It's also exciting for us here at the Pleasanton Weekly, where we're marking the start of our 14th year as your hometown newspaper. That was not meant to be, at least not in the eyes of the late Mayor Ben Tarver. When I stopped by his office in November 1999 to share the news that our first edition would hit the stands Jan. 28, 2000, he seemed pleased but quickly added that he didn't expect to see us around six months later. "This is a small town," he told me. "There's really not much news here."
Both our stories in the Pleasanton Weekly and a robust city proved him wrong in the 13 years since we launched this newspaper. The city's population has grown from about 55,000 to just over 70,000 with new homes and apartments in the year ahead to add at least another 10,000 to those rolls. During this time, the Weekly has covered the election and appointments of an entirely new City Council, Planning Commission and Pleasanton school board. The Callippe Preserve Golf Course was built, Ruby Hill was developed and the long dormant, vacant northeast corner of Pleasanton called Staples Ranch was annexed into the city, where Stoneridge Drive is now being extended to Livermore and the Stoneridge Creek retirement community is under construction.
The Pleasanton Weekly is owned by Embarcadero Media and its flagship paper is the Palo Alto Weekly, which has been publishing for more than 30 years and, in fact, was the first newspaper to be posted online as that new technology was adapted. Other weekly newspapers in the group are The Almanac, which serves the Menlo Park region, and the Mountain View Voice.
Although the staff at the Pleasanton Weekly has changed a bit over the last 13 years, our mission has stayed the same: "It's all about Pleasanton." From Eagle Scout awards to military homecomings, to long City Council, school board and Planning Commission meetings, we're there, camera and laptops in hand to capture the news and report it back to you, our loyal readers. And I say "loyal" because so many of you call, write and visit us every day with comments and story ideas. One of our long-standing features is "Take Us Along," started just a few months after our January 2000 launch. We've published more than 1,000 of the photos you've sent us from far-away places. Thanks to you, the Pleasanton Weekly has been carried with you for a photo on every continent and many countries.
Especially pleasing is the enormous response we've had to our annual Holiday Fund. Since the fund started in 2003, readers have contributed nearly $1 million, donations that have been given to nonprofits in the Tri-Valley to help the needy they serve. Thousands of those have received hot meals from Open Heart Kitchen, pediatric medical care from Axis Community Health, emergency services from ValleyCare and grief counseling form Hope Hospice thanks to your contributions to the Holiday Fund, which send every dollar contributed to these organizations.
As tumultuous as the recent years have been for daily newspapers, which have seen circulation and revenue stream losses largely due to the advance of Internet services and social media, the Pleasanton Weekly has continued to focus on the community we serve. Both our newspaper and our early morning online "Express" offer news and features that the Drudge, Huffington and other popular online reports and blogs don't offer. This "Around Pleasanton" column (the 476th one I've written since the Pleasanton Weekly started, by the way), and our other print and online features such as Streetwise, Tri-Valley Life, sports and Town Square have uniquely local appeal that aren't matched by others.
So whether you're reading this at the kitchen counter, on your laptop, iPad or your Smartphone, stay with us. Like January, 2013 promises to be an exciting year for all of us in Pleasanton and we'll be here to tell you all about it.