Leader-Press celeabrates 125th year of publication
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Copperas Cove Leader-Press celebrated 125 years of providing fair and accurate news about Copperas Cove and its community with a party Thursday evening.
The Leader-Press was first established by Will Bennett in 1894 as the Copperas Cove News; renamed in 1900 to the Copperas Cove Banner; renamed in 1915 to the Copperas Cove Crony until 1953, when it was renamed the Copperas Cove Courier; before going by the Copperas Cove Press from 1976 to 1979 and merged with the Copperas Cove Leader to become the Copperas Cove Leader-Press. It is the longest-running newspaper in town. Friday’s paper marked the first edition of the 125th series.
Approximately 100 came out to celebrate with the Leader-Press staff throughout the evening, and shortly after 6 p.m., thousands of copies of the first publication of the newspaper’s 125th year arrived via truck from the press in Bryan.
Inside the Leader-Press offices, guests enjoyed red, white or blue frosted cupcakes courtesy of H-E-B Plus! and lemonade while they mingled and looked at archives of past issues from decades back. They could also take a photo and be “in” the newspaper with a special photo prop.
Kimberly Copeland, the granddaughter of Byron Edward Freeman, who owned the Copperas Cove Courier from 1959 to 1963, stopped by the party with her son and brought something special for the Leader-Press staff to look over.
She brought a box of engraving cuts used in the actual printing of the newspaper and printing business cards to show to the Leader-Press staff. After he sold the Copperas Cove Courier, Freeman opened his own printing business, Freeman Printing, which was in business until 1996, across from Ace Hardware. While Freeman wasn’t willing to part with the engraving cuts, he did provide Copeland with documents and photos related to Copperas Cove history for the Leader-Press to keep.
“Nobody pays attention to newspapers anymore, so to be 125 years old in the same town in print is monumental,” Copeland said. “You’ve gone from the days of having to handset everything like my grandfather did and run it on a press and a roller to it’s all computers, it’s all digitalized.”
Copeland said she can remember being a child and helping her grandfather run the press.
“Now it’s just so different, and I like the fact that it’s still in business for all the things and the community still buys it,” Copeland said. “As a parent, for me, where else am I going to pick something up and see my kid’s picture of what they did at their sporting game or that they made the AB Honor Roll or were in the city parade? I can’t do that anywhere else but a local newspaper, and that’s why it’s so important.”
Amanda Sequeira, with the Fort Hood Area Lemonade Day, which the Leader-Press has partnered with as a sponsor for five years, spoke about how much she appreciated the Leader-Press.
“We’ve been working with the Cove Leader-Press for well over five years now, and they have been such a tremendous supporter of our kids and highlighting the program. The program is free to the public but if people don’t know about it and families aren’t aware about it, then we can’t get them involved,” Sequeira said. “Our partnership with Cove Leader-Press has just really been priceless and the intentionality that they use to highlight the kids and really tell their story is really wonderful because it gives them their moment in the spotlight.”
Sequeira thought it was so important to celebrate 125 years of providing news and coverage to Copperas Cove.
“We just celebrated 10 years of Lemonade Day, and every milestone really reminds you of the impact that you’ve made, and so 125 years, now that’s incredible. What a milestone to be able to look back and think of all the stories and current events the Cove Leader-Press has chronicled,” Sequeira said. “That’s a big deal, and it just shows the commitment to community, and what a celebration. Not many things last that long in our world today, so it’s great to have really an institution in the community that stays strong and remembers Cove from the beginning and now until the glorious days we’re in now.”
Sponsors of the event included Bill French Jewelers, H-E-B Plus!, Raising Cane’s, Chick-fil-A and McAlister’s Deli.
In addition to a free copy of the Friday paper, guests could enter into the drawings for a chance to win one of several door prizes.
The Leader-Press was recognized by city, state, and federal elected officials for its milestone.
Last Tuesday, during the Copperas Cove City Council workshop meeting, Mayor Bradi Diaz read aloud a proclamation declaring Friday, October 4, 2019 to be “Copperas Cove Leader-Press Day” in commemoration of the 125th anniversary. On Thursday, Don Nicholas, the district field representative for U.S. Rep. Roger Williams (District 25), presented the Leader-Press with a certificate signed by Williams commemorating the 125th anniversary. State Rep. J.D. Sheffield also presented the Leader-Press with a resolution commemorating the anniversary.
“I think about the two main things that newspapers like this bring to us is the First Amendment, the freedom of speech- so very vital to our entire society from the foundation up- and second, especially in a small town, when we want to know what’s going on, we read the newspaper,” Sheffield said after reading the history of the Leader-Press. “We want to know what’s happening in the football game, we read the newspaper. We want to see our kids, our grandkids, we want to see our friends, and that’s what we see when we read the newspaper.”