the national rag of the independent people's republic of ester

A Little History

Once upon a time (1986, I think), Joe Ryan, then-member of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly, proposed that land in the borough, lots of it, be rezoned. In particular, he wanted the entirety of Ester Dome rezoned as mining-only land--including downtown Ester. Ester turned out in force at the assembly hearings on the matter, telling Mr. Ryan where he could put his idea. Mr. Ryan got annoyed and accused those good citizens of living in "the People's Republic of Ester." The proposal failed, and, unfortunately for him, a lot of said Esterites were capitalists with a perverse sense of humor, and took to referring to their village by Ryan's epithet. It stuck.

In the winter of 1998, Deirdre Helfferich, longtime resident of Ester Dome summit and recent Esterite, got herself a snazzy computer with a layout program. She got carried away one month, held a party for potential contributors, and ended up with some articles and a photograph. The first issue of The Ester Republic came out in January of 1999, and has come out almost every month since. In 2006, the Republic got a new office, and then when winter came, we had to move again (since the first one, being without electricity, was a mite frosty). After several moves here and there about the village (including the home of the publisher), the Republic Press office ended up in nearby Berry, in a studio above the Annex, a local art gallery and event space (but now, alas, merely a collection of art and business studios).

The Ester Republic is now the second-largest newspaper in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Even though it is a monthly, it has managed to scoop the local daily, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, on more than one occasion. It appears in library collections around Alaska, and subscribers are to be found all over the world, from Australia to Minnesota. It has won awards for its editorial cartoons every year from 2002 on, plus some for editorial writing and photograpy. In the last three years, the publisher has been so frenetically busy that she has been unable to get around to submitting anything for the Alaska Press Club contest, but the paper has received kudos anyway, and now even candidates for public office are beginning to realize that it exists, and are cluttering up the publisher's mail with the latest exciting announcements.

In July 2010, the Republic acquired the desk of the notable Alaskan editor and publisher, Tom Snapp. The desk shows every sign of the many investigative battles it has seen, and serves as inspiration to the office staff.


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