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Sign of the Times

Press leaves; Daily Sun continues printing in Hood River, Ore.

Columbia Gorge Press pressman  Rick Ursprung of Hood River, Ore., gauges the distance as he prepares to load the last unit onto a flat bed trailer while  Press manager Tony Methvin  shouts encouragement. The moving of the Daily Sun News press marks the end of local printing operations in the Lower Yakima Valley after more than a 100 years of continuous operations. The newspaper  continues to be printed in Hood River.

Photo by Julia Hart
Columbia Gorge Press pressman Rick Ursprung of Hood River, Ore., gauges the distance as he prepares to load the last unit onto a flat bed trailer while Press manager Tony Methvin shouts encouragement. The moving of the Daily Sun News press marks the end of local printing operations in the Lower Yakima Valley after more than a 100 years of continuous operations. The newspaper continues to be printed in Hood River.

— The last newspaper printing plant in the Lower Yakima Valley is now a thing of the past.

By the time today’s newspaper hit the streets, Daily Sun News’ Goss Community press will be well on its way to a new home in San Jose, Calif.

The major press units were loaded on a tractor-trailer yesterday bound for their new home.

No longer will area school children be able to experience the roar of the printing press while touring the hometown newspaper. No longer will late-breaking news cause editors to shout out “stop the presses.”

The Daily Sun press was shuttered nearly two years ago due, in part, to the ease of electronic data transfer.

For the last week as the press was disassembled, the staff recalled the noise of the press rattling the building’s windows, the nose-burning smell of the solvents used to clean the press and the rush of pulling a paper “hot off the press.”

“It’s the end of an era,” Publisher Roger Harnack said yesterday. “With digital news changing the industry, the press’ departure is a sign of the times.”

Community press

The community has had its own printing press since the early 1900s, when the Sunnyside Sun was first published here. By the early 1970s, the old Vanguard unit was replaced by the shiny new Goss Community — giving The Sun its first opportunity for spot color printing.

In the early 1960s, a second newspaper, The News Cast, later renamed The Daily News, was founded. Its original press was a simple sheet-fed ABDick system on which a pressman could run two pages at a time, said former publisher Tim Graff, one of the first pressman on the unit.

In 1981, then-publisher Tom Lanctot, took his Daily News to the next level adding two Goss Community units, the standard in printing machinery.

In the mid-1980s, The Sun was purchased by Eagle Newspapers, Inc., of Salem Ore. And in 1986, The Sun merged with The Daily News becoming Daily Sun News.

Though all those changes, the press never stopped rolling.

“It’s a really sad day,” Lanctot said.

Lanctot grew the press operation from that small ABDick 385 sheet-fed press housed in the basement at 420 South St. into the five-unit Goss Community at 600 S. Sixth St. in 1996.

“But it’s the way of today’s business,” Lanctot said. “Newspapers can now send their data electronically to a press plant anywhere, at much cheaper rates.”

The Daily Sun press was shut down in 2015 when longtime pressman Buzz Crabtree retired.

Crabtree worked on the Goss from 1986 through 2015.

After Crabtree’s retirement and an extensive search, then-publisher Graff conceded a replacement was nowhere to be found.

“That’s when we started having the paper printed on the Yakima Herald printing press,” Graff said.

The Daily Sun now prints at a sister-property, Columbia Gorge Press in Hood River, Ore.

Thanks to the pressmen’s retirement, the high cost of operating small town presses and the onset of social and digital media, the printing of newspapers has been largely consolidated in larger cities, which can support modern printing facilities, Lanctot said.

Today, there are only about three web presses — presses that use large, continuous rolls of paper to print — still operating in Eastern Washington.

Known Goss Community web presses still running are located in Colville, Ephrata and Cheney.

Smaller publications in Eastern Washington must now print out-of-area.

But that wasn’t always the case.

Printing in Sunnyside

At one time, all of the Lower Yakima Valley newspapers were printed on Sunnyside Sun and later The Daily Sun presses.

In the mid-1970s, the publishers of The Sun, Prosser Bulletin, Grandview Herald, Toppenish Review and Wapato Independent were all printed in Sunnyside, Lanctot said.

After the merger, he took over the operation of the Central Washington Press, as it was called.

In 1996, the two print houses were consolidated into one location — the site of the former C. Speck Motors showroom and auto shop at 600 S. Sixth St.

Longtime pressman Lynn Emery remembers working on The Sun’s first Goss community press in 1975.

“It was my baby,” Emery said.

Emery who got his start working on the News Cast sheet-fed press, retired as Central Washington Press plant foreman in late 1980s.

After The Daily Sun merger occurred in 1986, The Sun’s press continued to print the valley’s newspapers.

The daily was printed at the 520 S. Seventh Street operation, under the management of head pressman Jim Easterly, said Lanctot.

“There is a lot of history in that old press,” he said of the Goss Community en route today to California.

The press will be revived for King Consolidated Printing of San Jose, Calif., Columbia Gorge Press plant manager Tony Methvin said.

His Hood River, Ore., plant now prints The Daily Sun, Goldendale Sentinel the (Bingen/White Salmon) Enterprise, Hood River News, Kiona-Benton Sentinel, Yakama Nation and The Dalles Chronicle, among others.

It also prints special publications for newspapers as far away as Omak.

“We are running the press six days a week, including two dailies, plus each papers shoppers and special publications,” he said.

Methvin and pressman Rick Ursprung spent the last several days taking apart The Daily Sun’s Goss in preparation for its trip south.

“She was a pretty expensive model when it was first installed here,” Methvin said. “It’s still is a great machine.

“It’s just that we can put color on every paper, and that is the trend these days.”

That’s a sentiment Lanctot echoed, noting the world of printing is now driven by advertisers’ desire and readers’ demand for more color in the paper.

“I remember the first color add I sold was a spot color ad to the Bieber Bros. Carpeting,” he said. “It was just one color and that was in 1982.

“I miss those days of running downstairs to collect the first paper off the press,” Lanctot said.

“It’s was a dig deal to me,” he said.

Mixed feelings

Harnack has mixed feelings about the press’ departure.

“I grew up with a newspaper at home everyday,” he said. “But I have a 15-year-old daughter who sees news only in terms of digital media. So while print isn’t dead, we have to adapt to changing readership.”

That change means new digital products, optimization for mobile devices, e-editions and social media.

“Last year, we launched our subscription-based e-edition here, and its been a large circulation success,” he said.

During his career, Harnack, too, has had to operate a press “once or twice.” But the time has come to keep up with technology.

“We’ll continue to provide a printed daily newspaper serving the Lower Yakima Valley,” he said. “At the same time, look for us to move more aggressively into the digital media world.”

YouTube

Removing the Printing Press

The last newspaper printing plant in the Lower Yakima Valley is now a thing of the past. “It’s the end of an era,” Publisher Roger Harnack said. “With digital news changing the industry, the press’ departure is a sign of the times.”

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