Publishers toast paper's anniversary

Michael and Karen Villalpando have come a long way in the publishing world since mortgaging their home in 1990 to purchase the Park Labrea News.

Over the past 21 years, the longtime La Cañada Flintridge residents worked hard to grow the once 3,000-circulation, bi-monthly newspaper into the thriving 13,000-circulation weekly operation, adding the Beverly Press title to expand their coverage area to West Hollywood, Hancock Park and Wilshire neighborhoods.

Since March 2009, the Park Labrea News and Beverly Press have been circulated with the Los Angeles Times in partnership with its Times Community News division.

“It’s been a fun ride,” Michael Villalpando said Saturday evening, when dozens of the paper’s staff and supporters gathered at the couple’s home to celebrate the Park Labrea News’ 65th year on the presses.

The Villalpandos —who met while both were working for the Daily News of Los Angeles — also marked the occasion with a special anniversary issue last week that included articles by La Cañada resident Chris Erskine, a former staffer who now works for the Los Angeles Times, and Megan O’Neil, who wrote for the paper before joining Times Community News.

Saturday’s backyard celebration included live musical entertainment, a generous spread of food and drink and appearances from dignitaries of the paper’s coverage area, including longtime West Hollywood City Councilman Jeff Prang and state Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-West Hollywood).

“The Park Labrea News and Beverly Press are exceptional community newspapers,” said Feuer, who in 2010 named the operation his Assembly district’s small business of the year. “I admire the work [the Villalpandos] do. They keep a very active and engaged community especially well-informed.”

Congressman Henry Waxman (D- Los Angeles) and Homeboy Industries founder Fr. Greg Boyle also sent letters of congratulations that were read during the party.

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