|OFFICE, CUSTOMER SERVICE
©2014 Wilson County News, 1012 C Street, Floresville, Texas 78114 830-216-4519 Fax 830-393-3219
The Wilson County News works hard to provide a true value to both its readers and its advertisers. From the news coverage to the editorials, from information about community and scholastic events to local sports, it is a newspaper that strives to always be professional and, put simply, to always be the best.
Elaine Kolodziej began publishing the Wilson County News when its owner Peter J. Russo died Dec. 29, 1984 (Read "Our Sincere Appreciation" by Elaine Kolodziej). At that time, it was a little shopper with no assets, hidden debts, and no apparent future. Against all odds and her family's wishes, Elaine pursued her vision of a real newspaper. After a year of struggling out from under debts and working to overcome the paper's poor reputation, the business stabilized and began to take on a life of its own. Elaine did all the running, including picking up the now almost 6,000 papers from Richards Printing in San Antonio each Tuesday, delivering them to seven local post offices and also distributing all the newsstand copies. The business was operated from rented quarters on Hwy. 181 in Floresville.
In the summer of 1985, Cathy Green joined as the sole employee (part-time). In August 1986, Cathy came on full-time, providing new enthusiasm for the newspaper and an infusion of ideas for the business. In October Al and Elaine Kolodziej purchased the building where the newspaper is presently housed at 1012 "C" Street. The operation was run from the front two rooms of the building. The paper was being produced on some antiquated Frieden machines that had been discarded. Opportunities were limited, but enthusiasm grew as people expressed their love for the little paper.
1987: First Computer
The first Macintosh Plus was purchased in July 1987. Cathy quickly taught herself how to use the computer and "We were in business." In August Ginny Brown and her friend Pilar Flores were hired part-time. In September the second Mac was purchased. Meanwhile, various people had come in as part-time hires, but for one reason or another the newspaper was not to be their future.
1988: Bridal Shows
In 1988 Lucy Garza came on part-time, helping to deliver the newspaper and doing various odd jobs. Lucy became full time and stayed until she "retired" in 2000. A telephone system was installed and the offices expanded across the hall. By September, Sharon Greenwood was hired as typist. (She stayed until she moved in the spring of 1991.) After a slightly slow summer, we decided to instigate some excitement by planning a bridal show. The show was scheduled for the third weekend in September but had to be postponed for one week because of a hurricane. Despite all the problems, the show was a smashing success. The following year no bridal show was held. The shows then were moved to the second weekend in February; four more shows followed. Our wedding business increased substantially, but as our newspaper business kept us increasingly busy, we decided not to continue the bridal shows because of the enormous amount of work and expense. Our business in wedding invitations remains strong, with many customers coming in from other areas, including San Antonio.
In November the Wilson County News purchased a facsimile machine and became the first business in Floresville to offer a public fax service. A second-hand delivery van was purchased in October. To handle an ever-increasing demand for classified ads, a classified ad program for the Mac was purchased in December.
In 1989 WCN changed printers, now going to San Antonio Press. In August, the Celebrations Room was opened across the hall to accommodate a growing wedding-invitation business. Remodeling and expansions had become a way of life for the burgeoning business.
By 1990 the circulation of this little paper had become 13,886, largely by Third Class mail. Keith Kolodziej graduated from high school in May and began working during the summer. He continued part-time while going to school. (Keith left the newspaper during 1994 to work for an architect. He continued part-time until he received a degree in architecture in 1998.)
In January of 1991 Judy's office was moved allowing more space for production. Judy had become the office manager. In February a 25¢ charge was added for newsstand copies, largely as a means of control rather than for a profit motive. In September WCN purchased a Risograph, a high-speed copier/printer which allowed for in-house processing of a growing demand for quick printing. A commercial paper-cutter was needed to cut large orders, and the business of graphic design began.
A major change with the newspaper itself took place in the fall when the decision was made to apply for and become a Second Class newspaper. It would meet all the qualifications of a "paid" newspaper. However, the Wilson County News remained a free publication. Actual mailing under Second Class requirements began on Nov. 27, 1991. Altman Direct Marketing in San Antonio handled the mailing list and prepared the newspapers for distribution. They were mailed directly from the main Post Office in San Antonio.
The office continued to undergo changes with additions, painting, new carpets and remodeling. A number of part-time employees continued to drift in and out. Newspaper was just not in their blood. Meanwhile, the newspaper business continued at a hectic pace.
Teresa Benns began working as a free-lance reporter in February 1993, as the newspaper concentrated more on news content. She was one of several reporters and photographers who would eventually compliment the news staff. The newspaper continued to win awards in competition.
In the fall WCN published its first "Newcomers Guide" for the Floresville Chamber of Commerce using mostly part-time and temporary personnel. It was a major undertaking but proved to be a great success and a tradition WCN would continue.
Two offices were added, expanding the Wilson County News company to occupy the entire space of the building. (This was space previously rented to a chiropractor.) Kristen Kolodziej, who grew up with the newspaper and always worked when she could, was able to assume the duties of maintaining WCNs growing list of requesters this summer. Kristen worked after school, as she was a senior in high school. The paper changed printers again, going to Christopher Press. Accu-Mail began doing the mailing, and an IBM compatible system was purchased to maintain the papers mailing list.
The year 1996 began rather tumultuously, with newsprint and ever-increasing postage costs taking their toll. In managements attempt to come up with solutions, they began to explore seriously for the first time, the possibilities of becoming a "paid" newspaper rather than remaining a free publication. The more management explored the option, the more they liked what we saw! Even though Liza made the decision to join a larger publication in San Antonio, she left the paper with the enthusiasm and the courage to pursue switching from a "shopper" to a full-fledged paid subscription newspaper.
On June 17 Wilson County News publicized the announcement that it was going to become a paid newspaper. The response was overwhelmingly positive! Subscriptions began rolling in and Kristen had a full-time job entering the new subscriptions into the computer. The conversion was made to a fully paid, subscription newspaper by the first issue in August.
Another major undertaking awaiting Al in his new career was the incorporation of the business as WCN, Inc. Previously, it had been Elaine Kolodziej DBA Wilson County News . The incorporation went smoothly. It was a big step in the papers continuing journey. With the spring rains, however, came dismal news. The roofs on both of the new buildings would have to be replaced, and there was no time to lose. A serious remodeling program was under way by March. That summer, more changes were in store for the ever-growing newspaper.
Remodeling continued. Walls came down and others went up. A kitchen was put in the back half of the saddle shop. The telephone system had to be expanded and voice mail was added.
1999: Surfing Isn't What It Used To Be
In 1999, the Wilson County News found itself continuing to explore the Internet, a still relatively new concept to newspapers. Wilson County News Online found its way into the pages of history. Several changes in the online edition were made over the next few years while trying to find the right approach for the an online presence that would complement the print edition.
2000: The new millennium
Although the year 2000 approached with aprehension for fear of computer systems crashing all over the world, somehow the Wilson County News and the world survived. The new year brought exciting changes. The Web-site continued to be a work in progress as the Wilson County News developed its own online identity.
2001: A new way of newspaper life
In June, the Wilson County News not only changed printers, but also changed the way it processed the paper. As the change to the San Antonio Express-News was made, the size was changed as well, going from a 16-1/2" tabloid to the newly popular 25" broadsheet. These were drastic changes but intensely exciting and challenging.
2002: Wilsoncountynews.com reborn and another flood
Kristen discovered a new Internet company that offered big, yet simple and cost-effective results. Thus, wilsoncountynews.com was reborn and proved to be a tremendous success! The new Internet host would offer the affordability and flexibility that wilsoncountynews.com needed. And the newspaper's approach newspaper and Web-site working to complement each other became a reality.
During the summer, under the direction of Monica Lyssy and Al Kolodziej, the newspaper held its first-ever NIE Golf Tournament. It was a huge success and the program received a nice boost for the next year.
2004: Change continues
The second very successful NIE Golf Tournament was held showing great potential for the future of the NIE program and proving to be an event that will be continued each year to draw support for NIE.
During 2005 several faces came and went. Brian announced early in the year that he had made the decision to change careers to teaching. He soon began his classes to pursue teaching while management looked for the right person to take the lead in his absence at the end of the summer. Another golf tournament tournament was held for NIE.
By May the paper had put together its annual graduation section, "Tomorrow's Leaders," which included an exclusive cover photo derived from an intricately planned photo shoot of the top local graduates featured in the section. The photo shoot turned out to be an enjoyable opportunity for WCN staff as well as the graduates.
In the fall, Amy Seiford moved to Austin. Fred Owens, who decided to move to Texas from Washington, joined the newsroom to help ease the load and fill in the gaps between the police beat and ag news. Pam Smith joined the staff as proofreader and soon found an interest in customer service with Lisa and Judy. Also, Willie Wiatrek joined the distribution team in 2005.
2006 was yet another year of change at the newspaper, allowing constant development of department teams. Holly announced her departure to pursue other interests. Curtis also left the newsroom. Around this time Robert C. McDonald and Victoria Dixon found their way to Wilson Countys workforce. They joined WCNs newsroom. Robert soon became the sports editor debuting his work with the annual Fall Sports Preview and football coverage in the fall. Victoria moved to Texas from Hawaii and became enthralled in education coverage as well as special interest features, police beat, and meetings.
2007 was an exciting year for staff development as Wilson County News welcomed Michele Hernandez and Taryn Smith-Morales. Michele found her position in the front office as a customer service representative. Taryn began in the design department creating ads and page design as her specialty. Camille Ingram, a retired public school teacher, joined the staff as a proofreader. In December, William J. Gibbs Jr. joined the newsroom as a news reporter.
In 2008 Pat Kopecki joined Wilson County News as a reporter with an emphasis on agriculture. Also, Tiffany K. Polasek, a public school teacher, came on board part-time as the Newspapers In Education Coordinator.
Wilson County News enjoyed celebrations throughout the year, as 2009 marked the newspaper's 25th anniversary. Contests, a special section, and open house help recognize Wilson County News accomplishments for its silver anniversary. During 2009, Susan Hodges announced her retirement. Nannette Kilbey-Smith was named editor after Susan's departure.
While Wilson County celebrated its sesquicentennial, WCN Inc. purchased the La Vernia News, a small weekly publication covering solely the city of La Vernia. Al, Elaine, and Kristen worked out negotiations and in August were publishing the newspaper.
In 2011 La Vernia News moved to a new building and location on Chihuahua Street just a few doors down from City Hall. Also, Jimmy Fietsam joined the Wilson County News distribution team.
Pam Smith also puts on another successful NIE Golf Tournament, marking the program's 10th tournament. Gracie Cassias joined the newsroom as a typist, also helping with customer service.
This year marks a special time in WCN's history as the first phone app for the newspaper is launched for Android phone users. The iPhone app followed just before the year ended. In terms of staff, the Wilson County News welcomes the addition of Dolores Rodriguez and Julie Dahlberg to the customer service team, both working with Pam Smith to take care of advertisers.
Cathy Green announces her retirement in October, a tender moment in WCN's history. Taryn Smith-Morales takes over the newspaper layout and design, working closely with Kristen Weaver and Rebecca Rodriguez to continue strong design development of the newspaper week after week. Jeannie joined the team, helping with customer service, subscriptions and eventually the design team. Ernest Devora joins the distribution team.
In 2014 the Wilson County News celebrates 30 years of newspapering. Marco Aluia joins the design team.
Watch for exciting things to come in this year, not to mention, a new look for wilsoncountynews.com.