When The Villager Journal, The News and South Missourian newspapers are delivered on Nov. 9 and 10, they will, for the first time, feature color photographs, graphics and advertisements.
The papers will be printed at Ozark Printing LLC in Harrison, and the Daily King Press, which started work at Areawide Media in 1983, will sit silent.
"A man named Jack Mosley arrived in Salem in 1983," said Pressman Dennis Moss. "He had been an employee of the King Press Company, but had been laid off. He set the press up and began working here operating it."
Gary Clayton and Jack Cochran, who owned the Salem newspaper, then called The Salem Headlight, decided to buy the 12-year old press, as they were involved in other publications and decided it would be cheaper, in the long run, to own their own press instead of paying someone else to do their printing.
After adding a building to the side of the newspaper office to house the printing operation, Clayton remembers finding the used press in a trade publication.
"It was quite an investment back then," Clayton told The News. "We fumbled along for a while figuring out what we were doing."
In 1984, Moss was hired to work in the Headlight mailroom, and, a short time later, Mosley asked if he wanted to help him run the press, both happy accidents.
"When I was getting out of high school, I actually put an application in at Town and County," Moss explained. "Because no one applied for work at the newspaper, the newspaper looked at Town and Country applications and called me. When Mr. Mosley asked me about working on the press, I was kind of intrigued with how it worked, but never thought the job would lead to a career."
For most of the past 26-years, the Daily King press has been his constant companion.
"Mr. Mosley was a press mechanic and a great teacher," said Moss.
When a new owner bought Areawide Media newspapers in 1989, Mosley and Moss went to work at a printing company in Jonesboro. But Moss, who is a Fulton County native, returned in 1990.
"While I was gone, they went through four pressmen in about two years," Moss recalled. But, for the past 21-years, it's been Moss and the Daily King.
"You have to adjust and set the rollers every time," said Moss. "Put the ink in and get the proper balance of ink and water. Nothing's automatic, but it is pretty maintenance free, really."
Floyd Hendrix, who has been Moss' assistant for 19-years, and Cecil Welch, who helps assemble and distribute papers, say it's not really as easy as Moss makes it sound.
"It's old!" Hendrix, a man of few words, said.
"If Dennis wasn't here to keep it going, it would be broken down more than working," Welch laughed.
But Moss can still get parts for the old press, and he can think of only a couple of times when the press was so broken, papers could not be printed.
"One time, a line shaft broke," said Moss, "and we had to print the paper in Paragould. We couldn't print during the ice storm, but the whole town was at a standstill. When the electricity came back on, the press was ready to go."
Moss remembers only a couple times when - like in old movies - someone ran in, and yelled, "Stop the Presses!!" In those instances, a glaring error discovered on the reporting side after the paper went to press, was corrected and printing resumed.
"It's kind of sad," Moss admits, when asked about King Press' retirement. "I feel like I'm losing what I grew up with."
But Moss, who will work in Harrison on Mondays and Tuesdays when local papers are printed, also understands.
To produce a newspaper with the King, pages are put together by computer. But Moss has to photograph each page and produce a negative, which is burned to an aluminum plate - a time consuming process. The aluminum plates are secured on press wheels, which print on paper as the newsprint whizzes by.
Using the newer press in Harrison, pages sent from Areawide Media will go directly from a computer onto the aluminum plates, ready to print bright new color along with good old black and white.
If the Daily King could talk, it would point out it can also print in color. The end product may not be as quick or as sharp but, for years, it did just that, as Areawide printed grocery store ads for stores all over north central Arkansas.
"We could print 100,000 grocery ad inserts in eight hours," said Moss.
But, a week before a new era begins, Areawide's pressroom will crank up for a final time. There will be that interesting smell of ink and cleaning solvent in the air. The press will make a wonderful noise as motors and rollers and belts and pulleys turn and spin. Long sheets of paper will magically fill with print as they speed along through the press. A cutter will chop up the assembled sheets into individual papers, which will be spit out at the end of the line.
The Daily King Press will do its thing one last time, to give you the paper you are holding and reading now.