The historical marker for the Silverton Standard & the Miner newspaper was unveiled and dedicated Saturday, May 5, in a celebration attended by about 100 people.
The marker was presented to the Standard by the Society of Professional Journalists, making the Silverton Standard the only Colorado newspaper to receive such a designation.
SPJ President John Ensslin was on hand to unveil the marker.
“I told the (SPJ) board you’ve got to vote for this,” Ensslin said.
Ensslin, a reporter for The Bergen (N.J.) Record, said his friends found it puzzling that he would be traveling to Silverton to stay only a couple of hours for the ceremony.
“But this is the most special thing I’m doing for a long time,” Ensslin said.
“When I think of what the pioneers did to start this paper and keep it going, it just does my heart good.
“The real reason we presented you with this award is the unbreakable bond between the community and this newspaper,” Ensslin said.
Bev Rich, chairman of the San Juan County Historical Society, which acquired the newspaper in 2009, said the historical society is proud to have taken on the project to save the historic newspaper, which was facing possible closure at that time.
“I can’t think of anything the historical society has done that’s more important,” Rich said. “How thankful we are to have a newspaper.”
Silverton Mayor Chris Tookey also spoke at the dedication ceremony.
“We’re just so excited that everybody got together and somehow kept our newspaper alive,” Tookey said.
County Board Chairman Ernie Kuhlman noted that the Standard & the Miner is the only official newspaper the county has ever had.
“And hopefully it will remain so,” Kuhlman said. “We appreciate very much the efforts put into saving the Silverton Standard & the Miner.”
Mark Esper, editor and publisher of the Standard & the Miner, recounted some of the hardships faced by operators of the newspaper since its founding in 1875.
He expressed thanks for the newspaper pioneers and all past editors and publishers who managed to keep the newspaper afloat. And he thanked the historical society for stepping in to save the Standard in its time of need.
“Most of all I want to thank the community,” Esper said. “Without overwhelming community support this newspaper could not survive.
“I don’t want to be the last editor of the Silverton Standard,” Esper told the crowd. “Please don’t let that happen.”