Serving Barber County Since 1991
Staff of The Gyp Hill Premiere
Noland , Publisher
Kevin and Ronda Noland celebrate 25 years of publication of The Gyp Hill Premiere in 2016. The couple believes the paper’s success and longevity are credited to the support of the community’s businesses and readers.
The Gyp Hill Premiere celebrates its 25th
By Doris Sorg
Newspapers are the absolute best guardians of history. Birth announcements and obituaries, opinions and facts, school news, club happenings, sad news, happy news, world news, local news, all preserved in the archives and on microfilm. Kevin and Ronda Noland have been recording the history of Medicine Lodge and the surrounding area in The Gyp Hill Premiere newspaper for 25 years.
In 1991, the Nolands were approached by community members about starting a hometown newspaper. It was a big step for the young family, but after careful consideration and continued encouragement and support from business owners and area residents, they decided to take that step. They became the newest and youngest newspaper owners in the state of Kansas.
They took out a loan from First National Bank and another loan from Ronda’s grandma, Mildred Meairs (she made them pay the loan back in full).
Their first location was the old flower shop they rented from George and Janet Palmer on Washington Street. They started out with one desk, two computers, a complete black and white darkroom and a line camera that they purchased from a retired printer from Sedgwick, Jim Elmore. Dennies Anderson, publisher of The Western Star in Coldwater, helped the Nolands with the original setup and their business plan. Anderson and his friend, Dave Gerstner, helped with setting up the darkroom, which was originally in the basement of the farmhouse they lived in. Kevin arranged to have the printing of the newspaper done by his longtime friend, the late Sam Clester at Belle Plaine. The paper continued to be printed in Belle Plaine until Sam retired in 2011.
Seeking help from the community for a name for the newspaper, the late Carlene Slinkard, who was the secretary of the Chamber of Commerce at the time, came up with the name the Nolands went with, The Gyp Hill Premiere. The first edition was published on July 15, 1991.
The Nolands did not enter the newspaper business without experience. Kevin’s grandpa, Bill Noland, began working part-time hand setting type after school in Mullinville during the 1930s. It was work that he enjoyed and after graduating from high school, he attended college in Pittsburgh, Kansas to study linotype.
After college, Bill married his high school sweetheart, Ethelyn Copeland, in 1938. Their first son, Gary, was born in Pratt in 1943 and their second son, Ron, was born in Norton in 1946.
Bill and Ethelyn moved their young family to Logan in 1947 when they purchased their first newspaper, The Logan Republican. While in Logan, Ethelyn began running a linotype as well.
In 1958, they had the opportunity to purchase The Kinsley Mercury. Moving the family to Kinsley, their boys grew up helping them in the newspaper business.
Bill and Ethelyn purchased yet another newspaper in 1967, The Barber County Index. The elder Nolands stayed in Kinsley and Gary and his family moved to Medicine Lodge to run The Barber County Index. In the spring of 1967, The Barber County Index was one of the first newspapers in Kansas to place a web press in their shop. After three months, the newspaper was completely converted to web. The linotype days were over for the Noland family.
Ron was serving in the United State Navy during that time. While stationed near Providence, Rhode Island, he met Joyce Amaral. They were married in 1968. Their son, Kevin, was born the following year. After Ron’s tour was completed in 1970, they moved to Kinsley. He took on the position of editor and began helping his parents with the newspaper.
Two years later, Ron and Joyce moved to Medicine Lodge to take over the management of The Barber County Index when Gary decided to move to California.
The family sold The Kinsley Mercury after Ethelyn passed away in 1972. Bill moved back to Logan and Ron continued at the Index.
Ron and Joyce added a daughter, Rhonda, to their family in 1975. Kevin was getting to the age that his dad would have him run errands and sweep the floors in addition to his Grit Newspaper route. As he entered his teenage years, he began operating the 2 unit web press that his grandfather had purchased in 1967. "I could still run that press," Kevin said. "I still dream about the sounds and smells of our old print shop."
After losing a long battle with cancer, Kevin’s Grandpa Bill passed away in 1985 at the age of 65. He left the family business to Ron.
In 1988, Kevin married Ronda Vick. Her relationship with Kevin included an introduction to what went on behind the scenes at The Barber County Index. She learned to set type, touch up negatives, caught newspapers coming off the press, stuffed inserts, bundled and proofread. Their daughter, Breeann, learned to crawl on the floors of the building that housed the newspaper.
The Barber County Index sold in 1990 to a large newspaper chain called Hometown Communications out of Destin, Florida. The content of The Barber County Index began wandering away from the hometown focus that had been present before the sale.
Knowing that Kevin had the needed experience to run a newspaper, businesses and individuals who wanted the local flavor back began encouraging Kevin and Ronda to start up their own newspaper.
Kevin stated, "I’ve seen and worked with almost all formats of printing while growing up, including sheet-fed, heatset, offset, web press and digital."
The Nolands faced their share of challenges as they learned the extras of what it took to run their own business. They laughed when reminiscing about the day two-year-old Breeann locked herself in the darkroom. They had to punch a hole in the wall so they could reach in and free their baby.
The Nolands weren’t laughing when they recalled having to testify before the Kansas Legislature to change a 100-year-old law that prohibited new publications from being appointed as "official" or "legal" publications. The law required that a newspaper must be published for five years consecutively before being able to be appointed by a governing body. They were grateful to be successful in their efforts.
The Nolands are also thankful for having long-time employees who have stuck with them through the years. "Mom (Joyce Noland) has done our proofreading for us and Ellis Mayfield has been our longtime delivery guy. Doris Sorg has been our right and left hands and we couldn’t do this without her," commented Kevin. Ronda added, "We also appreciate our subscribers, readers and those who advertise with us. There just wouldn’t be a newspaper without them."
The Nolands have seen a myriad of changes in the past 25 years. Their family has grown up during their ownership of the newspaper and their nest has emptied. Breeann is now married to Devin Schaffer and they are the parents of two children, Kycen and Baylee. Their oldest son, Joey, is attending Fort Hays State University and their youngest child, Nicholas, has just recently joined the Navy and will be leaving for training in December.
Kevin’s father, Ron, was diagnosed with a rare form of frontal lobe dementia in 2007. The disease took his life on January 11, 2013 at the Attica Long Term Care Unit.
There has also been a multitude of changes in the newspaper business. During the chaos of a computer crash and a change in the billing system, two to three weeks got lost in the shuffle.
One huge time-saving change is that now everything is done on the computer instead of having to paste up by hand using a hand waxer and a film printer.
Another change for the Premiere was adding color to the paper when they began printing with the Hutchinson News in 2011.
The effects were felt at the Premiere when their competitor closed their doors in 2008 after earlier negotiations between The Gyp Hill Premiere to purchase The Barber County Index were rejected.
The Gyp Hill Premiere left their original location at 110 North Main Street where they rented from Myrlen and Ann Bell (a couple they grew to love and appreciate) for many years. The Premiere now calls 108 North Main home, a building owned by the Nolands.
The Gyp Hill Premiere was the first non-daily newspaper to have a website when they set it up in 1995. The Nolands have embraced social media for what it is: a useful tool to assist in promoting the print edition of the newspaper. Kevin mused, "If you ask my opinion on whether or not print is dead, I would have to say that it is far from it. It will eventually transform into digital, but it has always been the historical record since the late 1800s. Nobody in 25 years from now will search Facebook to see who won ribbons at the county fair in 2005 or look for a relative who passed away in 2016. It won’t be there, but it will be forever documented by the newspaper. We are proud to be recording the history of Barber County."
Kiowa News joins Premiere to continue county coverage
The Gyp Hill Premiere
After 126 years of continuous publications, The Kiowa News has ended a chapter in Barber County’s history.
"To put rumors to rest, this was not a shut down, or bail out," said Kevin Noland, Publisher of The Gyp Hill Premiere.
"Rex Zimmerman, Publisher of The Kiowa News reached out and asked if Ronda and I were interested in taking the newspaper over and consolidating in mid-April," he added.
Noland said negotiations to continue the news in Kiowa were interrupted by his son’s leave time from the United States Navy for his marriage to his new wife Natalie Noland.
"Nick got married to his fiance’ and was home for only a month when Rex and I started talking about us taking over the newspaper. He’s been ready to retire and we had expressed an interest to pursue a way to take it on, but we thought we’d have months to convert and help them. We had agreed to continue the conversation after he (Nick) went back to Okinawa," said Noland.
Kevin and Ronda had discussed moving in the direction of taking over the coverage of Kiowa and the surrounding communities, but before the negotiations were complete, the Zimmermans ran into a complication. The printing company where they published their paper had a major break down on Monday, April 29, 2019 and it appeared that it would be impossible to continue printing.
"That’s the moment that Rex and his wife, Diann, decided it was time," said Noland. "I was working out of town Tuesday morning and had missed a series of e-mails from Zimmerman. I was in total shock when I got back home and saw the messages from Rex."
After the printing company’s press broke down, Zimmerman and Noland talked things through on Tuesday evening. Zimmerman was gracious to tell the county and the cities he served of his intentions to stop publishing The Kiowa News and requested that The Gyp Hill Premiere be appointed as the official newspapers of the local governing bodies.
"I was shocked things moved so quickly, but I understood where Rex was coming from. We had the same issue nearly happen to us when we almost lost a place to print after the owner came down with cancer and sold it. We were lucky that we found another place to print in Hutchinson," said Noland.
Rex Zimmerman has been in the newspaper business for more than 50 years, 40 of which he published The Kiowa News.
"It’s very difficult and emotional for Rex and Diann right now. This isn’t an easy industry to be in and we share so many things in common," said Noland. "We’ve joked that we are dinosaurs in this business. I believe we were really close to solving the issues before the printing press broke down."
In a statement to the Kiowa community on Facebook, Kevin Noland wrote:
"Dear Kiowa Community, I just spoke with Rex and Diann. Ronda and I, and The Gyp Hill Premiere, are going to do our best to serve our county. We are one family, not north and south. The Zimmermans have been incredible people to work with. I’ve known Rex for more than 30 years and we’ve shared everything from stories in our papers to the official county designation without ever blinking an eye. It’s been an honor to be in the industry with them and to serve Barber County. We are working with Rex on getting his subscribers integrated with ours, working with your local city government, schools and hospital and coming up with a plan to move forward. If everything goes as planned, we’ll have you a newspaper next week! We love Barber County and its people, and we’ve been working along side The Kiowa News for 28 years. We pledge to work hand in hand with you on covering your community. Let us know what you need. You can call our office at 620-886-5654 or my personal cell at 620-886-0630. Best wishes to Rex and Diann on a well deserved retirement! - Kevin Noland"
"We’ll admit, that this transition wasn’t exactly what we had planned, but we will make it work," Noland stated. "The people of Kiowa have been so supportive and we have been overwhelmed with calls and emails. We will need some time to get into a rhythm with everything, but we’re both nervous and excited to be able to step into delivering a newspaper to everyone Rex and Diann served. There will be some bumps in the road as we search for ways to integrate our papers together, but we overlapped on much of the news and helped each other out for nearly 3 decades. We’ll figure it out and we know that we’ll have Rex’s help moving forward. They are good people and have served the county and community well. We will do our best to keep doing what they’ve done for nearly 40 years."
In Loving Memory of Bill Noland
How it all started!
In the mid 1930's an ambitious young man named Bill
Noland began working part time hand setting type after school in
Mullinville, KS. This work sparked his interest in the newspaper business
that now is in its third generation.
In Loving Memory of Ronald D. Noland
Ronald D. Noland, 66, was born to Billie D. and Ethelyn (Copeland) Noland
on May 26, 1946 in Norton, Kansas. He died Friday, January 11, 2013 at the
Attica Nursing Home in Atttica, KS. "Ronnie" grew up in Logan and attended the Phillips County Schools,
later graduating high school from Kinsley, KS in 1964. He went on to
college in Emporia and enlisted in the United States Navy in 1965, serving
as a Sonar Technician. During this time he met Joyce Amaral from Warren,
RI. They were married in June of 1968. They had a son, Kevin, in 1969.
After Ron's discharge from the Navy he moved his wife and son to work for
his family's newspaper in Kinsley, KS in 1969. In 1972 his Mother Ethelyn
died. Ron moved his family to Medicine Lodge and he became the managing
editor of The Barber County Index. They gave birth to a daughter, Rhonda,
in 1975 in Medicine Lodge. Ron became Publisher of The Barber County Index
in 1985 after his father, Billie D. Noland, died. Ron ran the newspaper
until its sale in 1990. Survivors include his brother Gary Noland and wife Millie of Fort
Worth, TX; son Kevin and his wife Ronda Noland of Medicine Lodge, daughter
Rhonda Landwehr and her husband Ron of Sharon, KS; grandchildren: Breeann
Schaffer and husband Devin, Joey and Nicholas Noland, Ronnie, Ryan and
Riston Landwehr; and great-grandchildren: Kycen and Baylee Schaffer; and
niece Michelle (Noland) Houpt and nephews Eric and Brent Noland.
Ronald D. Noland, 66, was born to Billie D. and Ethelyn (Copeland) Noland on May 26, 1946 in Norton, Kansas. He died Friday, January 11, 2013 at the Attica Nursing Home in Atttica, KS.
"Ronnie" grew up in Logan and attended the Phillips County Schools, later graduating high school from Kinsley, KS in 1964. He went on to college in Emporia and enlisted in the United States Navy in 1965, serving as a Sonar Technician. During this time he met Joyce Amaral from Warren, RI. They were married in June of 1968. They had a son, Kevin, in 1969. After Ron's discharge from the Navy he moved his wife and son to work for his family's newspaper in Kinsley, KS in 1969. In 1972 his Mother Ethelyn died. Ron moved his family to Medicine Lodge and he became the managing editor of The Barber County Index. They gave birth to a daughter, Rhonda, in 1975 in Medicine Lodge. Ron became Publisher of The Barber County Index in 1985 after his father, Billie D. Noland, died. Ron ran the newspaper until its sale in 1990.
Survivors include his brother Gary Noland and wife Millie of Fort Worth, TX; son Kevin and his wife Ronda Noland of Medicine Lodge, daughter Rhonda Landwehr and her husband Ron of Sharon, KS; grandchildren: Breeann Schaffer and husband Devin, Joey and Nicholas Noland, Ronnie, Ryan and Riston Landwehr; and great-grandchildren: Kycen and Baylee Schaffer; and niece Michelle (Noland) Houpt and nephews Eric and Brent Noland.