Weekly Vista [Newspaper]
Originally established to promote the nascent retirement community of Bella Vista (Benton County), the Weekly Vista transformed from a monthly newsletter into an award-winning weekly paper that’s been recognized for general excellence by the Arkansas Press Association.
Launched on July 4, 1965, as the Vista, the paper’s first edition included a feature borrowed from the Ozark Mountaineer outlining the scope of the village and developer John Cooper Sr.’s inspiration for “gradual retirement.” Other front-page stories included the dedication of a post office (which Bella Vista had been without since its resort era of the 1940s), demographics of the “average villager,” and the perks of village life, which included low taxes and plenty of squirrel hunting. The paper’s first editor was Ernie Deane, the renowned Arkansas journalist who created the “Arkansas Traveler” column while working at the Arkansas Gazette. Deane also served as director of information for the village.
Initially a part of the marketing department at Cooper Communities, Inc., the Vista operated out of Village Hall, previously known as the Sunset Hotel, which also served as Cooper’s headquarters. The paper was printed in Bentonville (Benton County) at the Benton County Democrat.
A copy of the Vista was given to everyone who purchased a lot or house in the village, and the paper routinely published personal accounts and full-page lists of property owners and their addresses. Typical news coverage from that era included stories on village development, progress reports on sales, and, occasionally, as the paper put it, “an entire page or more devoted to fish and fish stories.”
The Vista remained a monthly publication for its first decade of existence, then switched to twice-monthly publishing in October 1975. Less than a year later, it switched to a weekly format at the impetus of Bill Buckley, who oversaw all of Cooper’s newspapers. Buckley envisioned the Vista as a community newspaper with more input from local residents. The switch to weekly publication allowed the Weekly Vista to expand its coverage to include typical newspaper fare like editorials, cartoons, food reviews, letters to the editor, and feature stories. Although still owned by Cooper Communities, the Weekly Vista maintained strong editorial independence, with a supportive edict from Cooper to cover “all the news that’s fit to print,” according to a former editor.
By the 1980s, the Weekly Vista had moved to a new location at Town Center West near the intersection of U.S. Highway 71 and Lancashire Boulevard. Although page layout was still done in house, the paper was printed in Neosho, Missouri, and then brought back to Bella Vista for distribution. The Weekly Vista continued to concentrate on community issues, focusing primarily on the machinations of the village’s governing body, the Property Owners Association. Another local spotlight, the pet of the week, was added thanks to Phil Sciumbato, then police chief.
Due to a shifting business model and rising costs at the newspaper, Cooper Communities sold the Weekly Vista to Community Publishers, Inc. (CPI), in 1990. At the time, CPI also owned the Benton County Daily Record. The newspaper was later purchased by WEHCO Media, Inc., which also publishes several other newspapers across Arkansas, including the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The Weekly Vista operates out of an office on Frontage Road in Bentonville, just south of Lake Bella Vista.
For additional information:
“Average Villager Depicted.” The Vista, July 4, 1965.
“Bella Vista Village Project Springs to Life, Work Begun.” The Vista, July 4, 1965.
“Bentonville Firm Buys Bella Vista Paper.” Baxter Bulletin, August 8, 1990, p. 6.
Fite, Gilbert C. From Vision to Reality: A History of Bella Vista Village, 1915–1993. Rogers, AR: RoArk Printing, Inc., 1993.
Howard, Brandon. “No Dog Left Behind.” Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, August 16, 2015, p. 4D.
“Low Taxes, Squirrel Hunting Will Fare in Village’s Future Plans.” The Vista, July 4, 1965.
Phillips, Dale, and Xyta Lucas. Bella Vista. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2021.
Weekly Vista. https://bvwv.nwaonline.com/ (accessed October 28, 2022).
Brandon J. Howard
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