Mar 1, 2012 - By Steven R. PeckToday's front page carries the statistical information reading "Volume 106, No 1."
That means it's our newspaper anniversary.
It also happens to be the first day we're using our new "direct-to-plate" technology. We hope you won't notice any difference -- or, if you do, we hope what you notice is an improvement.
We turn over our newspaper year, or "volume," on the first available publication day of March. Usually that's March 1, but if that date happened to fall on a Saturday or a Monday, the new "No. 1" wouldn't appear until March 2.
Back in 1953, when the first edition of the newspaper called The Ranger was published, the first publication date available in March was March 5. The paper wasn't a daily then, so the previous publication had been Feb. 26. More importantly, the previous publication was called something else.
Before March 5, 1953, the weekly Riverton Times and the weekly Riverton Review existed as separate, competing entities. But the publishers, Bob and Roy Peck of the Times and E.T. "Beany" Childers of the Review, some months earlier had agreed to merge their two publications to form a new paper -- bigger, published twice a week instead of just once, and with a new name.
They considered calling it the Times-Review and, in fact, that was the name given to the corporation that owned the merged paper for many years. But the publication itself would get a new name. That was a major decision. The Riverton Review had existed since the earliest days of Riverton, having first published in 1906, not long after the new town was founded on land formally and legally removed from the Wind River Indian Reservation.
Beany Childers had no longterm ties to Riverton. He'd been publisher of the Review for about a decade, having moved to town from out of state. The Peck boys, however, were old Riverton. Their father had come to town shortly after World War I. As kids, Bob and Roy had worked at The Review. Roy had been the sports editor for the Childers paper while still in high school.
They all knew each other well, and "Beany" suggested his two younger partners come up with a name for the new paper. It was their father, businessman and educator LeRoy E. Peck, who suggested "Ranger," believing it would have a new feel, a western theme and the connotation that the staff would "range" far and wide for news.
Their timing was good. Six months after the merger, the huge uranium deposits of the Gas Hills east of Riverton were made. The town was about to boom, which it did for the next 30 years. The Ranger was there every step of the way, and business was good.
In 1960, the Pecks bought out Beany Childers and took the paper daily Aug. 15 of that year. Both Bob and Roy Peck went on to long careers in the newspaper business and made many civic contributions. Roy ran for U.S House and governor, losing narrowly both times. He later served in the Wyoming Legislature for seven years and founded another company, Western Standard, which developed the Snow King Resort in Jackson.
Bob Peck assembled the greatest public-service career in Fremont County's history, toiling ceaselessly for community improvements on an unmatchable scale. He died at age 82 five years ago Tuesday -- March 6, 2007 -- with many plans for the future still on his mind.
A member of the Peck family still serves as publisher of The Ranger on this, the beginning of the 60th year of the paper and the the 64th year overall of family newspaper ownership in Fremont County. Two others, Roy's son David and Bob's son Chris, both Fremont County natives, have enjoyed long newspaper careers elsewhere.
So here we are at Volume 106, No. 1, starting a new newspaper year, with new printing technology, even as we continue as Riverton's longest continuously operated business.
In 2003, on the occasion of The Ranger's 50th anniversary, Bob Peck contemplated a question asked by an old friend: Why, at age 79, hadn't he retired?
"After 53 years as a newspaper publisher," he wrote, "I still enjoy coming to work."
He never tired of it. Nor have the rest of us.
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