Saturday, February 21, 2009
BY Chris Churchill
Teasdale edited The Independent, right up until the faltering Journal Register Co. last week closed the well-regarded newspaper serving Columbia County and southern Rensselaer County.
But even as Teasdale prepared that paper's final issue, he was considering ways to keep the news flowing. And this week, he launched The Columbia Paper.
For now, the product can be found only at a work-in-progress Web site, www.columbiapaper.com. But Teasdale is lining up investors and advertisers, and preparing to start a bona fide ink-on-newsprint publication.
Wait. He wants to start a newspaper?
In this economy?
When advertising revenues are plummeting and even the big metropolitan dailies are cutting back?
Yes, he really does.
"I think advertisers need an inexpensive way to reach into homes and connect with eyeballs," said Teasdale, who for now is producing the content for his paper on a refurbished Dell computer in his Chatham home.
Others agree that a new weekly can survive in Columbia County. In fact, there was considerable surprise that Journal Register, which also owns The Record in Troy and The Saratogian in Saratoga Springs, decided to close The Independent.
To many outside eyes, the paper looked healthy -- and profitable.
Journal Register has also closed or sold publications in Connecticut and its home state of Pennsylvania. This week, the debt-ridden company closed seven papers in Dutchess County and one in Putnam County.
"I don't think any of those papers closed because the community couldn't support a newspaper," said Michelle Rea, executive director of the New York Press Association, a trade group for weeklies.
Rea said it's quite rare for a weekly or community newspaper to close. In fact, there are more weekly papers today in New York than there were two years ago.
Such papers are often deeply linked to their hometowns -- as became evident when The Independent closed. The move saddened people like Colonie resident Tom Nardacci, a 34-year-old who grew up reading the paper and continued to check it online when he moved from its distribution area.
"Community-based newspapers also do so much more beyond reporting the news," he said. "They help to create an identity for smaller communities."
Teasdale said response to the shuttering of The Independent is an inspiration that has energized him for his new endeavor. He has learned, over the last week, just how much people appreciated his old employer.
"That kind of response is so rewarding," the editor-turned-publisher said. "People have just been so great."
Teasdale, who turns 61 today, said he's not naive. He's run businesses before, and worked for many years in the newspaper business.
So he's not ready to promise that The Columbia Paper will succeed. And while he'd like to hire his old staff at The Independent and pay them to work on The Columbia Paper, for now he can't do so.
"People don't realize how expensive it is to produce and distribute real news," he said.
Register-Star to Stop Publishing
Sunday and Monday Editions
By Roger F. Coleman
COLUMBIA COUNTY - Next month, Hudson-Catskill Newspapers will be re-launching the Register-Star as a daily newspaper published Tuesday through Saturday. The final Sunday edition Register-Star will be published on Sunday, Feb. 22, and our new weekend edition will debut Saturday, Feb. 28.
This publishing frequency will help us manage the increasing costs of delivery and printing without having to pass the added expense along to readers and advertisers. This schedule will also enable us to produce the most compelling and useful local newspaper that fits the community's lifestyle and support level.
Our current Saturday and Sunday editions will be merged to create a weekend edition, available and delivered Saturday mornings. This means you will receive all the money-saving coupons and sales flyers from local businesses one day earlier for use in your weekend shopping. This will also give you more time to enjoy the features such as Living Today and the USA Weekend and American Profile magazines.
Your Weekend Edition will still include all the local, state and around the globe news, nationally respected columnists, feature stories, sports scores, entertainment options, color comics, crossword puzzles, Sudoko and all the many other items that you have enjoyed for so many years.
Subscribers who have paid for home delivery of the Register-Star will receive an extension equal to the total number of days they have paid for.
We will, of course, continue to publish news and local information every day, 24/7, updated each day on www.registerstar.com, the fastest growing and most complete local news Web site in Columbia County.
Questions? Contact the Register-Star at 518-828-1616.
Copake To Appoint Ombudsman
Town to appoint ombudsman Two interested in position
By Jamie Larson
COPAKE - Two Copake residents have applied for the volunteer position of town ombudsman. Whoever is selected will have the responsibility of investigating citizen complaints against members of government, such as boards, committees or individuals, and trying and broker an acceptable resolution.
The position was written into the town policy manual in 2006 but was not implemented until now. The two candidates, Ian Jarvis and Karen Hallenbeck, both seem to feel they could lend an unbiased and attentive ear toward their fellow residents' concerns, of which, officials admit, there are quite a few.
In just the past month and a half of the new year public concerns have been raised over a myriad of issues related to official Copake town actions. In early January, local auto mechanics expressed feelings that they were being treated unfairly and unequally by aesthetic regulations for their auto storage areas, and were nearly denied permits. Copake farmland owner Salvatore Cascino is currently seeking legal action against the town for not allowing him to build on his property, which he says he feels is a violation of his rights. Cascino is, in turn, being taken to court by the town for the illegal filling of wetlands with construction debris, an issue other residents would like to see remedied by the town as soon as possible.
Other residents have taken issue with the Park Commission for not following town protocol at its meetings and allegedly trying to exclude people it doesn't like from obtaining membership. Additionally, concerns have been raised by a member of the Ethics Board that Town Supervisor Reggie Crowley tried to intimidate him into releasing privileged information by sending police to his home.
These concerns and others could be investigated by the ombudsman, if they are officially presented to whomever is selected. The ombudsman's job would be to attempt to find an acceptable resolution for both the citizens and the town.
Jarvis, who sat on the committee to rewrite the policy manual in 2006 and was instrumental in creating the ombudsman position, says he feels serving on the unpaid post would offer the town a way to heal some of the unresolved issues that have existed for some time. "I'm cognizant of the frustration citizens in Copake feel, not with particular boards or politicians, but with the internal nature of politics," Jarvis said. "An ombudsman would bridge the gap between citizens and the government, without having a political agenda."
Town Board Member Linda Gabaccia, a Democrat, described the relationship not as a gap, but as an "abyss" she feels was widened in 2007 - the year Crowley and the other Republican board members came into power.
"We have a concerned and active community," Gabaccia said, "I think this appointment will go a long way to help."
Board Member Daniel Tompkins, a Republican, is in support of the new position as well.
"We have a lot of debate in this town," he said, "this is something the town needs."
Hallenbeck, who has openly expressed her frustration with the operations of the Park Commission in recent weeks, says she asked to be considered for the job out of love for the area and her ability to listen to every side of a dispute. "I feel I have a fairly level head," she said, "and I have five kids so I know how to deal with people not being happy with each other."
Hallenbeck, who works as an assistant to the financial advisor of Dutchess County Water and Wastewater, sits on the Copake Economic Advisory Board and in the past has chaired Lions Club fundraising campaigns for hearing care, as well the Dutchess County Salvation Army Advisory Council. Due to her past issues with the Park Commission she said she would not have an issue recusing herself from addressing complaints related to that body.
Jarvis says he hopes, if appointed, he can lower frustration on both sides of these and any other issues. "I want to be an honest broker and have an open office, not just a mailbox (for complaints)," he said. "I'll tell people I hear their problem and help show them there are forms of ways to deal with them."
Jarvis has a background operating an international manufacturing business and is now semi-retired, working part-time as a consultant. Jarvis moved to Copake in 2000 with his wife and says he will make himself as available as possible if asked to serve.
To reach reporter Jamie Larson, please call 518-828-1616, ext. 2269, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Staff
COPAKE-The Town Board unanimously adopted the first local law of the New Year at its February 12 meeting, creating the positions of court clerk and deputy court clerk. The new law formalizes what the board agreed to do at its organization meeting January 3.
The full-time court clerk position is held by Margaret Hosier, who put up a successful fight last month to save her hours and benefits from threatened cuts.
Mrs. Hosier will work a minimum of 30 hours/week and be paid $13.80 hour. She will receive health benefits at a cost of about $400/month to the town, according to Deputy Supervisor Joseph LaPorta, who presided over a public hearing on the matter and the regular monthly board meeting that followed Thursday night.
Supervisor Reginald Crowley was out of town.
Also at the February meeting, Steven Winkley, head geologist with the New York Rural Water Association, gave an hour-long presentation about Copake's groundwater resources.
In compiling his hydrogeological analysis, Mr. Winkley consulted the U.S. Geological Survey, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the state Department of Health. He reviewed existing surficial geology maps and conducted his own field mapping.
Mr. Winkley discussed yields from bedrock wells and wells in what are called Walloomsac formations. He also addressed public and community water systems, as well as potential sources of contamination, areas of hydrogeologic sensitivity and what level of development or density of housing the area can sustain.
He did note that there are some areas around the lakes and in Copake Falls where wells showed elevated levels of nitrates.
His report is available from the town clerk and will soon be posted on the town website, www.copake.org.
In other business, the Town Board agreed to ask the town attorney to look into the legality of putting up sponsor advertisement signs along the back fence at the Little League baseball field at the town park during baseball season.
Michael Bradway, superintendent of parks, and Krista Goodacre, the chair of the park commission, spoke in favor of the uniform four-by-eight-foot signs, which would generate funds to pay for youngsters who otherwise could not afford to play baseball.
Planning Board Chair Marcia Becker said the sign idea is the subject of debate, and some residents are opposed to the "commercialization of the public park." She pointed out that "the Little League does not own the park."
Mr. Bradway noted that the Little League spent $7,100 for improvements to the ballfield.
Before a decision can be made, Councilman Bob Sacks suggested that the town code be reviewed to see whether such signs are permitted.
In personnel matters, the board accepted the resignation of Louis Kibler as chairman of the Board of Ethics.
Councilman Sacks presented Charles Dodson with a distinguished service award for his work "above and beyond the call of duty" on the Economic Advisory Board. Mr. Dodson has resigned as chair of that board.
The Town Board appointed Leslie Wood as the new chair and Karen Hallenbeck as secretary.