Looking to the future

The first issue of the Sublette Examiner hit the newsstands on April 5, 2001, featuring a front-page photo of a new mother cow and her calf taken by Deanne Swain on the ranch where Rhonda Swain still lives.

And a final word from the founders

SUBLETTE COUNTY — This is it, Volume 23 Issue 26, the final Sublette Examiner to hit the newsstands. Six weeks ago when our new publisher informed us that News Media Corporation (NMC), our parent company based in Rochelle, Ill., decided to cut the publication dedicated to the south county news for financial reasons, our staff began brainstorming the best ways to merge the two distinct publications, with different readers, into one. Our goal is to create a publication that is representative of all of Sublette County and its residents, businesses and organizations — past, present and future — one that you can all be proud of.

The past six weeks have been an exhaustive marathon of fighting for what we believe in and the best interests of you, our readers, friends and neighbors. We have drawn inspiration from the publication’s founders, Rhonda Swain, Cat Urbigkit, Deanne Swain and Sheri Nolan, who using just their signatures and a $10,000 loan from Rock Springs National Bank, launched the Sublette Examiner in April 2001.

They used the money to purchase computers, printers, desks and other necessary office supplies and secure a rental space in the storefront of what is now Pine Coffee Supply in Pinedale.

Rhonda Swain served as the publication’s editor, business manager and bookkeeper. She said Urbigkit was “top reporter,” with “Deanne as designer deluxe” and Nolan as “super sales rep.”

The first issue hit the newsstands on April 5, 2001, featuring a front-page photo of a new mother cow and her calf taken by Deanne on the ranch where Rhonda still lives. Deanne and Rhonda traveled with driver Jamie Swain to Jackson to see their dream become reality.

“What a heady feeling to see that first issue rolling off the presses at Jackson Hole Guide,” Rhonda Swain recalled in a recent interview.

The name “Sublette Examiner” was decided upon to secure the publication’s reputation as a county paper while honoring the historic Big Piney Examiner, and indicating that the publication would examine facts and print articles as accurately as possible.

“County-type stories” went “on the front page, and inside pages were designated to town councils, school boards and other town entities, as well as the editorial pages and community news, obituaries, crime and sports,” Rhonda said.

Jim Carbley, who had worked with the women at the Pinedale Roundup before it sold to Rob Shaul in February 2001, was hired to cover Big Piney news, all sports and crime. The Roundup’s three high school interns at the time, reporter Kate Neely, designer Tiffany Swain and photographer Tara Bolgiano, also joined the staff of the Sublette Examiner. Dan Abernathy and Etheleyne Worl took their respective columns, From the Hip and the Under the Hill Gang, away from the Roundup and to the Examiner.

The paper's advertising and subscription lists “grew very rapidly,” Rhonda explained. By early June (less than two months after the first Sublette Examiner was published), there was so much growth that the office moved to a larger space within the Summit Building.

“We worked hard and laughed a lot,” Rhonda said of the early days at the Sublette Examiner.

“When we sold to NMC in 2006, we had no idea they were also purchasing the Pinedale Roundup. But it was a done deal by then,” Rhonda recalled.

“Sadly, the paper we loved so much and worked so hard for was no longer. And as time passed, it seemed to change more, at least for us. In all honesty, I guess I can only say we all had a wonderful time when you were alive and well, Sublette Examiner, and may you rest in peace with Sheri, whom we lost to cancer a couple of years after the sale,” she concluded.

But even as things change and we are forced to adjust to new trends in the newspaper industry, several fundamental truths remain the same today as when Rhonda penned her final editorial as the Roundup editor in 2001 — “We never could have had such great papers if we hadn’t had such great communities to cover.”

Big Piney, Marbleton, Daniel, Cora, Bondurant, Pinedale and Boulder — and the people who call those communities home — are what make Sublette County so special. We know this because we have the pleasure of living in these communities alongside of you.

As my staff and I work each week to create a publication representative of all of Sublette County, you remain at the forefront of our thoughts and decision-making.

The Pinedale Roundup will publish one last time on Friday, June 30, before becoming a Thursday publication covering all of Sublette County’s communities. Continuing to print at the press just up the road in Jackson is important to us for many reasons, most especially because it means you won’t have to deal with weather delays like in other parts of the state. We have to adjust our editorial and advertising deadlines by 24 hours in order to accommodate the press there, and we’re happy to do so.
Sublette Examiner subscribers with time left in their subscriptions are being automatically rolled over to the Roundup. Your $45 (in-county) annual subscription helps support community journalism and keeps your news close to home, so we really hope you’ll keep it. The Sublette Examiner website, which won an Honorable Mention from the Wyoming Press Association this year, and the archived news articles that appear on it, will remain accessible at subletteexaminer.com. The content on the website will not be updated after June 27.

Community journalism cannot exist without the communities we serve. Even as times and trends shift, our commitment to our readers remains unwavering. We will continue to make every effort to attend your events, chronicle meetings you can’t make it to but need to know about and capture your kids’ accomplishments. We promise to continue documenting the history of Sublette County as you make it happen.

And like the newspaper folks who came before us, we’ll continue to laugh a lot because it’s the best medicine against a chronically stressful industry.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas and input about the combination of these two publications to keep your feedback in mind as we make important decisions over the coming weeks. Our Sublette Examiner email addresses will be eliminated too, so please write to us using our Pinedale Roundup emails listed below.

Cali O’Hare, managing editor, [email protected]

Joy Ufford, reporter, [email protected]

Robert Galbreath, reporter, [email protected]

Cortney Reed, advertising, [email protected]

Eunice Allgood, public notices and legals, [email protected]