Newspaper owner confident crowdsourcing to close contest gap
Ross Connelly is no quitter. While his essay contest to give away The Hardwick Gazette has not yet generated enough entries to validate the contest, in his heart and mind the quality and not quantity of the entries should rule the day.
With scores of inspired entries from people across the country and around the world dedicated to the preservation of real journalism, Connelly extended the contest for a final time on September 21st when he launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the gap in funding to make it financially viable.
“We may be a small rural community, but in a larger sense this contest is too big to fail,” he says. “It is asking people to consider the value of independent journalism. Consider that citizenship and democracy start in people’s homes, their neighborhoods, their communities, with elected officials – on the local level. Local, independent newspapers are the foundation blocks of our democracy and are necessary to keep it solidly in place.”
Connelly initially launched the contest in June at HardwickGazette.com to turn the Hardwick Gazette over to a new owner. Entrants are required to write a 400-word essay explaining why they want to own a rural weekly newspaper and submit that with an entry fee of $175.
The 71-year-old owner/publisher of the Gazette hopes to generate as many as 700 entries. The contest received worldwide media attention generating scores of excellent entries but still shy of the goal by the initial Aug. 11 deadline, extended to Sept. 20.
As of the 21st of September, the number of entries is still short of the goal but the quality of the essays is promising. In them, Connelly sees the same kind of enthusiasm and commitment to journalism he and his late wife, Susan Jarzyna, brought with them to Hardwick 30 years ago. Rather than end the contest and return the fees, Connelly is exercising his last option to extend the contest through Oct. 10 while launching the crowd funding campaign to assure a winner can be selected. If the Kickstarter raises $100,000 by Oct. 10, the panel of judges will evaluate the essays and choose a winner, regardless of the final number of entries received.
This strategy is already supported by members of the community. At their own volition, they submitted “I don’t want to win” essays, including the fee and a note expressing the importance of the Gazette’s survival.
“These are people who just want to see the Gazette endure,” Connelly says. “They recognize the value of the independent voice — socially, culturally and politically. It’s a sentiment being felt broadly, even internationally. “
In support of this understanding, he was buoyed by a recent segment of Last Week Tonight by the popular HBO satirist John Oliver. He used his comedic platform to drive home the importance of real journalism in the digital age.
With the launch of the Kickstarter campaign, Connelly is optimistic he will soon be able to name a contest winner. The new owner will have the responsibility and privilege of continuing the long tradition of delivering news to Hardwick and nine surrounding towns in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.
Find the Kickstarter here:
Essay contest draws solid entries; to continue
Two months go quickly. In this case, the two months that elapsed since The Hardwick Gazette Essay Contest took off on June 11 comes to a close Aug. 11.
The contest, which offers entrants an opportunity to write an essay as to why they want to own a rural weekly newspaper in Vermont, generated tremendous interest, locally, in Vermont, throughout the country, and overseas.
Newspapers, radio stations, wire services, television stations and online publications were in touch and ran stories about the contest. The Boston Globe, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the New York Daily News, National Public Radio, the Associated Press, the BBC and the CBC were a few of the media outlets that were in touch and helped spread the word about the contest. Vermont newspapers, radio stations, television stations and online publications also published stories about the contest.
The result of the publicity brought in a number of entries — good entries. The drawback is there weren’t enough to meet the minimum of the required 700 to make the contest financially viable.
The Gazette is at a crossroads. Should the contest end, with the future of the newspaper in the air? Or should the contest continue as the passion of the entrants is strong? If the 700 threshold is reached they and those still to enter will be allowed to have their essays considered by a panel of judges.
The contest rules allow the essay contest to be extended for 60 days. The decision is made that it will continue for 40 days.
The need is for those who thought about entering, but didn’t, to take advantage of the extension to send in an essay. And the need is for those who might read or hear about the contest for the first time in the next week or two to enter, and to get friends and acquaintances to enter.
Besides garnering a number of excellent essays, the contest to this point makes a strong case there are people in this country and elsewhere who recognize the importance of a community newspaper, and have the skills and drive to be successful running one.
The entrants are local, from New England and from many states. There are people who have a few years of journalism under their belts and an enthusiasm beyond their years. There are experienced journalists seeking to get out of the corporate world before they are pink slipped to the street. And there are those who crave the chance to run their own newspaper and be a mirror of the communities it covers. There are also entrants from other countries who share a passion for journalism and offer an equal understanding as their American colleagues of the importance of community.
The contest also made evident those with business experience recognize assuming ownership of a working business and its real property — without a mortgage, for $175 — is an enviable place to be. They recognize the hours will be long and the work hard, but what is gained will be kept in the business as there will be no monthly debt service to meet.
Another lesson from the contest is the Gazette readers value the Gazette. There were letters to the editor and phone calls in support of the contest. Many times in the past two months, a person would stop and ask how the contest was going. They commented they thought the essay contest was a good idea, and sure hoped it worked as they wanted the Gazette to continue. They made clear the newspaper is important to them.
Whomever wins the essay contest will find residents here and farther afield value The Hardwick Gazette. The new publisher will meet readers who know the newspaper is integral to the communities it covers, and they will speak up about that.
Sept. 20 will come quickly, with a presidential election catching the most attention. The news giants covering the election are the interstate highways of journalism. When one gets off the super highways and ventures down rural roads and urban streets, they will find lots of life and stories to cover. The Hardwick Gazette, as community newspapers are throughout the country, is a foundation block of democracy.
The Hardwick Gazette offers the opportunity for the next owner to report the news each week and gain the privilege of shouldering that responsibility.
The details of the contest are at hardwickgazette.com
A deadline in 40 days will arrive quickly. Entering the essay contest is something to act on now.
ESSAY CONTEST TO EARN WINNER A CORNERSTONE OF THE FOURTH ESTATE
If you have the passion for writing, journalistic integrity, good business acumen, and want the opportunity to pursue the noble profession of being a newspaper publisher in the majestic hills, valleys and mountains of Vermont, this essay contest is for you.
Grand and only prize: The Hardwick Gazette, located in Hardwick, Vermont.
Entry fee: $175
Essay guidelines: 400 words or less about the entrant’s skills and vision for owning a paid weekly newspaper in the new millennium.
Find contest rules and information at HardwickGazette.com
For 127 years, The Hardwick Gazette has been a newspaper of record in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. This rural region of New England is full of life, history, character, and citizens who are fierce defenders of democracy and never shy about sharing their opinions.
First published in 1889, The Hardwick Gazette was bought by Ross Connelly and his late wife, Susan Jarzyna, in 1986. Ready for retirement, he wants to assure the newspaper lives on by holding this contest to find the new owner.
“We want to hear from people who can hold up a mirror in which local citizens can see themselves and gain insights into the lives within their communities,” says Connelly. “We want to hear from people with a passion for local stories that are important, even in the absence of scandal and sensationalism. We want to hear from people who recognize social media is not the same as a local newspaper. The winner of his contest will demonstrate this is a business that employs local people, that keeps the money we earn in the communities we cover, that is here week after week because the people who live here are important.”
Under Connelly’s leadership The Hardwick Gazette has won numerous awards as a respected and vital source of news, occurrences and opinion for the people of Hardwick and nine surrounding towns.
The contest winner will assume ownership of The Hardwick Gazette, the historic Main Street building where the newspaper has been published for over 100 years, and equipment and proprietary materials necessary to operate the business. *The Hardwick Gazette is printed offsite by a regional press not owned by the newspaper.
The contest begins June 11, 2016, and entries will be accepted through Aug. 11, 2016. There must be a minimum of 700 entries; a maximum of 1,889 entries will be accepted.
Download PDF of rules at bottom of section.
WIN THE HARDWICK GAZETTE
OFFICIAL ESSAY CONTEST RULES & ENTRY
Telephone No.: ______________________ Work No. (Optional) ________________________
Cell No. (Optional): ___________________ E-mail: _____________________________
I, the undersigned have read the Essay Contest Rules below and agree by submitting my entry and fee to abide by the rules as noted below.
Hardwick Publishing Co., Inc., dba The Hardwick Gazette
Cut along dotted line and retain Essay Contest Rules for your records.
Attach your essay SECURELY to the above entry form and then SECURELY attach a Money Order or Certified Check on top of the Essay along with two self-addressed, stamped envelopes, and mail as specified in the contest rules to:
Hardwick Gazette Essay Contest
P.O. Box 367,
Hardwick, VT 05843, USA
ESSAY CONTEST RULES
1. SUBJECT-THEME: The essay shall address the following Theme as its subject:
Why I would like to own and operate a paid weekly newspaper, founded in 1889.
2. DEADLINE: All entries must be physically in the hands of the Editor of the Hardwick Gazette by no later than Monday, August 15, 2016 at 5:30pm EST. This is a newspaper: no exceptions or extensions shall be granted. Entries should be addressed to The Hardwick Gazette Essay Contest, P.O. Box 367, Hardwick, VT 05843, USA to insure proper delivery. Responsibility for lost, late or misdirected entries rests with the entrant. Any entry postmarked after August 11th shall be returned to the entrant.
Sponsor reserves the right to unilaterally extend the deadlines of the essay contest entry and determination of the winning entries for a period of up to sixty (60) days. Notice of such extension shall be posted on the contest website: hardwickgazette.com.
3. SPONSOR: This is an essay contest of skill, ability, and knowledge. The winner will be selected by the criteria stated below as measured and evaluated by a panel of judges from the community. This contest is sponsored by Hardwick Publishing Co., Inc., a Vermont Corporation having its principal office at 42 S MAIN ST, P.O. Box 367, HARDWICK, VT, 05843, USA (“Sponsor”). Sponsor shall not correspond directly with entrants but shall post any necessary supplemental information to the Hardwick Gazette Contest Website: hardwickgazette.com. Sponsor reserves the right to modify, clarify, or change rules as necessary throughout the competition as it deems fit.
4. ELIGIBILITY: The essay contest may be entered by anyone world-wide who is eighteen years of age or older, unless the laws of your state, province, or country prohibit such contests. In which case this contest and offer are void.
Owners and ex-owners of the Hardwick Gazette, their employees, agents, and immediate family members are ineligible and may not participate in this contest. Judges of the contest and their immediate family members are also ineligible to enter.
Multiple entries, with multiple fees are permitted. Each entry must be an original work and must be attached to a separate money order or certified check. Each entry must include TWO self-addressed, stamped envelopes.
5. ESSAY ENTRY FEE: Each entry must be accompanied by a bank cashier’s check or money order payable to: The Hardwick Gazette Essay Contest in the amount of $175.00 US Funds. All entries shall be deemed received whether or not the essay adheres to the Technical Requirements as set forth here-in.
BY ENTERING THIS CONTEST, YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOU HAVE READ AND AGREE TO THE ESSAY CONTEST RULES.
Absolutely No Refunds shall be made by reason of non- compliance or for any other reason What-So-Ever, except as stated below. Sponsor will accept no more than 1,889 entries and reserves the right to accept less without notice. A minimum of 700 entries will be necessary for the contest to go forward. If 700 entries are not received, or if Sponsor should, in its sole discretion, decide to cancel the contest then all entry funds received will be refunded. Should a refund become necessary, the original fee ONLY shall be returned to each entrant ($175.00 US Funds) by the enclosed self-addressed and stamped envelopes. All entry fees shall be held in an Essay Contest Escrow Account, until a determination has been made regarding the minimum number of entries. Any interest generated by this account will go to the charity of Sponsor’s choice.
6. JUDGES: Initial Entries shall be reviewed for compliance with the technical requirements (see below) by the staff of the Hardwick Gazette.
Essays will be reviewed and ranked by a panel of 7 to 9 judges, including a representative of the Sponsor. All judges, apart from Sponsor’s representative, will not be related to or an employee or agent of Sponsor. Judges, apart from Sponsor’s representative, shall not have financial interest in the business.
The panel of judges shall read and evaluate each essay properly submitted with an attached valid entry fee as here-in described. Each essay that meets the Technical Requirements as set forth here-in, shall be judged on the basis of the following criteria:
• structure of essay (introduction, body and conclusion), (15 points)
• creativity, (35 points)
• thought and the conveyance of capability, (30 points) and
• desire to operate a weekly newspaper. (20 points)
Each essay will be graded on a 100-point scale with points awarded based on each category as listed above. The essay shall be reviewed in multiple rounds as follows:
First Round: every essay meeting the Technical Requirements (see Section 7 below) shall be read by one judge who shall award it points based on the criteria and point system above. At the end of the first round, the 200 highest scoring essays shall advance to the second round.
Second Round: The remaining essays shall be read by a judge who did not review the essay in the First Round and who shall award it points based on the criteria and point system above. At the end of the second round, the 20 essays with the highest combined point score shall be eligible for the final round.
Third Round: The 20 highest scoring essays will be read by the entire panel of Judges who shall score the essays shall award it points based on the criteria and point system above. At the end of the third round the essay with the highest point score derived solely from the third round shall be deemed the winner. The second and third highest scores shall be deemed the First and Second Runners-Up.
The names of the judges shall not be released except to a public authority requesting such information within the scope of its jurisdiction.
7. TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS: Every entry must comply with the following requirements:
1) Consist of a formal essay of 400 words or less in English;
2) Shall be typed or computer printed, double spacing;
3) one side of white 8 1⁄2 by 11 paper shall be used;
4) Entrant’s Name and address Shall Not appear on the essay.
5) The essay shall be securely attached as noted; and
6) The essay shall be accompanied by two self-addressed stamped envelopes, which shall be used first for acknowledgement of receipt of the entry, and a second for name of the winner or a refund as stated above.
8. DEADLINE FOR DETERMINATION OF WINNING ESSAY AND RUNNERS-UP: The winner will be chosen on or before November 1, 2016, along with the First and Second Runners-Up. The winner of the contest will receive the right to enter into a purchase and sale agreement for all property and assets of the Hardwick Publishing Co., Inc., dba The Hardwick Gazette. If the winner refuses in writing to accept this prize, then it shall be awarded to the First Runner-Up. Likewise, should the First Runner-Up refuse in writing to accept ownership then it will be awarded to the Second Runner-Up and forward until an individual is found to take possession of the business.
Transfer of ownership shall take place within a reasonable time following the end of the contest as solely determined by Sponsor and subject to the terms and conditions of the Purchase and Sale Agreement as drafted by Sponsor. No additional consideration will be required in the purchase and sale agreement. Winner shall have 5 business days to accept the Purchase and Sale Agreement upon notification by e-mail, phone, letter, or in person. Failure to accept the Purchase and Sale within the time allotted shall constitute a rejection of the prize.
9. COPYRIGHT AND PUBLICATION: Submitting your essay to the Essay contest shall constitute an assignment to the Sponsor of all copyrights arising under both statute and the common law and all other rights derivative there from. By entering the essay contest, entrants grant further permission for sponsors to publish all or part of the submitted essay and to use the entrant’s name and photograph and to publicize the winning entries and the names of all the final 20 essays, all without royalty or other consideration.
10. STATE, FEDERAL AND INTERNATIONAL REGULATIONS: This contest is subject to the provision of all applicable International, Federal, State, and Local Laws and regulations. This offer is governed by the laws of the State of Vermont. This offer is void where prohibited.
11. TAXES/FEES: The winning entrant shall be solely responsible for any and all taxes, fees, costs, or tax liabilities incurred as part of the transfer. These include, but are not limited to, real estate transfer tax, income taxes, legal fees, filing fees, title insurance, recording fees, and/or fees or costs of any kind imposed upon or arising out of a successful participation in this essay contest. Winner’s sole right in this contest is to accept a Purchase and Sale Agreement drawn up by Sponsor and in accord with the laws of Vermont. If Winner refuses to accept the ownership in writing, then the First Runner-Up shall be entitled to accept the Purchase and Sale Agreement subject to the same terms. Should the First Runner-Up refuse ownership, then the prize shall be awarded to the Second Runner-Up and on down until the business is transferred to a new owner.
12. DESCRIPTION OF PRIZE PROPERTY: Sponsor will present the winner with a Purchase and Sale Agreement to transfer the following for no further consideration:
• The Offices of the Hardwick Gazette, located at 42 S Main St in downtown Hardwick, Vermont, which is currently unencumbered by any mortgage or lien;
• All office supplies, computers, and equipment currently used by the staff of the Gazette;
• A current customer subscription list;
• A current advertiser list;
• A past advertiser list;
• An archive of past issues;
• Relationships and on-going agreements with printer and supply companies;
• Any propane left in the tanks;
• All furniture (desks, chairs, cabinets, and tables);
• $5,000 US Dollars (if and only if 1,889 entries are received); and
• Goodwill and community support.
Here is what is not included:
• Personal effects of the current Owner and employees;
• Printing facilities (we print off-site through a third party);
• Any guarantees (this is the news business and it changes every day).
This is a turnkey operation with furnishings and equipment. The Gazette currently employs several in-house employees on a full and part-time basis and has established correspondents and contributors. No representations about employees or others having a current relationship with the Gazette are made in this description of prizes.
13. ADDITIONAL REPRESENTATIONS: Winner agrees to accept the business as is and understands that Sponsor makes no guarantees or representations about the business apart from its own experience of owning and operating this community-based newspaper since 1986 and making a living at it. Newspaper work is not easy, particularly in the 21st Century, and the Gazette is not immune from the problems and stresses, but apart from the money (or lack thereof), it is rewarding as hell and the best job Sponsor has ever had. Winner shall understand that he or she is taking a community-based business and that what follows shall be entirely on his or her shoulders. Following the closing and transfer, the current owner will be happy to provide advice, informal help, and answer questions on a reasonable and limited basis. The current owner will also take Winner around to members of the community for introductions, as current owner sees fit, but following the closing, this will be Winner’s job and Winner will be responsible for assembling, publishing, and distributing the next issue following closing.
14. COVENANT: Winner shall agree to a covenant and condition to continue the operation of The Hardwick Gazette as a newspaper for two-years following the transfer of the business and shall not be able to sell or break up the assets of the business.
15. GOVERNING LAWS, VENUE, AND REMEDIES: This contest is governed by the Laws of the State of Vermont.
BY ENTERING THIS CONTEST, ENTRANTS AGREE THAT THE SOLE FORUM AND VENUE FOR ANY DISPUTES ARISING UNDER THIS CONTEST SHALL BE THE SUPERIOR COURT OF VERMONT, CALEDONIA UNIT. ENTRANTS FURTHER WAIVE ANY AND ALL RIGHTS TO BRING AN ACTION UNDER THIS CONTEST IN ANY OTHER FORUM, JURISDICTION, OR VENUE. ENTRANTS AGREE THAT THEIR SOLE INVESTMENT IN THIS CONTEST IS THEIR ENTRY FEE AND THAT SPONSOR IS NOT RESPONSIBLE IN ANY WAY FOR ANY ADDITIONAL ACTIONS TAKEN BEYOND SUBMITTING SAID ENTRY. ENTRANTS AGREE THAT THEIR SOLE DAMAGE IN ANY CLAIM BASED ON THIS CONTEST SHALL BE THEIR ENTRY FEE. ENTRANTS AGREE TO WAIVE ANY CONSEQUENTAL, PUNITIVE, OR EXEMPLARY DAMAGES AND SHALL NOT SEEK ANY SUCH DAMAGES IN ANY ACTION CONCERNING THIS CONTEST. ENTRANTS AGREE THAT AN ENTRY HAS NO GUARANTEE OF SUCCESS AND THAT THIS CONTEST CONTAINS AN ELEMENT OF RISK WITHOUT ANY PROMISE OF REWARD.
about the Hardwick Gazette
The Hardwick Gazette is a 127-year-old, paid-circulation newspaper located in rural, north-central Vermont. The newspaper covers hard news, community events, cultural activities and sports in 10 small towns. The Town of Hardwick is a short drive from six major ski areas, within a stone's throw of many lakes and rivers, and the scenery outside the Gazette’s window can't be beat.
For a number of years, the Gazette staff includes the publisher/editor, one full-time reporter, several hard news and sports correspondents, a part-time ad sales person, one full-time production person and two part-time production people. There is also a contract photographer and a contract courier who picks up the newspaper at the printer’s each week and helps with distribution. The Gazette has won numerous awards over the years from the Vermont Press Association, the New England Press Association, the National Newspaper Association and the International Society of Newspaper Editors. At least two news editors of other Vermont weeklies started their newspaper careers at the Gazette, and the founder and editor of a respected Vermont online news service began at the Gazette. The Gazette’s publisher/editor is a past president of both the Vermont and New England press associations . He received numerous awards for his writing over the years and was elected to the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame several years ago.
The Gazette, a seven-column broadsheet, has a paid circulation of about 2,200, half by subscription and the other half by newsstand sales. The newspaper grossed $240,000 in 2015.
The following list includes words that often appear in or are elements of stories in The Hardwick Gazette. The words can be seen as portals to frequently covered issues.
General Obligation Bond, Zoning Board of Adjustment, Broad Based Tax, Executive Session, Superior Court, Elements Of A Lede, Revenue Bond, Median, Deliberative Session, Anonymous Source, Common Level of Appraisal, Property Tax, Attribution, Planning Commission, Income Tax, Hundredweight, Mean, Ways and Means Committee, Industrial Wind, Arbitration, Off The Record, Commodity, School District, Flat Tax, Select Board, Appropriations Committee, Current Use, Branches of Government, The Elements of a Cutline, Town Meeting, Mode, Follow Up Interview, Pluralism, Supervisory Union, Regressive Tax, Color, Accountability, Sinking Fund, Democracy, Marginal Tax Rate, Equity, Hot Patch, Environmental Court, Sense of Community, Cohort, Sustainable Agricultural, Net Metering, Average, Riprap, Small Claims Court, A Municipal, Renewable Energy, Agrepreneur, Incubator Space, Waste Management District, Chloride, Domestic Violence, Utility Rate, RIF, Fence Viewer, Grand List, Worker's Compensation, Appropriation, Right-Of-Way, Five W's, Australian Ballot, Municipal Tax, Infrastructure, Lister, Combined Sewer Overflow, Poll Watcher, Reappraisal, RFP, Fluid Milk Price, Trailhead Access, Incumbent, Eminent Domain, Depth Of Field, Paper Ballot, Cheese Cave, Fiscal Year, Delinquent Property, Approved Minutes, Environmental Permit, Fee, Division Of The House, Elements Of Composition, Capital Equipment Fund, Single Payer, Quorum, PILOT, Town Report, Transparency, Debt Service, COPS Grant, Revenue, Actual Budget, Probate Court, Pent Road, Revolving Loan Fund...
This area of Vermont is steeped in beauty and history. Primarily rural, there are many animal and vegetable farms. Sustainable agriculture has been a part of the area for generations and has been enhanced in recent years with an influx of young people seeking to make a sustainable living through farming and value-added food production. Ben Hewett’s book The Town That Food Saved (we prefer to call it The Town That Saved Food), offers a good overview of this new iteration of farming and the rise of what he calls the “agrepreneurs.” There are numerous writers, artists, musicians and craftspeople living in the area as well as those who make a living in the schools, in the woods, on farms, and in the service economy.
Hardwick became known as “The Building Capital of the World” in the late 1800s. The Woodbury Granite Company was located in the town and supplied the plans and stone for, among others, the Pennsylvania State Capitol, the Wisconsin State Capitol, the Cook County Courthouse, Chicago City Hall, Union Station in Washington, D.C., and numerous other municipal and private
buildings and monuments throughout the United States. There is still a working quarry in Woodbury, the town just to the south of Hardwick.
Hardwick, with a population of 3,000, was and is the commercial center for the surrounding towns. There are several restaurants, a bookstore that is a hub for the many local authors and others from around the state and hosts readings each week in the summer and fall, a retail food co-op, other grocery stores, specialty shops and more.
The Craftsbury Chamber Players is located here, with a number of Julliard musicians returning each summer to perform weekly concerts. There are other summer chamber ensembles in residency in both Hardwick and Greensboro.
There is a health clinic in Hardwick staffed by four doctors, several PAs and nurses. Hardwick and other area towns have ambulance services and fire departments; Hardwick has a police department that serves the town as well as Greensboro. The nearest hospital is 15 miles to the west.
There are elementary schools in the various towns covered by the Gazette and students from Hardwick, Greensboro and Woodbury attend a union high school in Hardwick. There are also high schools in Craftsbury, Cabot (the home of Cabot Cheese) and Marshfield. Graduates from all the high schools enter the work force, join the military and attend many colleges and universities, ranging from community college to state colleges to the state university. Graduates have also attended Middlebury, Dartmouth, Amherst, Williams, Wesleyan, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Bowdoin, Bates, Northwestern, MIT, Mount Holyoke, Smith, Lehigh, Haverford, Colgate, Hamilton, Wheaton, and McGill, among others.
The century-plus, vibrant community around the many lakes in the area swells the summer population. Wallace Stegner, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Greta Garbo, John Gunther, Alfred Barr and James Fixx are a few of the notable people who had second homes in Greensboro or summered there with friends. The town is the home of Circus Smirkus, The Greensboro Arts Alliance & Residency, Hill Farmstead Brewery, and Jasper Hill Cheese.
Craftsbury is another town covered by the Gazette. That town is home to Sterling College and the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. The latter is a world class Nordic and rowing center that is open to the public and also offers use of its facilities to area high schools; four members of the recent U.S. Winter Olympic Team work and train at the center. Andrew Johnson, a two-time member of the U.S. Olympic Nordic team grew up in Greensboro and trained at the center. He is the current coach of the Middlebury College Nordic team. Roger Easton, the principal inventor and designer of the GPS came from the town, and former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee is a current resident. Alfred Hitchcock brought his cast for “The Trouble With Harry” to Craftsbury and filmed the movie there.
Some people think Hardwick is in the middle of nowhere. Offering views of both the Green and White mountains, about 30 miles from Stowe, the “Ski Capital of the East,” 25 miles from Montpelier (the state capital and the home of the Vermont Mountaineers, the defending champion of the New England Collegiate Baseball League), 60 miles from Burlington, 2 ½ hours from Montreal, 3 ½ hours from either Portland or Boston, and five hours from New York City, the town can also be viewed as centrally located.
The Owner's Story
Ross Connelly and Susan Jarzyna were featured on the front page of the July 1, 1986 Hardwick Gazette as the newspaper’s new owners. The first issue under their watch was published on July 22, 1986. Fast forward to 2016. Jarzyna died in 2011. Connelly kept at it but realized a few years ago the Gazette and its readers needed new energy. He knew it was time to find new owners for the newspaper and for him to move on to a new chapter in his life.
A lot happened in the intervening years. First, though, a flashback to that article in 1986. The story tells about Connelly and Jarzyna and how they came to be the eighth owners of the newspaper since it was founded in 1889.
They moved to Hardwick from Cape Cod, and lived in the apartment above the Gazette during their first year of residency in the town. Jarzyna had a background in graphic arts, and Connelly was a journalist with weekly and daily newspapers for several years after changing careers from social services administration and management.
The couple supplied the enthusiasm and energy previous owners Karen and Eric Pope said was necessary to run a weekly newspaper. The past three decades flew past. The work was constant, never boring and rewarding. They grew the Gazette, increased the readership and the newspaper’s income.
Connelly and Jarzyna learned quickly running a weekly newspaper was a responsibility and a privilege. Readers depend on the newspaper to reflect back and give insight to the events in their towns, some they are happy to read about and others they would rather go unsaid.
A few years after buying the Gazette, Jarzyna and Connelly had a son. Parenthood was fun, demanding and also a privilege. He is now graduated from college, and living and working in another area of the country, pursuing his dreams.
Some of the people who worked at the Gazette in 1986 still come to work there every day. Reporters came to the Gazette from other newspapers, others began their careers there and stayed for several years before moving on to other newspapers or other work. Many stay in touch.
Despite the time demands of weekly news gathering and production, Connelly found time to serve on the boards of the New England Press Association and later the Vermont Press Association. He became president of both, the NEPA in 1996 and the VPA from 2001-2003, remaining as a board member of the latter through 2015. He worked with NEPA to develop a group ad sales program and to expand its board membership to include voting representation for four minority journalism associations. With the VPA, he focused on issues of the public’s right to know and reforming Vermont’s public records and public meeting law.
Jarzyna also found time to give back. She was a long-time board member of the Hardwick Historical Society. She relished the work with the society to curate its collections and to design and prepare local exhibits for the society as well as those presented by the society at the Vermont History Expo.
The Gazette has been honored with numerous awards for excellence in journalism. Connelly was named to the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2012.
If there is a lesson the couple learned over their three decades publishing the Gazette it is that a community deserves and welcomes professional news coverage. The quest is to find a new owner for the Gazette who will commit to that work and become the ninth publisher of the newspaper.
KERNELS OF 100 YEARS OF HISTORY
The following essay was written by Ross Connelly, the editor and publisher of The Hardwick Gazette, for the centennial magazine the newspaper published in 1989. The views remain fresh 27 years later.
Trying to condense comments about 100 years of The Hardwick Gazette into a short page brings immediate fears of either printing something on the head of a pin or of glossing over so much of the past that what is written should have been left unsaid. But a look back over 100 years of the newspaper also brings thoughts of excitement and awe at the history contained in its pages.
This commemorative magazine is an effort to condense the history of The Hardwick Gazette in a manner that will bring both reading and visual pleasure to current readers while doing justice to the long line of editors and employees who published the newspaper during its first century.
Our purchase of The Hardwick Gazette in 1986 was enhanced with the knowledge the newspaper's centennial was approaching. The anticipation was put into perspective this year when a fellow editor of another weekly newspaper remarked that three years of ownership of the Gazette offered the right to claim 3 percent of the history of the newspaper.
Three years out of 100. That thought gives a humbling perspective to the present, past and future, but also instills a tremendous challenge each week, a wonderful sense of accomplishment with the publication of each new issue, and a recognition of the importance of community journalism.
A weekly newspaper that is doing its job serves as both a mirror and road map for its readers. No matter how small the town and no matter how many secrets are public before they are printed, a weekly newspaper takes the news of the area each week and publishes it for readers to ponder in quiet moments, and to discuss with family, friends and neighbors. The weekly newspaper offers insights and opinions about issues of the area and provides a forum for its readers to share their views with each other.
The weekly newspaper talks about the dusty back roads that one does not see on state and regional maps, and it gains its strengths from these back roads. Those who edit the weeklies find that the hidden dips and turns of the roads that pop up unexpectedly around the bend make the job important and provide the motivation that keeps it exciting. The weekly newspaper demonstrates that individuals and small groups of people are significant actors on the local stage.
While reading through back issues of the Gazette, one can see this philosophy among the seven preceding editors. Each brought a unique style to his tenure at the helm and a difference to what was covered, but common threads weave through the thousands of pages of copy printed over the century.
The pages of past issues draw one into them just as one is drawn to follow a country road that winds into a deep forest. And, as with the forest, on looking up from the newspaper's pages, one realizes the timelessness of many of the issues each editor addressed.
Reading past issues of the Gazette brings recognition that what was written 50 or 75 years ago could have been written last week or last year. All the editors shared concerns about schools, taxes, and crime. The editors of the Gazette who ran the newspaper on either side of the turn of the century expressed concerns about growth and the need to broaden the tax base, as editors in the past 20 years have also done.
Through the years, editorials were written about students who were ill prepared to work after finishing school, and of the burden of the property tax. The editors took exception to negative comments other journalists wrote about Hardwick, and they also took jabs at local and regional events. All of the editors, in their own way, saw the need to stir the pot about local issues in an effort to involve the readership with their communities.
Many people contributed to this centennial magazine. Their efforts were focused on including articles and photographs that present a slice of a century and represent the rich fabric of the towns covered by the newspaper. But, as with the issues that come out each week, there is always more to print than room, so one tries to include a cross section.
The pages that follow contain several lengthy articles that will give readers an overview of various aspects of the newspaper. These include an article about the eight editors and another about some of the employees who worked here. There is an article about the printing history of the newspaper and the change technology brought to the Gazette.
Advertisers are a part of the newspaper, and one of the articles focuses on how they changed in 100 years. There is an article about the changes in the news coverage, and two former editors wrote some reflections of their time here. They all give the readers a context in which to view the many articles and photographs reprinted from past issues.
The effort to create the magazine, while also publishing each week's edition of the newspaper, was exhausting. The task was made easier with the recognition that the finished product represents far more than the present. As The Hardwick Gazette begins its second century, this commemorative magazine is presented as a kernel of the past to present and future generations of readers of the newspaper.
Thoughts from a son
In 1986 a couple moved from Cape Cod to Hardwick, Vermont. In love and chasing a dream, they purchased the Hardwick Gazette, a small weekly newspaper founded in 1889. The shabby upstairs of the building served as their home, whilst the bottom floor was where the paper was produced.
The couple was my mother and father, Susan and Ross.
I came along in ’91 and my parents were no longer living in the upstairs of the Gazette, but nonetheless, I grew to call the place home.
On productions nights as a wee lad, I’d curl up under my mother’s desk with our dog, Zaspa and fall asleep amidst the sounds of keystrokes and the smell of coffee and ink. In elementary school, I’d come flying down Main Street on my bike and run in the front door up to my little office. I’d do my homework, eat dry ramen (a weird enjoyment back then) and read Calvin and Hobbes and Tin-Tin. I’d eagerly await every first Tuesday of March, town meeting day and election night. It was a rare occasion I got to eat pizza or Chinese. Those are some, of many, fond memories.
Perhaps more important were the lessons my parents and the paper taught me. My father lectured me many times throughout my childhood on the importance of the press in democracy and civic engagement. My mother showed me the importance and joys of community. The paper even gave me my first job, riding around town on my bike, as the paperboy.
In 2011, my mother passed away. Tragic and unprepared to deal with this, I dealt. As did my father, but I cannot begin to imagine what it was like for him. The newspaper was very much the two of them.
Nearly five years later I say with great happiness, and I’m sure my mother would agree, it’s time for my father to begin his next adventure.
The winner will become the new owner of The Hardwick Gazette.
I’ve scorned the Gazette many times over my youth. How foolish, for the Gazette has given me so much.
I’m sure someone or a couple, vibrant and energized, much like my parents in 1986 will take over this pillar of the Fourth Estate.
Please share far and wide.
Photos by Ross Connelly, Eric Hanson, Dave Morse, and Kelly Nottermann
©2016 The Hardwick Gazette