By: Forrest R. Church, Publisher
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
CAUGHT MY EYE – Facebook insanity continued from last week’s column … The powers that be at this social media giant believe that Wauseon Senior Center activities are politically motivated and against their platform’s standards, including after an appeal). I could probably write an entire column on their irritating decisions over the years and how I see that the “powers that be” in the Silicon Valley are trying to dictate control of the news, but I do not want to say anything I regret later (maybe in my next column). At the end of the day, we have 23,000 that follow our Facebook page alone. If I could shift those followers somehow to a different social media option I would. To be honest, the only thing keeping me involved with Facebook is knowing so many depend on us via this platform for local news and sports updates so we put up with them.
IN THE MAIL – We received a beautiful handwritten card from the Wauseon area giving our entire team a big appreciation on our efforts. “Dear Village Reporter Staff, I am so thankful for the quality of your paper and its vital role in society. Your paper delivers an informative, entertaining package of news, features, photographs, and fair and balanced unbiased journalism! It’s a must-read! I’m so pleased that our community is served by a newspaper like The Village Reporter! Thank you! Bravo! The article about our Wauseon school levy was amazing! Well said! I wish everyone could read it!” -Wauseon Reader Let me state, no matter what you do for a profession a “pat on the back” can go a long way. Which circles back around, who in your day-to-day routine can you encourage? That clerk at the gas station that is yelled at all day may need a “pick me up”. That server bringing lunch may need treated better than just a servant. Food for thought (pun intended).
CROSSED MY MIND – Local village / city council and school board meetings. These meetings in the two county area are often slammed together, typically every other Monday. If our reporting staff was 4x what it currently is, we could not physically attend every meeting (our goal). It is not the same calling the next day to interview a mayor or obtain meeting minutes vs sitting at the meeting first person. Note, those council and school boards that provide their gatherings via Youtube video helps the media as we can then review the meetings back at the office (as can community members). Across both Williams and Fulton Counties these meetings take place every other Monday between 5 – 7 p.m. A few towns/schools will have their individual town gatherings at the same time on the same night, once a month. Over the years one desire I have is to see if these meeting could be scheduled different to encourage media and local residents to attend. Obviously, no matter how hard we try, we cannot be at multiple places at the same time.
There are a few meetings scheduled monthly that are on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; those work out nicely. The easy answer is, hire more writers. This is not possible when in a 30 day month we have two days that are slammed with 16-20 meetings at the same time and then the other 28 days have few to no gatherings (when we work more on sports and feature coverage). I have also seen this from time to time with festivals taking place at the same time as well. If you have a float built you may want to attend every town festival in the two county area. But when festivals and parades happen 10-20 miles apart at the same time on the same date, it is impossible. This also spreads out possible visitors to our town celebrations who have to pick and choose. I doubt this is given much consideration when meetings are scheduled at the beginning of each year. Most towns look at when meeting times are best for their board members and to not conflict with town/school activities, which makes perfect sense. On the flip side, offsetting meetings in the two county area when possible could draw a lot more people to the gatherings if that is the desire. Move meetings from Monday nights, please, lol!
POST OFFICE ISSUES – This is a challenging time at the newspaper concerning delivery. We have always used the United States Post Office for delivery, at least since as far back as I can tell (our archives from the late 1800’s may show otherwise). We of course received some hefty postage increases as the USPS tries to balance its books, as we all have/will, but unfortunately during this time frame service has tanked in dependability, significantly. We used to simply print your newspaper and send all papers, to the SFC Post Office distribution center which used to be in Toledo which was a nice option. This distribution center was then was moved to Pontiac, Michigan some time ago. Since this move it has been a nightmare. Several years ago, I received a call from the Liberty Center Post Office in Henry County to tell me that all our papers (all towns) arrived from Pontiac to their office instead of each town being delivered properly. This is one of hundreds of similar stories we could tell, you can imagine the stories a group of publishers gathered at a convention have.
So, in order to prevent Michigan from losing your newspapers, we hand deliver newspapers (in distribution sequence) to all Post Offices in both Williams and Fulton Counties each week. You can imagine that this is a lot of work. A poor comparison would be if you had a large volume of Christmas cards to send and you couldn’t depend on mailing them like normal by just putting them in your mailbox with the flag up, rather needing to deliver them yourself to each town (#gasexpense, #payroll expense).
We do this in order to avoid the Pontiac Distribution Center when possible and honestly our local postal workers for the most part, are a pleasure to deal with. The problem? We still must send papers outside the Williams and Fulton County areas (newspapers we cannot hand deliver to area post offices) to the main hub in Michigan per periodical postal regulations. Thus, you can imagine when on May 10th when I received an email that one of our Henry County subscribers had finally received their April 27th newspaper, that my BP spiked, Michigan has lost/delayed newspapers again. Last week we also received notice an entire town received their tub of newspapers a week after we mailed them. And a late bit of news received as I send this column to the team to process and put on a newspaper page, one reader just received a January newspaper in mid May! REALLY!
I bring this up to keep our readers informed. We use the best subscription software possible; it literally ensures your newspapers are delivered as fast as humanly possible, we spend a lot of money on this software. But like you, when you put those stamped letters in the mail, you are at the mercy of the postal system for delivery, as are we.
For those that follow Northwest Ohio Rep. Bob Latta, he has a major campaign underway to return this distribution center back to Toledo. If you feel moving our distribution center back to Northwest Ohio is a good idea, please contact Mr. Latta’s office to state your support, it could be a start for improved local service not only for periodicals, but all our mail needs (personal and businesses).
In my discussions with Mr. Latta’s office, I echoed something former President Trump said, that maybe mail delivery needs to be opened to the free marketplace system? Nothing since that comment has developed as best as I can tell. Competition in business generally keeps prices low and improves quality of goods and services. Maybe just the threat of this would turn things around, instead of simply throwing more money at the problem like the government typically does? I will probably have my kneecaps broken for saying this, that’s okay.
Now all this has been stated, including noting again our efforts to deliver our own mail to each local post office in the two county area each week, our staff works hard to ensure our readers receive their local news quickly. I cannot think of anything else we can do to provide quicker delivery of news content whether its on physical paper or digital. On top of the traditional print product that will eventually come in the mail, we operate more like a daily newspaper for our readers.
(1) Subscribers have full access to news on our website www.thevillagereporter.com, no need to wait for the print product to arrive. Example: Thursday night’s council meeting may be on our website for paid subscribers on Friday, just log in and enjoy. If you wait for the print product to come, you may not have that coverage until the following Wednesday/Thursday when your paper arrives in the mail (or possibly much later depending on the USPS). I am only noting however that about half of our readers utilize this service that comes for free with their subscription. If you are a paid subscriber and have not obtained your login information please email Casey at email@example.com for your user name and password.
(2) On Tuesday nights / Wednesday mornings each week paid subscribers receive the E-Edition which is in full color and the same as the print edition. No need to wait for the United State Postal Service, no delays. View the newspaper on your home computer or smart device of your choice. Again email Casey if you need this added.
(3) Of course the traditional print product will arrive in the mail, hopefully without delay each week.
MOREL MUSHROOM HUNTING – I love this time of the year. Each Spring when it becomes warm enough for the elusive morel mushrooms to pop in our area, it feels like a treat to venture to the deep woods. Put down the “smart phone” that I’m convinced ruins life, get away from the computer (newspaper) for a bit and enjoy nature. Let life slow down for a bit, even if for an hour. It’s a celebration of warmer weather and saying goodbye to winter.
Since being a kid, I’ve heard stories from the grandparents going to upper Michigan and finding morel mushrooms by the five-gallon buckets full. I’ve seen photos of relatives in the 60’s and 70’s with morel mushrooms looking to approach nearly a foot tall. I can remember being a short chunky kid and tromping around Kaiser Lake in Clark County, Ohio looking for them with the same relatives, never having luck. Then as an adult I started to break through with a little SPORadic success. In recent years our boys have joined in on a few hunts and we have had some good father/son time (they found some too, even the six-year-old at the time).
Last year was the best season I ever experienced, I was almost tripping over them. This year I have found three in Williams County (wish you knew where, right), they felt pretty fresh – one is pictured, about 4 inches tall. I’m guessing they are a bit later this year due to the cold weather we had in early May. The peak appears to be this week but we will see, they are very unpredictable. You can spend hours in the woods and find nothing, then mow your yard that night and possibly find them in areas you would never think to look.
For those who have never gone mushroom hunting you probably think we may all be nuts, that’s okay, stay out of the woods and our mushrooms, lol. If you do try this venture make sure you do your research and know what you are eating as the wrong mushrooms can be deadly. If you do find a plate full of these fried delicacies, or maybe diced in an omelet, or even put on top of a pizza you know just how tasty they can be. More importantly, you know the values and peace that comes to getting away to the woods for some valuable downtime.
Do you agree or disagree with me? Have thoughts? Send a note if you like, firstname.lastname@example.org.