About Santa Ynez Valley News
Operating since: 1925
The Santa Ynez Valley News has become a community institution after serving its readers and advertisers for nearly 90 years. Our staff members remain dedicated to publishing the best possible community newspapers each week.
Owner, editor and publisher Oscar "O.L." Powell introduced the Valley News to the Santa Ynez Valley on Dec. 11, 1925, although it wasn't the Valley's first newspaper.
The Santa Ynez Argus, published by a Mr. King and a Mr. Merrill, was the Valley's first newspaper in 1895. Others also came and went, including the Santa Ynez Valley Sentinel and the Santa Ynez Valley Press.
At first, the Valley News was printed on the Lompoc Record's press. With the help of Marcus Nielsen, the Feb. 19, 1926, issue was the first printed in Solvang.
The Babcock drum cylinder press was six times faster than the previous "Diamond" model.
In Nov. 1927, Walter L. Hanson and his wife, Mella, bought the Valley News. Hanson had owned newspapers in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota, his home state, before coming to the Valley.
Powell, the newspaper's first owner, was killed in Los Angeles by a streetcar in February 1943, two weeks after his 47th birthday.
In an article published on Oct. 25, 1973, his widow Della M. Powell recalled the early days of the newspaper. Della Powell, 75 at the time, continued to ride motorcycles and fly aerobatic planes in Lancaster.
The Hansons worked 16- to 18-hour days in production of the Valley News. Mella served as chief bookkeeper, Linotype operator and news writer. At the time, Solvang was said to be the smallest town in the country with a Model 14 Linotype.
In early November 1945, the Hansons sold the newspaper to a pair of Army veterans returning home from the South Pacific theater.
Richard Kintzel and Karl R. Jorgensen were both graduates of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.
The Hansons retired to their ranch "just north of town."
Jorgensen had worked as an apprentice in the Valley News print shop as a youth. Kintzel, a Kansas native, had moved to the Valley in 1929.
In 1958, Jorgensen bought Kintzel's share of the Valley News, and Kintzel went on to become Solvang's fourth postmaster in 1965.
He served as postmaster until his retirement in 1977. He died in June 1982 at 67 years old.
On Jan. 24, 1947, Kintzel and Jorgensen named King Merrill the newspaper's first news editor. Merrill served as editor for nearly 30 years, until his resignation in May 1974, and then returned in the early 1980s.
With Merrill as editor, the Valley News won a number of honors, including a 1973 California Newspaper Publishers Association first place award for general excellence for weeklies under 3,500 circulation.
Dana Merrill, King's son, said his father was a "born newspaper man." King's father, grandfather and great-grandfather were also in the newspaper business.
King and wife Elenita, the daughter of Samuel de la Cuesta and one of the founding members of the Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau, met at a Solvang Veterans Memorial Hall dance in October 1945, while King was stationed with the 20th Armored Division at Camp Cooke, now Vandenberg Air Force Base.
They married on Feb. 23, 1946, at Mission Santa Ines.
Although King was a native of New Jersey, he became "interwoven" into the fabric of the Valley.
When he wasn't working at the Valley News, King Merrill dedicated his time to the Salvation Army, the March of Dimes, the Solvang Business Association, the Ballard School District board of education, the Ballard Improvement and Protective Association, and the Solvang Theaterfest committee. He also founded King Merrill Associates, a public relations firm that produced Santa Ynez Valley travel brochures.
King Merrill was Danish Days chairman in 1958, and he and Elenita were the parade grand marshals in 1983.
King Merrill died at 76 years old on Sept. 7, 1998, in Clovis.
Elenita Merrill died at 87 on April 16, 2011, in Paso Robles.
On March 27, 1969, the Valley News moved from 1682 Copenhagen Drive, now the site of the Danish Mill Bakery, to its current home at 423 Second St., a former American Legion clubhouse.
In April 1974, Jorgensen incorporated the Valley News with a group of local businessmen. Also that year, computerized typesetting equipment was introduced to the production room.
A year later, Ken and Peg Johnson purchased the Valley News from the Valley News Corp.
Peg Johnson assumed ownership of the Valley News in November 1981. She also took the title of editor and publisher.
Johnson's travelogue "And the beat goes on..." chronicled her journeys around the globe as "a traveler and never a tourist."
Her daughter, La Cinda Johnson, was publisher from 1997 to 1998, when she died.
La Cinda joined the staff as sports editor in 1982 and served as general manager from 1987 to 1997.
On Sept. 20, 1994, the newspaper began publishing the Santa Ynez Valley News Extra Edition on Tuesdays to supplement the Valley News on Thursdays.
In July 2004, Peg Johnson sold Ynez Corp., parent company of the Santa Ynez Valley News and the Extra Edition, to Pulitzer Inc.
The Santa Ynez Valley News website, www.syvnews.com, went online in January 2005.
A year later, Lee Enterprises of Davenport, Iowa, completed its purchase of the Pulitzer chain, including the Valley News and the rest of Pulitzer Central Coast Newspapers.
- American Express