The Mountain Enterprise
The Mountain Enterprise is a weekly newspaper circulating in the Mountain Communities of the Tejon Pass in the San Emigdio Mountains region of California, midway between Los Angeles and Bakersfield. Its sister publication is The New Mountain Pioneer, published monthly.
The first edition of the Enterprise was issued on September 22, 1966, by Nedra Hawley Cooper as a mimeographed, hand-stapled and hand-drawn publication; its first editions were produced on a blue Royal typewriter now housed at the Ridge Route Communities Museum & Historical Society. Keith Nelson, superintendent of Ridgelite Products, and Kitty Jo Nelson, a teacher, purchased the business from Neil Keyzers in 1985 and owned it for twenty years. The Nelsons sold it to Bob Weisburg and Morrie Prizer in 1995.
In 2004 the management of Hometown Publishing, LLC and its publications The Mountain Enterprise and The Mountain Pioneer was assumed by Gary Meyer (publisher) and Patric Hedlund (editor). In November 2006 ownership of Hometown was taken over by Meyer, Hedlund and Pam Sturdevant, with general management continuing under Meyer and Hedlund. In 2014 ownership passed to Meyer and Hedlund, who remain its managers. It is today published in a tabloid format of between 28 and 36 pages weekly.
In April 2011, The Mountain Enterprise won the California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA) 2010 First Place award for Best Website and First Place for Online Coverage.
In April 2010, The Mountain Enterprise won the California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA) First Place award for Best Website and First Place in Public Service for its 2009 ongoing coverage of a remote community's struggle to obtain firefighter-paramedic service.
The newspaper won awards from the National Newspaper Association on July 10 for (1) a series of investigative reports on the starvation of horses in Lockwood Valley (second place), (2) reporting on the struggle by Pine Mountain Club residents to secure Kern County's first firefighter-paramedic program (third place), (3) editorial writing about the newspaper's public-service responsibility in "The Stinkin' Public and Our School District's Brain Drain," by Patric Hedlund (honorable mention), and (4) an environmental story headed "Secret Negotiation between Tejon Developers and 'Big Green' Groups Sprouts Deal" (third place).
On July 14, the newspaper was given three awards for excellence by the California Newspaper Publishers Association, including first place for environmental reporting, first place for a newspaper website, and second place for public-service reporting.
In 2011, Lebec County Water District board member Julie McWhorter began demanding that The Mountain Enterprise reporters cease using flash photography during the district's public meetings. When the newspaper refused to stop taking flash photographs, McWhorter began claiming that the flashes were causing her medical problems. She also began claiming that California Government Code Section 54953.5 and 54953.6 gave her the right to stop the use of illuminated photography during LCWD's public meetings. The newspaper refused to cease its photography in the face of threats by McWhorter and board member Tony Venegas to "call the sheriff." Kern County Sheriff's Sergeant Mark Brown attended an LCWD meeting in June 2013 and stated afterward that he believed the photography was appropriate for a public meeting. McWhorter chose not to run in the next election and Venegas ceased his threats against the newspaper.
In December 2010 the newspaper was the target of criticism by the Kern County Grand Jury for its coverage of a controversy regarding the destruction of heritage oak trees during the construction of a new Frazier Park county library. A jury committee said a "lack of communication" was responsible for the controversy and blamed that circumstance on "the people of the area and their newspaper, " adding that the Enterprise news articles "appear to be inaccurate and/or inadequately researched." The Mountain Enterprise responded citing three statements made in the jury's report that the Enterprise says were false, and stating that the county's own arborist had told The Mountain Enterprise that the Grand Jury had not contacted him to corroborate the three claims made in the report. In an editorial, Meyer and Hedlund wrote that the jury made no attempt to contact them before issuing the report, which, they said, "attacks the citizens and the newspaper . . . with statements that are shocking in their shallowness.
In 2006, Pine Mountain resident David Seidner filed a lawsuit against The Mountain Enterprise for defamation, citing stories published in the newspaper during the 2005 campaign for the Pine Mountain Club Property Owners Association Board of Directors. Seidner's preferred candidates lost the election and he claimed that The Mountain Enterprise had made untrue statements about him in the course of its reporting about the campaign issues. Seidner also had claimed that the publisher and the editor (Gary Meyer and Patric Hedlund) of the newspaper had tampered with the ballot box in the election. The Mountain Enterprise filed an Anti-SLAPP motion to strike with the court which required Seidner to demonstrate that his arguments had merit or risk paying the newspaper's attorney's fees. The suit was dropped immediately. The term "Anti-SLAPP" refers to a legal motion which protects the public from a strategic lawsuit against public participation.
- Kim Noller, former editor
- "The Mountain Enterprise," The Mountain Enterprise, undated
- "What Is in a 50th Anniversary? 50 Years of History," The Mountain Enterprise, September 9, 2016, page 3
- "TME Countdown to Its 50th Year," The Mountain Enterprise, February 13, 2015, page 7
- National Newspaper Association list of 2009 awards for the Mountain Enterprise
- Mountain Enterprise, July 17, 2009, page 1
- Mountain Enterprise, July 20, 2007, page 1
- "Report Jeopardizes Grand Jury's Credibility," Mountain Enterprise, December 17, 2010, pages 2 and 16
- "Grand Jury criticizes tree controversy; Says mountain oaks are dying," KGET-TV on mnbc.com website