Right in the centre - How do you do all that?


Ken Waddell
Neepawa Banner & Press

A number of people have asked “How do you do all that you do?” It’s a fair question as I am now 70 years old and involved in a number of activities. The “How do you do it all” question is a matter of perspective. Back in 1979, I, or more precisely, we, were a lot busier than we are are now. We means my wife and I and back in those days, it also involved our two, then pre-teen boys.

In April 1979, we started two businesses. We had a farm at Arden, I was still  able to be Ag-rep at Gladstone for three more months and on our farm, we had a 20 cow dairy, a 50 cow beef cattle herd, 500 laying hens and an assortment of hogs, sheep, goats and the occasional horse. We also started an auction service and did as many as 50 auctions a year in our peak years. We attended church nearly every Sunday, had the boys in a church boys group and were involved a number of community events. It was truly a very busy time.

Fast forward to 2018 and life is actually a bit simpler than it was in 1979. We own and operate the Neepawa Banner & Press but we certainly don’t do it all ourselves, as we have a number of full and part-time staff. In newspaper terms, we carry a higher staffing level than most papers do today, but we strongly believe we have to do so to provide a good local paper and the associated commercial printing operation.

We also operate the Rivers Banner, which as of last week was passed over to our grandson, Micah. Being a newspaper publisher is a steep learning curve for a young man, but we will help him and we have confidence he will do just fine. In conjunction with the two papers, we operate the web site www.myWestman.ca.

So that covers the owned businesses, but what about all the other stuff? It was recently pointed out to me that there is some confusion in people’s minds about our other business activities. For example, we do not own the NACTV, the local television station. NACTV is owned by a local community corporation and governed by a community-elected board. The Neepawa Banner & Press have a contract to manage the NACTV station for a small monthly fee. We do own the building where NACTV is a tenant, as are a couple of other businesses.

We also do not own the Neepawa Natives hockey club. That too is owned by a local community based corporation that is governed by an elected board. I have had the privilege of being team president for three years. I just thought it’s important to answer some of the queries about ownership.

I currently serve as president of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association and Christine and I are both still involved a bit in federal and provincial politics. I am on the Yellowhead Centre board, Chris belongs to the Tangled Threads Quilt Guild and stays somewhat involved with a couple of other groups.

So why do we do all these things? Like hundreds of other people, we are very committed our community and our area. We try to attend church regularly and attend a lot of community events. The reason is really fairly simple. It has been said that “To whom much has been given, of whom much is expected.” My wife Christine and I have been blessed. Blessed with good health, two fine sons, four fine grand children and two very lovable great-grandsons. While farming was good for us, it was not so good to us. We basically went broke farming in the 1980s era of 23 per cent interest rates on our loans. The auction business was good to us, it didn’t make tons of money, but it put groceries on the table for 20 years. The newspaper business has been good to us in that while we are not rich and we still have debt, which isn’t a good thing at 70 years of age, we make a reasonably good living.

So why did I write all this stuff? Just to set the record straight, if anyone cares. So when we ask for donations or sponsorship for NACTV or the Neepawa Natives, it isn’t because we own them, we don’t. It is because the community is made better by having a TV station and a Junior “A” hockey team.

We are not special people, we aren’t. We are just like all the others who work hard for our communities. I just wanted  to explain the context  within which we work and the reasons we do all that we do.