The Pipestone Flyer Production staff holding the AWNA awards for 2011, 2012 & 2013 Fire Brigade Issues and as well, an AWNA award for Best Illustration for our 2013 Remembrance Day Special cover. Standing left to right: Ted Okkerse (editor), Christina Komives (sales & production), Linda Doerr (production manager) and Ken Matthias (graphic designer/production assistant & recipient of the award for Best Illustration)
Well valued readers, this is a first for the Pipestone Flyer and something you have never before seen in our paper. We are about to toot our own horn a little! Typically we are an unpretentious group here at the paper, but every blue moon, something happens that we think requires a little extra attention, and on the 24th of January this year we definitely had a blue moon shining down on us.
As regular readers are well aware, once a year the Pipestone Flyer, along with several hundred other weekly papers across the Province, publish a supplement to the paper called The Fire Brigade News. It is a special, stand alone section of the paper dedicated to those men and women who risk their lives to protect us. It includes many "thank you" ads from local dignitaries, politicians, businesses and sometimes even regular folk who's lives have been touched by fire services personnel. It also holds between its pages photos of our regional fire departments, stories that our reporters and staff have written about the various departments and events they have been involved with, as well as having a theme, which changes every year and is given out to all the papers in the Province by the Fire Commissioner.
What the general public is usually not aware of is that there is awards to be won for this issue through the Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association, that are highly sought after in the industry. Well in years past we have been very proud to be recipients of not just the runner up award in 2007 for the Fire Brigade News but we have also taken first place not once, but twice! Now as much as that would be bragging rights enough for most newspapers, something extra special happened this year that we believe might be a first in the history of these awards. You see, we have won first place with the Fire Brigade News for the previous two consecutive years, then on Jan. 24th 2014, we took grand prize for a third year in a row! A hat trick!!!
People scoff at the idea of miracles in today's modern world but really, the fact that the Pipestone Flyer Newspaper has been not just running, but going strong as an award winning paper after seventeen years , is pretty miraculous when you think about it.
Begun in his home by owner/editor Ted Okkerse, the Pipestone Flyer remains his "baby" to this day. Ted is in the office rain, sleet, snow or sunshine every day because the news does not stop and this paper is his passion. Over the years he has shared that passion with many people, but back on January 15, 1997, when the very first single sheet edition of the Pipestone Flyer rolled off the press, Ted was the only one who had any inkling of what the future might hold.
To give everyone an idea of the growth that has happened with the paper over the years, we began by printing 900 papers that were distributed around Millet and the immediate area. Today, we print 23,471 papers every week that readers receive in their mailboxes throughout Leduc and Wetaskiwin Counties and their municipalities.
The first edition, along with all the rest for almost a year were created by Ted from start to finish. Just before the first year mark, he received a lot of help from his first employee (who began by volunteering her time) in the form of Mrs. Pat Garrett, who now sits on Millet Town Council. Compare that to a staff that today consists of sixteen talented people who hold positions as graphic artists, sales people, customer service reps, and reporters.
Even though he is a typically humble man, when asked about his paper, the word that leaps to Ted's lips is "Proud". Proud of his staff, proud of all the people who have believed in the Pipestone Flyer over the years, proud of the businesses that the paper promotes, and proud that an independently owned and produced newspaper can hold its own with the big boys. "It's a very competitive and hard nosed business and we're still here and a going concern after seventeen years." stated Ted.
He is also particularly proud of this hat trick of awards his staff have won with the Fire Brigade News. Wetaskiwin Sales Consultant and long time employee of the Pipestone Flyer, Christina Komives, who also doubles as one of the paper's graphic artists during busy times, does a large amount of work for the Fire Brigade News. "It's a lot of work, but it is probably my favourite edition of the paper to work on," shared Christina. "The community really gets behind this edition and I have also had the opportunity to go out and meet the firefighters around the County and speak to them firsthand and hear their stories. I really enjoy that."
This year we had a fantastically talented team working on the issue with Christina (Sales), Linda (Production Manager), and Giselle (Graphic Artist) working to put it together in house with Ted, as well as the stories and photos gathered from the reporters. Of course none of this could have been done without all the hard work from our support staff that includes Tammy, Mercedez and Ted's wonderful wife Dian, who has recently become an active member of the Pipestone family when she retired from nursing and stepped into the multifaceted role at the front desk.
One other person we absolutely cannot forget is (aside from Ted) the only other testosterone carrier in the office, graphic artist Ken Matthias. Ken stepped into our friendly madhouse just two weeks prior to the 2013 edition of the Fire Brigade News as Giselle had to step down to welcome her first son, Isaiah, into the world. In spite of the fact he was brought in at one of the paper's craziest, busiest times, Ken showed his amazing abilities from the start by putting together an absolutely stunning illustration for the cover of the Remembrance Day Premium Section that incorporated soldiers, a field of poppies and a golden sunset. Apparently we were not the only ones impressed with Ken's talent as he took first place in the "illustration" category in the ATCO Photographic Awards this year against 260 other entries from around the Province!
Yes, 2014 has definitely been a banner year for the Pipestone Flyer already, so please forgive us dear readers, if we indulge in a little back patting. It is a rare thing nowadays for the underdog to come out on top, but we have proven that it can still be done!