By Joseph Slacian
On March 16, 1977, the first issue of The Paper of Wabash County was published. On Thursday, the Paper will celebrate its 40th year in business.
Owner and founder Wayne Rees hoped to create a community newspaper. Because of the support of Wabash County residents and businesses, he believes that goal has been accomplished.
He began his newspaper career selling advertising for 15 years at the Wabash Plain Dealer. He left there and opened The Paper in a small building just south of the Wabash Village Shopping Center on Bryan Avenue.
“That was our first spot,” he said. “Bob McCallen owned it and rented it to me for fifty buck a month. I never forgot that.
“He said, ‘I want you to be successful and I’ll do anything I can to help you.’”
The business moved to its current location, northwest of the intersection of Ind. 13 and U.S. 24, about 1980. It added a press and later added commercial printing. The most recent addition was Wabash WebTV in 2013.
The Paper is a family-run operation, with Mike Rees serving as general manager, Julie (Rees) Frieden as marketing director and Sam Frieden in charge of the commercial printing division.
In the early days, Wayne noted, the family helped quite a bit.
“He did a lot of routes,” he said with a chuckle, pointing toward Mike. “They all did.”
Mike credited The Paper staff as a major reason for the success.
“I think it’s our staff of people and the quality of help that we have here,” he said. “We have some top-notch people. That means a lot.”
But, as Wayne noted earlier, none of the success would have been possible without the support of the community.
“We had more so than we ever dreamed,” Wayne said. “I really mean that. I had a lot of phone calls, ‘What can we do for you?’
“They consider this paper their paper.”
Mike added, “The community support is why we’re here. There’s no doubt about it.”
“If I didn’t have it, I never could have made it,” Wayne said.