 when it was replaced with “Covering Wylie, Sachse, Murphy and the Surrounding Area.” The motto was again changed in Feb. 2005 to “Covering Wylie and the Surrounding Area Since 1948”.

C. Truett Smith was noted as publisher in the Oct. 10, 1974, edition and changed from the previous publishers, The Wylie News, Inc. He became sole owner of the paper at that time.

The Wylie News continued to be recognized for its editorial quality in the 1970s and beyond and grew circulation as the population grew.

Scott Dorsey was named editor in 1983 and in that year the paper moved to 113 W. Oak.

Dorsey, in 1984, became co-owner of the paper and continued until he was forced to retire in 1987 due to health complications.

Smith continued as owner and publisher until his death on Aug 5, 1992. His widow and long-time Wylie native Rita Gallagher Smith assumed the publisher role and Margaret Cook, Smith’s niece, moved from circulation manager to editor.

On Sept. 14, 1993, the Smith publishing era ended when the assets of the newspaper were purchased by C&S Media, Inc., owned by Chad Engbrock and his wife, Sonia Duggan.

Engbrock a Dallas Times Herald veteran for nine years, began serving as publisher. Cook continued as editor until her retirement in July 1997.

Under new ownership, the News took a ‘big paper’ approach to a small town, providing balanced, expanded coverage of the community. Within the first four years, circulation doubled, an indication the new approach was working.

The paper has continued to be recognized by the TPA, as well as the North & East Texas Press Association, consistently winning awards in several categories.

In Oct. 1997, the News increased its visibility and size by moving to its present location at 110 N. Ballard Ave.

The paper has continued to keep its readers and advertisers at the forefront of all decisions. Investments in technology and digital platforms have helped the News continue to reach the growing city of Wylie and the surrounding communities.

The News unveiled its first website, wylienews.com, in 1998, and began to offer additional editorial content on the site that may have missed the newspaper.

In 2013, Duggan took a more active role in the day-to-day operations of the newspaper and began serving as Associate Publisher.

And, as C&S Media approaches 30 years of owning and operating the News, Engbrock still believes that “every city deserves the best newspaper it can afford.”

To support the newspaper’s continued coverage of your community, subscribe today by email ([email protected]) or online at wylienews.com.

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