Fifteen years ago, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone, the U.S. housing bubble burst and NASA launched the Phoenix Mars Lander.

Also in 2007, Jill Blue, publisher for Bluewater Creative Group launched Viera Voice, a free newspaper for Viera and Suntree, distributed monthly through direct mail and in racks at local businesses, restaurants and schools.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth,” Blue said. “It’s an ever-changing, beautiful community where our readers have become

our friends.”

The idea for a Viera and Suntree paper came 10 years after Blue started Senior Life, a monthly niche newspaper for 55-and-older readers. It operated out of a one-room office condo in Viera. 

“As soon as I moved in, the business owner of the office condo, Rob Dale, stepped into the office and said, ‘Where’s our Viera paper?’ ” Blue recalled. “Three months later, Viera Voice was being delivered to homes in the Viera and Suntree area.”

 “I knew I had to be hyperlocal and go direct mail to be different and be the community paper, even though it was quite the investment,” she said. “I wanted every resident to get the news. So, we started at 10,000 (copies) and now we print 24,000.”

It was fun from the start.

“Our first front cover featured a photo of students at Manatee Elementary making Valentine’s (Day) cards for seniors,’’ Blue said. “We were emotionally connected to the community beginning with that first issue.’’

Lolly Walton, a Viera artist who paints with wine, was featured in that first issue.

“Lolly and I are still friends to this day,’’ Blue said. “She’s a wonderful person, artist and even a better friend. She’s always a blast of energy and she makes everybody laugh. Lolly has an infectious personality. Making friends like this is why we do what we do.’’

Today, Viera Voice operates out of an office at 7350 Shoppes Drive, No. 102 in Viera and has a staff of more than 25. Blue attributes the newspaper’s longevity to “being a very hyper-local, community niche paper where a lot of us live and work.” 

Some of Blue’s fondest memories through 15 years of publishing Viera Voice include “seeing the community grow, meeting people who remember what Viera was like when we had cows and fields of farmland, and seeing young students who worked for us grow up and be successful in their fields of study.” 

Well-wishers congratulated Viera Voice for the milestone.

“The Viera Company is honored to recognize Viera Voice for its 15th birthday,” Eva M. Rey, Vice President, Community Management & Communications with The Viera Company, said in a statement. “Community newspapers like the Viera Voice are vitally important to active and thriving communities such as Viera. As Viera has grown and developed over the years, Viera Voice has been with us, side-by-side, celebrating our successes, reporting the news, engaging with residents and businesses, and playing a vital communication role for our area. Congratulations to Jill Blue and Viera Voice on their incredible journey to 15!  We wish you the very best for the next 15!”