It is my claim that our new office space, at 51 The Square in Bellows Falls, is the coolest newspaper office in at least New England, if not the whole country. And on what basis do I make that claim?
It's in an awesome location, it has been the site of several live concerts, it's a flatiron-shaped building, the interior walls have a great color scheme, we have a huge mural and five other paintings on the outside of the building, we've created an art gallery in our front window area, and we have a working disco ball. Yup, a disco ball, hence the title of this column.
If you know of a cooler newspaper office space, let me know, and I'll reconsider my claim.
It is no easy process, starting up a newspaper, especially one like The Messenger, which covers Southern Vermont from Rutland to Brattleboro and into New Hampshire, with a core coverage area of some 45 towns.
Everything from town to feature headers had to be created from scratch, and decisions as mundane as font type and sizes (and yes, readers love our larger type size - thank you Baby Boomers!) for text and headlines had to be worked out, decisions that take on a disproportionate frustration factor when traveling between a couple of different computer networks.
Don't even get me started about installing phone and Internet lines.
But now this is our seventh issue, start-up bugs are getting ironed out, and the response from our readers has been wonderful. Everyday people come into our office and congratulate us, and Co-editor Joe Milliken and I are constantly being stopped when we're out and about and asked about The Messenger. People love having a great, local paper back, written by long-time local writers, a paper with lots of information, pictures and personality.
Now that we're getting settled in and have a little room to breath, Joe and I will be adding some other new features to the paper as well, all part of our plan to make this the best weekly in the region.
Joe has already done CD and DVD reviews, a musician's profile (go Spectris!), and Jatoba in this issue has our new Musician's Spotlight header. This Mind Dancing column will be a regular feature, and in future issues we plan on adding chef, cook and restaurant profiles in our food section, an Athletes in the Classroom feature in sports, regular health and finance pages, and profiles of local businesses and services.
That's just for starters. We see The Messenger as the "new and exciting go-to" paper for readers and advertisers in this region.
If our readers have any other recommendations for things they'd like to see regularly in our pages, please email us with your suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Think of The Messenger as your paper.
Essentially Worthless Things We Could Get Rid of to Reduce Our Carbon Footprint: Those little plastic coffee creamers. Nobody ever uses just one of those things. If I have to use them, it takes four to six. Get real - triple the size if they have to stay around. While they're at it, do the same thing with those little ketchup packages.
Website Recommendation of the Week: www.gumbopages.com/music/insurgent, a roots rock, insurgent country site (off-shoot of a site itself dedicated to preserving New Orleans music) dedicated to a lot of bands you may not have heard of but should have. What exactly is "insurgent country?" As defined by Bloodshot Records, it's music that "applies a steel-toed boot to the rhinestone-encrusted ass of commercialized country crap." Check it out.