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Friends, patrons and subscribers join Watauga Democrat staff members to celebrate the newspaper’s 125th year. An open house and reception was held Thursday at the newspaper. Photo by Rob Moore

Originally published: 2013-06-20 21:31:37
Last modified: 2013-06-21 10:56:25

County's paper of record turns 125

by Kellen Short

On to the next 125!

The Watauga Democrat celebrated its 125th year of publication Thursday with a celebration at its Boone office.

Staff, community members and the leadership of Jones Media, the Watauga Democrat's parent company, gathered at the newspaper headquarters on Industrial Park Drive to mark the occasion and anticipate decades more to come.

"A business doesn't stay in business for 125 years unless it builds a bond of trust in the community," said president and CEO Gregg Jones. "We thank you for that."

Jones said that the news organization's leadership believes fighting for the progress of Boone and Watauga County is the most essential thing it does.

"We've been around a long time, and we intend to be around a whole lot longer," Jones said.

Guests dined on catered dishes from Casa Rustica and grooved to The Lucky Strikes band before touring the newspaper building and seeing the press in action.

Many of those in attendance gathered for the photo that appears on today's front page and received a special keepsake edition featuring that very photo, printed before their eyes.

The 125th celebration continues this summer with a special newspaper section detailing the Watauga Democrat's history, a float in the Boone Fourth of July parade and a display of historical artifacts at the Jones House Community Center.

With its long history, the Watauga Democrat can lay claim to being among the oldest surviving businesses in the area.

John Cooper, owner of Mast General Store, knows what it's like to celebrate such a momentous occasion -- his store celebrated its 125th year in 2008.

"It's just nice to make those milestones, I think," Cooper said. "It means a lot to the community you serve."

And with luck and perseverance, the Watauga Democrat will continue to serve future generations for years to come.

Catherine Bare, who has written the Foscoe community column for the newspaper since 2004, said she finds it a joy to be part of informing local residents about news and events they want to know.

"I just feel like if we lose our community newspapers and our little community magazines, then we've lost our community," Bare said.