MIDDLETON — Becky O’Meara is a legacy Middleton resident. Her family is an integral part of the Middleton’s history.
O’Meara is also the owner, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Middleton Gazette, a monthly newspaper for the small town.
So when O’Meara was diagnosed with colon cancer over the summer and she put the paper on hold, residents became concerned.
“People missed the paper,” O’Meara said. “I didn’t realize how hard it would be to have a staff of one until I became sick.”
O’Meara’s great-grandfather was S.S. Foote, the owner of the original Foote Flour Mill in Middleton. He was also the first mayor of Middleton in 1860.
“There is just one barn that is left that was part of the mill,” O’Meara said. “It used to sit out on Dewey Street, what is now the middle of the road. But things changed over the years.”
O’Meara graduated from Middleton High School in 1973 and said her family is now on its sixth generation living and attending schools in town.
O’Meara has no grandchildren yet, but her siblings have grandchildren who are attending Middleton schools.
“My dad graduated and my grandfather graduated from here,” she said. “And my grandfather was also a mayor of Middleton.”
O’Meara’s father, Richard Foote, was a major for the Idaho State Police under Idaho Gov. Robert Smylie. Her mother, Janie Foote, was a secretary for the fire department, the three different ditch companies in Middleton and the Middleton cemetery district. A firetruck was named after O’Meara’s mother, and a classic ISP patrol car was dedicated to her father.
“My father always had 418 on the license plate of the car he used,” O’Meara said. “When they redid that car, which it wasn’t ever his car, the prisoners presented it to my dad with his license plate number on it.”
O’Meara’s home is filled with antiques, photos and memorabilia that represent her family’s history in Middleton.
In 1995, O’Meara became the sole proprietor of the Middleton Gazette, after she worked for the Idaho Press-Tribune for over 20 years. The Middleton Gazette has been in publication since the 1970s.
O’Meara works out of her home in Middleton and keeps the paper free to all residents. In August, she found out she had a tumor in her colon. It was diagnosed as colon cancer.
“I had the surgery at the deadline of the Gazette,” she said. “And on the pain pills and through chemo, it’s been difficult.”
O’Meara said she is considering taking a high school student interested in journalism under her wing before she makes any decisions on owning the Middleton Gazette.
O’Meara said the paper’s popularity was not obvious until she became sick.
“Social media posts and cards where phenomenal,” O’Meara said. “They get it for free and people would tell me to start having subscribers, but I didn’t think people would pay for it. Then people told me social media was the way to go. But I said people want the Gazette in their mail box. Some people were so angry over a free newspaper because older people are not on Facebook, they rely on my newspaper.”
A new edition of the Middleton Gazette came out toward the end of October, and O’Meara said she hopes there will be another edition in November for Middleton residents, depending on her health.
O’Meara and her family’s love of Middleton resonate through the community and through the Middleton Gazette.
O’Meara tries to keep her paper upbeat and celebrate the good news happening in her community.
“The daily papers can keep the murders and the crime,” O’Meara said. “If you want to put a story in the Gazette, send it to me. The community knows that. But I like to keep it upbeat.”