Monthly Archives: August 2008

The beetle died immediately

We’ve gotten a lot of questions publicly and privately about our beetle capture, but for the record, the bug(missing a leg at the time of capture) was at all times in total captivity, after which it was entirely and completely and 100% euthanize without ever being outside a closed and secure environment.  The beetle is, was, and will remain totally dead.  In no way should beetles EVER be transported outside the quarantine zone, something we are now very very aware of.

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The WoMag memo

TO:                  All Employees

FROM:            Gareth Charter

RE:                   Worcester Magazine Transition

DATE:             August 27, 2008

And so we begin…

I’m pleased to report that we are scheduled to close on our purchase of Worcester Magazine on Friday.

First, I’d like you to know how much I appreciate the enthusiasm that many of you continue to express about this expansion opportunity. Notwithstanding a poorly done story by the T&G (we might as well get used to that); the feedback from you and so many others in the public has been thoughtful and overwhelmingly positive.

The “upside” for Worcester County is that we are building a media organization for the future that will keep this market competitive. As the T&G declines in revenue, readers, pages, employees, morale, and thus … relevance, we have an enormous opportunity. They are increasingly farming more jobs overseas, while we continue to grow.

To that point, we have determined that we will be hiring nine employees from Worcester Publishing. Those employees we were unable to hire have been notified. It would be wonderful if we could hire every employee, but that’s just not practical.

n As we merge the Holden Landmark Corp. and Worcester Magazine, we are retaining 88% of the combined company’s employment base. That’s not 100%, but we’ve been growing as a company by being very strategic when we expand our employee base. We already have many talented employees and central service centers that have the capacity to serve our needs in this transition. We care deeply about our relationship with you and pride ourselves in having avoided a culture of layoffs. We are hiring the “net” additional number of employees we need to meet our initial publishing objectives.

n We will certainly revisit our initial assumptions about staffing should it become necessary. Again, we don’t have a reputation for laying-off employees and we don’t want to earn one.

n I will be assuming the publisher role for Worcester Magazine, and will try to uphold the many contributions Allen Fletcher and Craig Thornton routinely made in my expanded duties. We had hoped Craig would stay on with us but he’s seen this as a natural time to pursue other opportunities and we wish him well. Craig and Allen will always be part of the family!

While I won’t attempt to introduce every new employee joining Holden Landmark Corporation (HLC) today (but see my note below about such an occasion), or recognize every employee who will be called upon to contribute to the combined company’s success in one way or another, there are several highlights I want to share right away.

I want to emphasize the fact that while we couldn’t hire everyone currently working for Worcester Publishing, that it was not a reflection on the individuals not hired, but instead due to our existing resources. We are highly respectful of what’s been accomplished at the magazine and all of the employees who have served it. The union of our two companies creates a powerful opportunity to efficiently serve this market and build a media company ready to respond to changing needs and economic cycles. It also provides opportunities for individual growth. We have several outstanding HLC employees who we have looked forward to promoting when we saw the right opportunity.

First, I’m thrilled to announce that Kathy Real will, of course, continue in her role as Advertising Director for WM. Kathy has been with the magazine nearly 20 years and we are fortunate to have such a positive, dedicated and talented executive continuing to lead WoMag’s sales and marketing effort. (In case you are wondering, we’d be rewriting our nepotism policy today if it would have prohibited having a fabulous mother-daughter team in our employ!). Kathy will report to me.

I am also pleased to announce that Jim Keogh, a 21-year veteran journalist who currently serves as editor-in-chief of our newspaper group will personally assume the helm of Editor at Worcester Magazine. Jim has earned countless awards for his editorial leadership and writing and has earned an opportunity like this. Jim has been at The Landmark for the last 21 years, as reporter, columnist, news editor and editor. In that time he’s won awards from the New England Press Association, the National Newspaper Association and Suburban Newspapers of America for his column and feature writing. In 2005, he and photographer Steven King accompanied a mission group to the Dominican Republic and produced the section “Mission of Hope: A La Romana Diary,” which earned the paper national and local awards for coverage of a racial issue, feature writing and photojournalism.

Jim is a Holy Cross graduate and has lived in Worcester since 1986. He has also worked as a freelance movie critic/columnist at The Worcester Telegram & Gazette since 1986, with his column, Film Clips, appearing weekly in the Time Out and Etc. sections. (He will be giving up that role as a result of his move to Worcester Mag). Jim will continue to report to me.

The newsroom at Worcester Mag will also be buoyed by the addition of Steven King, who in our view is among the best photographers in the state. In fact, in 2006, Steve was recognized as the New England Press Association’s “Photographer of the Year.” Steven will continue to report to Jim.

Doreen Manning is joining our company as Arts & Entertainment Editor for Worcester Magazine and Calendar Editor for Bay State Parent. Doreen is the former publisher and editor of The Beat magazine, a monthly arts & entertainment publication that served the metro Boston and Central Massachusetts area from 1999 to 2007. Before her leap into independent publishing, Manning was an Advertorial Supplemental Editor at the Boston Globe, and began her career at the Boston Phoenix and Stuff Magazine. Most recently, Manning had established Beat Ballyhoo, a media relations consultation firm which assisted arts organizations and individuals with their public relations as well as with print and electronic marketing. Doreen will report to Jim.

I’m also pleased to announce that as a result of the above changes, Jason Lefferts will become Editor of The Landmark. Jason will also continue his role as editor of the Fitchburg Pride, splitting his week between our Holden and Leominster offices. Prior to joining our company in Nov. 2006 Jason was a Deputy Team Leader at Regan Communications, a political public relations company in Boston. Prior to joining Regan, Jason was a general assignment reporter for the Lowell Sun for nearly five years, and previous to that an Editor and Reporter at Community Newspaper Company and Suburban World Newspapers. Jason has also taught journalism and writing at Northeastern University as an adjunct professor.

Lifelong Leominster resident Cheryl Cuddahy is being promoted to Editor of the Leominster Champion and will be supported by Erik Radvon who is being promoted to Assistant Editor of the Leominster Champion. Erik will once again focus exclusively on Leominster news, while Cheryl will add to her Community Editor role by assuming full responsibility for the paper’s content each week. Karen Mann is also being promoted to Assistant Editor of the Fitchburg Pride to recognize her continued excellent work and support Jason in his split role. To that end we also are thrilled to be able to count further on the very experienced Landmark staff, which includes Assistant Editor Linda Lehans and reporters Phyllis Booth and Melissa McKeon. We are currently also interviewing for a full-time reporter and part-time photographer to add to the Landmark staff.

Carrie Wattu is being reinstated as Editor of Bay State Parent magazine. Her contributions to Bay State Parent span the last eight years, including serving as Editor from June 2000 through December 2003 when she moved to part-time calendar editor and contributing writer … and mother to newborn twins! Carrie is ready to re-assume her former role and will replace Susan Scully Petroni, who is leaving our company. We salute Susan for her many accomplishments during this period and wish her well.
Carrie will work closely with the existing Bay State Parent team plus Doreen Manning.

Laura Lepard is adding to her role with our company, as she becomes a part-time Sales Assistant at Worcester Magazine. Laura will continue her current role as a part-time Bay State Parent sales executive as well.

The entire WM Advertising Account Executive team (Helen Linnehan, Kim Sansoucy, Sandy Richard, Kelly Mahlert and Mary Ellen Bouthiller) is staying with WM, reporting to Kathy; Kim Vasseur is also staying on as Art Director of WM, reporting to Production Manager Don Cloutier; Scott Zoback will continue as News Editor, reporting to Jim; and Administrative Associate Nysheka Briddell will change to a part-time role, reporting to me.

Look for more detail to be reported in our newspapers next week. Suffice it to say, we are blessed to have talented individuals who can inherit new opportunities through this expansion.

Looking ahead…

I’ll be organizing an after-work gathering sometime in the next month or so to introduce the staff of Worcester Magazine to our legacy employees and talk a bit about each company’s history. We’ll gather at a nice location, talk about our goals relating to this deal and toast to our future success.

I’m also going to organize a group to begin planning our annual holiday dinner. New employees will be pleased to know that we have a tradition of gathering in December for a bit of holiday cheer. We invite employees and a guest for a lovely dinner, some dancing and a review of our accomplishments. Of course, the company foots the bill, but you make it all possible.

Much news will be flowing from me over the next little while.

Let me close by thanking all of you in advance for your open-mindedness as we embark on this journey. There’s no shortage of challenges that characterize life at large daily newspapers these days, but that’s not who we are. We are a strong combination of highly reputable community weeklies, one of the best regional parenting magazines in the country, and now, we add an award-winning alternative newsweekly – all supported by online operations primed for growth. We’re nimble, committed to our readers and advertisers, and engaged in our communities. We’ve grown every business we’ve acquired and worked hard to preserve the respect of the individuals and/or families that entrusted their businesses to us.

I salute you all as you absorb today’s changes and ask for your continued support and input. Great newspapers, magazines and companies aren’t built without lots of tough days along the way. But rest assured, our communities and markets will be well served by this union. And our competitors had better roll their up sleeves!

Cheers!

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We got the bastard

No official photos here…this is our very own, captured this morning, sonofabitch Asian Longhorned Beetle.

(We were going to put a newspaper next to him, terrorist victim style, but he is a fast bugger.)

We’re pretty sure we’re violated a Federal Directive by transporting him but for you guys, anything.

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Rushton at the Convention

Worcester Magazine didn’t send anyone out to the Democratic Convention this week, but there’s a healthy collection of Woo-natives out there.  The list includes City Councilor Rick Rushton, who is blogging about his experience.

It ranges from a bit inside baseball to a bit…well, wide-eyed, but all-in-all, a nice take from the front lines.

last night John Kerry hosted the Massachusetts delegation at the hotel. At the reception, standing off to the side with several people from Worcester we had several people including former Congressman, and President of the NAACP,  Kwasi Mfume bee line over to us and ask us if Ted was coming. We didn’t have an answer for them, but it provided us an answer. Senator Ted will have a huge impact on this convention. And what an impact it will be. Contrary to what the mainstream media is reporting Ted is coming.  At the delegation’s morning breakfast it slipped out. Our hotel was already abuzz, because Caroline Kennedy is staying with us. She is in the words of Joe Biden “gorgeous”, and every bit as classy in person. Ted’s impending arrival took the energy to a new level. Worcester’s John Brisette, who is in charge of the Massachusetts delegation handed me a blue bracelet with “Tedstrong” imprinted on it.”

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Union Station Parking Garage: Instructions required

The Daily Worcesteria used the new “Garage Mahal” for the first time yesterday for a daytrip into Boston; it was….nice.  Still, a few things to improve on.

1. WHERE TO?: When you leave the garage on the first floor and cross over into Union Station, there’s zero signage about where to go if you want to find the busport.  You end up facing a wall in what used to be Union Station’s back hallway.  Now, it’s a main entry point.  To your left is the sign that reads “Parking Lot,” to the right is a security office with a hallway that leads to the general station…but doesn’t tell you that.  If you don’t know your way, it could become a guessing game.

2. I GOTTA PAY FOR THIS?: Yes, the parking costs are clearly displayed when you enter the garage.  But on the way out, the sign reminding and directing customers to pay in the garage “lobby” is located on a support beam ten feet above your head.  So while we noticed it, the eight cars that were clustered at the exit trying to get out without paying (or figuring out how to pay) obviously weren’t as observant.  Mayhem.  And it wasn’t just them.  At least four other people asked directions to get to the “lobby,” which was right in front of them.

3. HOW AM I GONNA PAY FOR THIS?: So I go to the pay lobby, walk up to the automated machines and…wait a minute.  No credit cards accepted at this time?  “Sorry for the inconvenience.”  OK, no biggie.  I’ll just go hit the ATM in Union Station.  I go back to the doors and….wait a minute.  I’m locked out?  Seriously?  This was just bizarre.  If you take the last train in from Boston on a Saturday night and get in at midnight and don’t have cash on you, get ready to explore the Canal District looking for an ATM.  (For the record, we’d like to thank the stragglers leaving the station who, sensing our frustration, held the doors for us to get back in.)

Anyway, final analysis?  Nice garage.  Very empty.  Signage needs to be improved.

Oh, and unlock the damn door or start taking credit cards.

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When street vendors are kids…

CLAYTON, CA (KGO) — Two young East Bay girls are trying to find out if you really can fight city hall. The youngsters are battling to get their produce stand back after the city of Clayton shut them down.

The mayor himself is getting involved in this issue; he says the produce stand, operated by two young sisters, had to be shut down because of public safety and a zoning ordinance. But members of the Lewis family say – we have just begun to fight.

On a Clayton street corner is where 11-year-old Katie and 3-year- old Sabrina Lewis had been selling their families surplus fruits and veggies – stuff like:

“Zucchini, melons, tomatoes, radishes,” said Sabrina Lewis.

They did it for maybe four hours on Saturday mornings to make a little money. They haven’t sold a thing since the police showed up recently in response to one complaint to the mayor’s office.”

Man, and we thought we had it bad!

Full article here

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Park it

The uproar over the proposal to eliminate free parking for disabled veterans and handicapped drivers may be over. The Off Street Parking Board voted on Tuesday night to approve a new set of regulations that many are viewing as a compromise. Starting September 1st, any drive with handicapped or disabled veteran plates or placards will be able to park for up to 2 hours for free in the Pearl Elm, Federal Square, and Major Taylor garages. Once all four garages go mechanical (only Union Station garage is currently), Worcester residents with the appropriate plates/placards who preregister with DPW will be eligible for the 2 free hours. Anyone going beyond the two hours would have to pay for the full stay. Larry Raymond, Director of the Worcester Office on Disability, says that the agreement “was a compromise, but we’re pleased that it now includes all four garages, and it was the short term parkers we were most concerned about.”

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