I remember back in late 1999 when we were preparing the first edition for launch, the late Bob Thomas, our paper's first president, and I paid a visit to the City Hall office of then-Mayor Ben Tarver, who has since died. We showed the mayor a prototype of that first edition (pictured above) that was scheduled to print on Jan. 28, 2000, and talked about the Weekly's plans to cover Pleasanton. Tarver congratulated us, but then shook his head, saying it would be a short-lived business venture since there was so little news to report in this small suburban city of 50,000 that we would have nothing left to write about within six months.
Today, Pleasanton's population is nearing 72,000, our weekly press run totals more than 14,000 newspapers, delivered every Friday to homes and apartments as well as to newsstands around town, at the BART station and in neighboring cities that quickly empty out every weekend. Contrary to Tarver's prediction, we have more news, sports, business and feature stories to fill our paper each week than space to accommodate them and growing columns of advertising that keep our skilled management team and advertising representatives busy 60 hours a week and sometimes longer. We're also publishing special sections regularly on a wide range of issue-focused topics, from Staying Healthy, Home & Garden, Buying and Selling, Pleasanton Life, gift guides, and more.
Also growing in popularity is our lively and interactive Web site at www.PleasantonWeekly.com and its popular Town Square interactive site for readers. Almost anytime, day or night, you can sign on to Town Square to read someone's comments on current topics. Although there have been some indiscretions which we have to manage and sometimes delete, the vast majority of postings are thoughtful, knowledgeable and sometimes even exclusive news reports that our reporters learn about for the first time along with our readers. When a police SWAT team surrounded a house where its occupant had barricaded himself, it was a neighbor, not the police department, that told us that the man inside was a cop. Check out all of the current comments on Town Square about our former Mayor Ken Mercer, who died Jan. 14, or the frequent postings about the beleaguered former principal at Walnut Grove Elementary School. Regular bloggers on our Web site also provide outside commentary about local and even global issues.
Just as we cover the news, the Pleasanton Weekly and our staff also give back to the community we serve. We're a sponsor of key downtown events, including the Pleasanton Downtown Association's Friday night summertime concerts in the park. Our annual Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund has raised nearly $1 million for Pleasanton and Tri-Valley nonprofits since 2002. We're active with veterans' organizations, service clubs, realty groups and the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce.
Our goal as we start our 15th year as your community newspaper hasn't changed from the start. We are committed to providing the most accurate and consistently reliable news coverage and commentaries of interest to all of us who live and work here. We strive to report that news in an objective, unbiased manner. On our Web site, where we will increasingly be including video reports, as well as in our Friday print editions, we will provide local news not available elsewhere in a year that promises to be one of the most exciting Pleasanton has ever seen. Thanks for reading--and watching--us for these 14 wonderful years. Stay tuned.