- Published on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 00:19
- Written by Super User
By: Jasmine K. McKee
On the second day of February, 1978, the first issue of the Island Gazette rolled off the presses, beginning a thirty six-year tradition of local coverage and community involvement. In a garage on Hamlet Avenue, the Island Gazette was born, risen from a small printing company and magazine, Carolina Coast. Publisher Beattie McKee, along with her husband Roger, started the magazine in 1975. After several years of publishing the magazine, the McKee’s were approached about turning their publication into a full-fledged newspaper. Political unrest was at its peak in the late 70’s, and there was a real need to get the news out and that is just what the McKee’s did. “It’s always been a circus, no matter who’s in office,” McKee said of the local political scene that she would start to cover more in depth. “A lot of people would say we were stirring up trouble. But we didn’t make it up. They made the news, we report it.” From that time forward, various public officials have been charged with everything from fraud, to embezzlement, to destroying political signs.
Early front pages included such events as a 421-pound lemon shark being caught off the Kure Beach Pier. According to a July, 1978 issue, Stanley Seawell, of Robbins, NC, walked the length of the pier, coaxing the shark to shore. But, seemingly more often than not, the front page was graced with a doozy of a story about the latest political faux pas. As the paper became more established, it grew to include local fishing news, a steady stream of letters to the editor, numerous local tidbits, and, of course, the stinging editorials. And it was more often the editorials that drew the most attention, as the McKee’s scolded politicians for not doing their jobs, and took sides on local issues.
In a May 17, 1979 editorial, McKee wrote, “We fully intend to continue printing our columns regardless of the pressure, threats, vicious attacks or any other type of harassment that we may receive from any town official.” It wasn’t just politicians that would object to some of the views discussed in the paper, as the Gazette took a strong stand on – and got heavily involved in – ridding the Island of the landfill located on Dow Road. In the Summer of ’79, over 400 people crammed into the aquarium’s auditorium to voice concerns over the facility. Subsequently that landfill was shut down.
And the political bickering has remained a constant through it all, with dirty campaigns and divided boards. There have probably been more 3-2 votes recorded on this Island than in any other municipalities in the democratic world. The paper has been threatened with law suites on several occasions, and staff members have been physically threatened once or twice.
Fast forward 36 years and the Island Gazette has blossomed into a 3-4 section newspaper still featuring all the news fit to print with a full time staff of only 4 people. We circulate over 10,000 papers during the summer season and receive even more hits on our website www.islandgazette.net. The weekly publication Covers: Local, regional and state news and/or events. Local school (Carolina Beach Elementary, Murray Middle, Ashley High, UNCW, CFCC schools), sporting, real estate, health, church and senior news and/or events, and any other information that affects the residents in our area. The Island Gazette is available for .50¢ in one of its (25) racks. We also give FREE complimentary papers to advertisers and high traffic areas. Racks are conveniently located in the following locations: (Downtown) Post office, New Hanover County Court House, Kingoffs Jewelers, Citgo on Red Cross Street, Corner of Second & Princess Street, Village Market. (Wilmington) Oleander and Monkey Junctions Post offices, Masonboro Commons Food Lion, Wal-Mart at Monkey Junction and Scotchman across from Ashley High School. (Carolina Beach) Post Office, Food Lion, Barrier Island Restaurant, all (3) Scotchman locations, Coldwell Banker SeaCoast Realty, Subway, Citgo, Microtel, Sea Merchants, Carolina Beach Fishing Pier, Surfside Motor Lodge, Fat Pelican, Majik Beanz, Kate’s Pancake House. (Kure Beach) Post Office, Kure Beach Fishing pier, and Citgo. (Fort Fisher) Fort Fisher Trading Post and Fort Fisher Air Base.
An always popular feature in the Island Gazette to both readers and local businesses is the Business Section “C”. Each week the cover features a new or established business under the “Spotlight on Business” feature. The Spotlight on Coastal Cuisine color feature gives bar and restaurant owners an opportunity to introduce their selves, These stories are a free feature for advertisers who sign a 6 month contract. Stories are put on a first come first serve basis and are printed on the online edition as well. The Island Gazette takes pride in offering affordable rates with special attention to detail with personal treatment to help boost your business within Southeastern New Hanover County.
Since 1978 The Island Gazette has been Published by Roger and Beattie McKee.