You likely saw on Saturday’s front page The Lima News is having the press removed from its home on Elida Road.
The newspaper hasn’t used the press since June 2017 when it broke down during production. It had been operating on borrowed time for quite a while before then. Given the cost of repairs — if it could even be repaired — made for an easy business decision to have a Fort Wayne site handle our printing.
I haven’t walked to the back of the building to watch any of the dismantling. I don’t know if that’s for nostalgic reasons or if I just don’t want to risk getting bonked on the head by a crane. Craig Orosz, our photo editor, says the removal is like watching a giant erector set being taken apart, piece by piece. After struggling to lift that first piece last week, it was realized a bigger crane would be needed. It was a discovery reminiscent of the movie “Jaws” — “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”
There was a time when a press was the heart of a news operation, so much so, that those of us in the business are often called “the press.” As a nation, we value a “free press.” And to this day on Sunday mornings, many of us like to pour a cup of coffee and watch “Meet the Press.”
I would hate to think years from now that instead of us being called “the press,” our grandchildren will refer to us as “the twitters.”
There are many memories that the three-stories high Wood-Hoe Lithoflex press has printed in the minds of those who have worked at The Lima News.
To hear it chug as it started and then the clapping noise of newspapers rolling off at full speed is unforgettable. To grab one of those newspapers off the press and look at the headlines while the ink was still wet was a scene right out of an old movie.
Then there were the pressmen. I cannot remember all their names, but I can still see their faces, each one peppered with ink. Many of us marveled how Jack Hunt, our longtime pressroom foreman, never seemed to age. His hair was jet black, even at retirement. There was no secret to his youthful appearance, though — It was 40 years worth of ink in his hair.
As for me, I did get to once yell one of the most legendary, but rarely used phrases, in the news business — “Stop the press!”
It was the presidential election of 2000 — George W. Bush vs. Al Gore. I was just named editor a few weeks earlier and knew this race would be close. One o’clock in the morning arrived and no winner had been declared. I held the press. Same for 1:30 and 2 a.m. Around 2:30, we let the press start with the headline, “Too close to call.” We sat around the newsroom for 45 minutes talking about the night when all the TV networks and Knight-Ridder Newspapers suddenly declared Bush the winner.
I was off to the pressroom waving my arms and yelling “stop the press!” Jack Hunt shut it down and we re-plated with a new headline and story declaring Bush won. Of course, before the sun would rise the news would change again as it was learned Florida’s votes were not fully counted. The race again was too close to call. There was no changing The Lima News a third time, though. By then the press run was over. We had distributed 18,000 copies stating Bush won and another 18,000 saying it was too close to call.
Turns out both were right.
There are many more stories associated with that 36-year-old, 135-ton press. It cost $3.52 million brand new in 1981 and could pump out 60,000 copies an hour in its heyday. While it’s now heading for the land of recyclable metals, one thing will never change.
It left a lot of us with ink in our blood.
ROSES AND THORNS: It was a week of milestones in the rose garden.
Rose: To Genevieve Emerson, of Kalida, who celebrates her 102nd birthday on Tuesday, and Mary Jane Conrad, of Rimer, who turns 100 on Wednesday.
Rose: To Dennie and Ruby Kottle of Lima, who recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
Rose: To Kyle Catlett, who once again is organizing the free Community Christmas Dinner event sponsored by VFW Post 1275 and the Veterans of Korean War Chapter. It is expected to feed around 400 people from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. at the VFW Post on East Elm Street in Lima.
Rose: To Timothy Rehner, who is the new dean and director at OSU-Lima.
Thorn: Welcome to the weeklong soap opera involving the residency of Lima 5th Ward Councilman Jamie Dixon. It begins with community activist Ray Magnus questioning the recently married Dixon, who claims he is still living with his parents in the 5th Ward and not with his newlywed wife, who lives outside of the ward. Dixon at first is relatively quiet about the allegations, but the Rev. LaMont Monford posts a stinging video on social media claiming Magnus is only doing this because he’s upset Dixon spurned Magnus’ offer to run against City Council President John Nixon. Magnus then threatened to sue Monford for slander, but also says he would support anyone who runs against Nixon. Dixon later says he and his wife are looking for a residence in he 5th Ward. The week ends with Lima Law Director Tony Geiger saying by law, Dixon is a resident of the 5th Ward.
PARTING SHOT: Why is Christmas just like a day at the office? Someone does all the work and the fat guy with the suit gets all the credit.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.