Newspaper celebrates 15 years as voice of Oak Crest

Created date

July 12th, 2010

Since its inaugural issue appeared in 1995, Our Village Voice the eight-page community newspaper of Oak Crest has kept the pulse of the 87-acre community in Parkville. Now, as Oak Crest celebrates its 15th anniversary, the paper continues to serve as its voice. [caption id="attachment_12562" align="alignright" width="280" caption="John Bartgis and an all-volunteer staff produce the monthly publication, which includes current events, travel, book and movie reviews, and its own cartoon."] For years, the paper has been a great creative outlet for writers who live here, says John Bartgis, whose successful career in newspapers included stints as editor at the Baltimore Sun and deputy metro editor at the former Washington Star. Bartgis joined Our Village Voice as editor early in 2003. Now it s evolved into more of a newspaper with timely articles and features that pertain to the community and hopefully appeal to more people on campus. Our goal is to interest and educate. The tabloid-style publication features everything from current events and travel articles to book reviews and brain teasers. Most issues include feature stories about interesting people who live at Oak Crest and in-depth pieces on how the community functions. The paper even runs its own cartoon.

Group effort

[caption id="attachment_12563" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Writer, designer, and photographer Tom Foster has been working on Our Village Voice since its inception in 1995. Foster estimates he spends at least 50 hours a month producing the paper. (Submitted photo)"][/caption] I am proud of the appearance, content, and quality of the paper, says Tom Foster, one of the original volunteers whose work appeared in the first issue of Our Village Voice. Foster is the staff photographer and designs the paper on his home computer. He estimates he logs more than 50 hours each month producing the publication. The all-volunteer staff includes 11 writers. Each article submitted to the paper undergoes standard editing practices, and writers are required to adhere to specific guidelines for Our Village Voice to create uniformity within the paper. We have total editorial freedom, says Bartgis. The administration here at Oak Crest never interferes or dictates what goes into the paper. We appreciate having that freedom of the press. The paper produces 12 issues a year, with a circulation of 1,700 copies. There are no formal meetings for volunteers, and everyone communicates exclusively via e-mail, with the exception of Bartgis and Foster, who meet monthly prior to sending the paper out to be printed. Throughout the year, the paper pays homage to a variety of holidays, anniversaries, and special events including Veterans Day, Christmas, Halloween, and April Fools Day. [caption id="attachment_12561" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Our Village Voice Editor John Bartgis joined the paper in 2003. (Submitted photo)"][/caption] We have a lot of fun with the April Fools issue, says Foster, who has featured bogus articles touting the construction of a subway underOak Crest, the addition of a steeple to the chapel with Italian bronze bells scheduled to be rung every 15 minutes around the clock, drainage of the community s Lake Victoria for motorcycle races, and the introduction of tolls to be collected when crossing the foot bridges that connect Oak Crest s buildings. Some of the residents actually believe the articles, says Foster, until others, who know better, tell them it was an April Fools joke. The issue is always clearly labeled Special April 1st Edition but some readers pay no heed.

Yearlong celebration

With a list of to-dos planned to celebrateOak Crest s15th anniversary, there should be no shortage of story ideas at the paper. The festivities kicked off on March 11 with a special anniversary dinner for pioneerOak Crestresidents like Jim and Ruth Wetzel, who moved toOak Creston December 1, 1995. The past 15 years we ve spent atOak Cresthave made our lives better, says Mr. Wetzel, who is a regular contributor to Our Village Voice; his movie review column, Cinemania, runs monthly. Never a week goes by that Ruth doesn t comment about how glad she is that we live here. There are so many activities available that it boggles the mind. And the friendships that are made here create bonds that are quite reassuring at our age. Foster who has also lived atOak Crestfor 15 years says he still enjoys being involved with the paper in part because of the sense of community it generates. He particularly appreciates the feedback from residents and staff. It s rewarding to hear that someone enjoyed a particular issue or article, he explains. It s why we do what we do.