Raised in Carbondale
Coming home and staying: Carbondale native digs in
(Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles about folks who were raised in Carbondale or the area).
By Denise Barkhurst
Sopris Sun Correspondent
Forty years ago, Becky Young, fresh out of Colorado State University, moved to Carbondale to start the Roaring Fork Review newspaper with her friend Pat Noel. When the paper was bought out a year later, the duo moved on to start The Valley Journal, Carbondale’s beloved paper for 32 years. She had come into journalism after having worked for CSU’s daily paper for a year, and was following a talent and passion, though she left The Journal after 14 years for other professional pursuits.
In December of 2008, the Valley Journal shuttered its doors. While home from the University of Colorado for Christmas break, Becky’s son, Will Grandbois, listened to his mom and her friends hatch the plan for The Sopris Sun, which entered publication two months later. Before the first issue launched, Will secured the domain name and set up a website shell, as well as established the staff’s emails.
Will had grown up in Carbondale. Long before Lynn Burton mentored him on the newspaper, Burton remembers an 8-year-old Will selling potted irises in front of Miser’s. Becky must have had a surplus in her yard, and the very young entrepreneur charmed Lynn into buying some plants, which took root and spread in his backyard flowerbed.
This reporter remembers Will as one of the bouncy and very bright boys of Jerry Pluger’s third and fourth grade classes, along with Alex Weiss, Torrey Udall and her son, Jesse Moss. The clan had desks piled in horrific disarray, wore baseball hats on backwards and balanced their chairs on two legs while Pluger read Harry Potter, but they thrived under Pluger’s guidance. Like the other strong readers and writers in the class, Will took advantage of bonus reading time in Pluger’s claw foot bath tub that sat padded with pillows in the corner of the classroom.
Having graduated from Roaring Fork High School in 2008, Will was familiar with the journalists of the valley. He had worked on The Rampage while in high school, acting as the production editor, but found himself too distracted by his future’s possibilities to focus on journalism as a major in college. He wanted to be an archeologist, or an anthropologist, or a movie producer, or a dozen other things that enticed him. “I just had too many interests to narrow it down. What I have found out since is that journalism is perfect in that regard; it allows me to deal with everything I am interested in.”
Will became the “webmaster” for The Sun, and was instrumental in developing The Sun’s presence on the Internet. He kept the site up and running on the old platform and then, when the opportunity came to upgrade, he played a key role in its redesign. He created a presence for the paper on Facebook and Twitter (#bonedale will put your feed on the site), and worked hard to keep it fresh. His talent and touch made www.soprissun.com what it is today.
After his mother left The Sopris Sun board of directors, Will started submitting photos and small articles as a freelancer. “I didn’t want to ride on her coat tails. She never pushed me into her passion for the paper. She just acted as a great resource, and consequently, there was an element of just falling into it.”
Will joined the board in March of 2013 and took the role of writing breaking news articles. He decided to quit work and take a three-month internship at The Sopris Sun in August of last year, honing his reporting skills and learning from his journalism mentors while building his portfolio along the way.
Forty years after his mom had started a local newspaper, Will accepted a job as a full-time journalist for The Glenwood Post Independent, working in the same building where Becky had done the production for the Roaring Fork Review.
He notes that friends he knows are still struggling to find jobs after college. And while he never intended to follow in his mom’s footsteps, he readily admits that The Sopris Sun gave him his “lucky break . . . They took a risk with me and gave me an opportunity that otherwise would have been difficult to find.” As a surprise and show of gratitude for Will’s devotion to aiding in the development of his town’s non-profit newspaper, he was presented with an “Academy Award” (a Ken doll wrapped in foil) at The Sopris Sun-sponsored showing of the film “Casablanca” earlier this month. The award may have been on the cheesy side, but the heartfelt thanks to our local journalist were not.