November 21, 2017

Wheeler Peak Press Suspends Operations

wheeler-peak-pressBy Adam Muery

I would like to thank everyone who has supported our community’s newspaper over the past year. Unfortunately, Merissa and I have encountered a family emergency and must suspend print operations for the time being. Our website is active and anyone who has a press release may send it to us at wheelerpeakpress@gmail.com.

Merissa’s father, who lives in Swaziland in southern Africa where they served for three decades as missionaries, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer related to asbestos exposure. Her aunt is also going through chemotherapy and got an infection while in the hospital and has not yet been released. I followed Merissa and the kids down to Swaziland in the hopes of convincing him (Mickey) to see an oncologist in Houston for a second opinion. The first doctor he had seen told him that he had 6 months to live and treatment would do no good. He did agree to see an oncologist in Johannesburg and to return with me to Houston if the specialist in Johannesburg was not satisfactory. The next morning our 9 year old son Christian was attacked by a guard dog that was supposed to have been locked up.

We spent the next four days in the hospital with Christian and in total he had three surgeries over the next two weeks. He is doing well now physically but is still traumatized by the event. I had originally planned to return in time for the April 7th issue but extended my trip as a result of this incident. I rushed back to try to get the next issue out but when I got into the office at 9 o’clock the night before deadline I found the internet in Angel Fire was down. We can’t publish without internet.

At the same time this was happening with Christian, Merissa’s brother broke his leg. As of yet he has not had surgery but they expect he might. We had four family members in four hospitals at the same time.

To exacerbate things, the family business had been waiting 3 years for approval from government to complete a construction project. They received time sensitive permits to go forward on the project at the same time everyone was in the hospital.

The good news is that Mickey’s prognosis has improved and he is going through chemotherapy and is a candidate for a clinical trial. However, as a result of the treatment he is in bed all but a few hours a day. Brian is on crutches and can’t drive. So I’m going back to Swaziland to pitch in and help with the construction project. Merissa is also helping a great deal with the family’s obligations.

I don’t know how long we will be down there for but we’ll be there as long as we are needed. Our intent is to return in the coming months and continue where we left off printing the paper. Some friends of ours had committed to running the paper while we were gone but they have since had their own obligations arise that makes this impossible.

If any of our subscribers would like a refund, please send us a request including the number of issues you purchased and the number of issues your received. We can then compare that against our own records.

We never anticipated the newspaper making money but saw it as more of a community service. We obtained enough advertising to keep the paper in business but unfortunately many of the advertisers are 10 months behind in paying their bills.

Additionally, we lost the two Taos advertisers that allowed us to break even. So, all that being said, we really can’t afford to pay someone to run the paper in our absence. Ideally, a community organization would step up and take over the paper (temporarily or permanently) and if that happens will be happy to facilitate the transition. The same is true for private individuals wanting to take on the challenge.

We ask for your continued prayers as we face the challenges before us. Please pass this email along to anyone you feel appropriate.

Sincerely,

Adam & Merissa Muery

Thank You To Wheeler Peak Press

wheeler-peak-pressThank you to Wheeler Peak Press for Sponsoring Habla Tamale Cook-off Festival

Kids Corner

  • 10:00 am to 12:00 pm – Paper Mache Workshop with the Muery’s
  • 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm Face Painting with
  • 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Birdseed and Bubbles

I also wanted to share with you a story, with permission, that was published about Adam Muery and Wheeler Peak Press in the Austin American Statesman, in Austin, Texas.

Publcation: Austin American Statesman Date June 28, 2015; Section: Metro & State; Page B1

By John Kelso

Angel Fire, NM – Who says newspapers are dying? A couple of Texas Attorneys just started up a new one in the little northern New Mexico mountain town where I spend my summers.

Adam Muery, publisher of the Wheeler Peak Press and an Austin native, worked for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott when Abbott was attorney general and Adam was the counsel for the office of special investigations. When Rick Perry was governor, Muery ran the U.S Border Patrol Operations Center.

Life has changed significantly for Muery. On Wednesday, he was on the road to Las Vegas to pick up some used newspaper racks, as well as to Los Angeles for some used rack parts. That’s one difference between your big-city newspaper and your small-town version: At a big-city newspaper, the publisher doesn’t have to track down newspaper racks.

Muery and his wife Merissa, the newspaper’s editor, moved here in April to beat the Texas heat and to help their son, who has autism. The Angel Fire area provides more advantages for him, Merissa said. The Wheeler Peak Press has printed three editions so far, and Merissa has been working her tootsies off. The staff consists of three people, with a fourth on the way. Merissa and news editor Michelle Duregger write the bulk of the stories. The paper has covered everything from improvements at the airport to a rib cook-off benefiting injured bears.

I haven’t had a day off since we started, said Merissa.”Michelle and I had a couple of all-nighters to get the papers done, so they could go to the printers.

Then there’s the pay cut factor for the Muery’s, both graduates of the University of Texas Law School, where they met. There are no billable hours when you run a small-town newspaper. And if there were, they’d get about 3 cents an hour.

The Wheeler Peak Press isn’t trying to compete with the New York Times. The Press is loaded with community news the Times would ignore- like the front-page story about which kids made the Little League and the T-ball all-star teams. It’s a welcome change from the coverage of the Islamic State beheading.

The Press features man on the street interviews, complete with mug shots, in which the residents were asked, “When was the last time you left town and why?”
I was hoping the cowboy in a big hat would say, “When the sheriff chased me up Highway 64.” Instead Andrew Grine said he’d been to Taos the night before for dinner.

My favorite section is the police blotter, which quickly lets the reader know this isn’t Chicago. Some cattle got loose. Loud noises were coming out of the back of a building, but nothing happened. There was a case of indecent exposure: An old guy wearing a broad brim hat, a dark shirt and khaki shorts “was observed urinating in a public place.” At least he was a snappy dresser.

The Wheeler Peak Press’ predecessor, the Sangre de Cristo Chronicle, printed its last regular edition late last month. Adam Muery thinks the Chronicle’s problem was financial mismanagement. But a couple of people in town who know the ropes here tell me the Chronicle ran into money problems after running an article that displeased the local resort. The article apparently didn’t exactly pump up tourism, so the resort dropped its advertising, a major blow. Although the Chronicle can still be found online. For now.

“Everybody was very stressed about not having a community paper,” said Merissa, who wrote for the Chronicle before starting up her own paper. “A town needs a community paper. And we thought if we let it die, it would not be the same community. So we decided to give it a shot. So here we are.”

There’s a certain amount of anonymity that living in the city provides. But in a small town, everybody knows whats happening. And they talk about it. But if you put it in the paper, to coin an old army phrase, you might be pooping in your own mess kit. Years ago I had a good friend who ran a small-town paper in Michigan. He was writing about funny business in the police chief’s office. Then somebody shot my friend’s dog. I doubt the same sort of fate will follow the Muery’s, who don’t strike me as rabble-rousers. But publishing a small-town weekly takes a delicate balance. Sure, the readers want to read local dirt, but the advertisers don’t want to be the dirt.

John Kelso’s column appears on Sundays. Contact him at jkelso@statesman.com or 512-445-3606.

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Merissa Muery (standing by the pole)
Adam Muery (standing on the chair)