Bill Draayer Award 2001

Given in recognition of outstanding personal contributions to the progress and development of the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association.

Joan Plaxton

Joan Plaxton's devotion to the weekly newspaper business and the Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association has been forefront in her life since becoming involved in 1984 when her mother, Bernice Carmichael, was stricken with an aneurysm and could no longer continue running the Valley Views. Joan took over then, on a temporary basis. At that time she and her husband Wayne were living in Frobisher Bay, (now Iqaluit) NWT.

Joan remembers that up until this time, her brief experience with the print media had occurred in 1963 when her mother and uncle entered the world of publishing. Joan was teaching grades three and four at the elementary school and helped with the new venture when time permitted. Typewriters, a secondhand camera and a cranky old press, nicknamed Sampson, were the tools of the trade. The fledgling newspaper was operated out of a skid shack which had no running water or plumbing. The family also lived in that shack!

By September of 1984 it was obvious that Joan's mother would not be able to return to the business. Joan credits the support of her husband, Wayne (who took early retirement from Canadian Airlines International) and her children Aaron and Dixie, as well as an accepting staff, for making the newspaper a successful operation.

Equipment was upgraded and in February of 1990 the Valley Views moved into a new building. Joan believes people have a responsibility to support and serve the community in which they live. During her time in Valleyview she:

  • Served for nine years on the Valleyview Hospital Board with various committees and offices including that of chairwoman; currently a member of Town Council.
  • Was a member of the Post Office committee which lobbied to keep the Distribution Centre Facility in Valleyview.
  • Is a former Kinette Club member and held various offices in the organization, including that of president.
  • Has been a member of the Valleyview and District Agricultural Society.
  • Has served on the Valleyview Airport Commission and the Development Appeals Board.
  • Was one of the business people instrumental in starting the Valleyview Retail Merchants Association.
  • Currently serves as a director on the board of the Valleyview and District Chamber of Commerce; served one year as vice-president.
  • Was one of the founding members of the Red Willow Players.
  • Was nominated for the 1999 Canadian Women Entrepreneur of the Year award.
  • Was elected to the board of directors of the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association in 1992; served as corporate secretary of the association and was president of AWNA in 1999; served as past president for 2000-2001.
  • Chaired the AWNA Education Committee for several years and is still a board member.
  • Has chaired the Symposium Committee twice.
  • Chaired the AWNA 75th Annual Convention in 1995 and co-designed the 75th Anniversary pin.
  • (2000-01)  chaired the Nominating Committee, the Executive Committee and sat on the Alberta Press Council. She was asked to prepare guidelines (duties and responsibilities) for prospective board and committee members.

Her devotion to her community saw her as Chairperson of the Year 2000 Celebrations Committee in Valleyview. In the year 2000 she was a 2000 Golden Dozen editorial award winner. She is a member of the International Society of Weekly Newspapers Editors (ISWNE) and was among three Canadian editors in a field of twelve from the US and Canada selected for the honour.

One has to marvel at Joan's extensive involvement with her community as well as the Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association. She truly cares about people and is always there to lend a helping hand to any cause. Thanks, Joan.
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