Friday, July 10, 2009

Cavendish Update 7/10/09 Message/Eagle Times Close

This issue of the Cavendish Update is made possible by the Cavendish Community and Conservation Association (CCCA), a non-profit membership organization that is dedicated to the conservation of land and natural resources and to the preservation of historic sites within the context of sustainable economic growth. FMI: PO Box 605, Cavendish VT 05142 or 802-226-7736

The 7/10/09Cavendish Update Contains:
1. Eagle Times and Message Close 7/10/09
2. Pat Rankin Memorial
3. The 1930’s Return to Cavendish
4. Cavendish Related News
5. Cavendish Fletcher Community Library Artist of the month for July 2009
6. Cavendish Community Fund Schedules Annual Dinner
7. Events
8. CCCA Newsletter

1. Eagle Times and The Message Closes Friday 7/10/09
Article published Jul 10, 2009 Rutland Herald by Susan Smallheer
CLAREMONT, N.H. — As one staffer put it, the Eagle ran out of Time Thursday.
The Eagle-Times, a daily newspaper that served the city of Claremont and communities on both sides of the Connecticut River, published its last edition today.

Harvey Hill, publisher and owner of the paper, told employees Thursday afternoon that he would file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy today. Employees were told to turn in their keys at the end of their shift Thursday.

"We did our best to continue the operations, but the economy and the changes in the newspaper industry have made it impossible to continue this business. Thank you for your support over the years and the dedication you showed to his newspaper," he wrote in a staffwide e-mail.

"It's the paradigm shift," said one staffer, referring to the changes affecting the newspaper industry in New England and beyond, from the troubles at the Boston Globe to small-town Claremont.

"I'm saddened; it's awful close to home," said John Mitchell, president and publisher of the Rutland Herald, which competed head-to-head with the Eagle in many Vermont towns. "I thought smaller papers were doing OK for the most part."

Eric Francis of White River Junction, who wrote for The Spectator and the Eagle-Times as a freelancer for several years, said the staff worked to get the final edition completed Thursday afternoon.

He said that the closing shocked everyone. "Harvey said it was just economics," Francis said, noting the past year or so had been "rocky," with the papers experiencing a high turnover rate in editors.

Staffers said the closing affects not just the Eagle-Times, but Hill's other publications including The Message, a shopper based in Chester, Vt., and the Connecticut Valley Spectator of Lebanon, N.H., both weekly publications. Hill bought the popular Message a few years ago, and started the Spectator in 2002.

The news shocked not just the employees, but people who got their daily dose of hometown news and sports from the 7,800-circulation paper. On Thursday, the front page included news about the rebuilding of Aumand's, a furniture store in Walpole, N.H., which burned a year ago, and a story about how Josh the camel from Lempster, N.H., had made the record books being the first camel to make it up Mount Washington in the White Mountains.

"Holy smokes," said former state Sen. Edgar May of Springfield, who was the subject of a Sunday magazine feature earlier in the week.

"I have a special affection for American journalism for obvious reasons for having worked in it for many years," said May, who won a Pulitzer Prize for journalism in the 1960s. "It's a very sad time when any newspaper dies because a newspaper has been the centerpiece of changing public policy and improving the lives of so many people," he said.

"The closing of a newspaper means a little piece of democracy has died," he said. "There are some very important issues that have required skilled, intensive reporting that only newspapers can do."

May's comments were typical of people contacted late Thursday, as news of the papers' closure became public.

Hill, in an e-mail to employees, said he and his wife Christina could no longer afford subsidizing the paper. Hill bought the Eagle-Times about 15 years ago after a successful career in the paper manufacturing business.

Hill said he and his wife had paid for the employees' health insurance through the end of July, and that employees would get their final paycheck, plus vacation pay, next week.

He attributed the papers' closing to the economic crisis, as well as the widespread problems in the newspaper industry.

"It's very sad," said Bob Flint, executive director of the Springfield Regional Development Corp., who had worked with Hill on a variety of projects over the years.

"On a lot of levels, I appreciate what Harvey and Christina have done. But I know it's been a struggle. The closing will leave a huge void in this region," Flint said.

The Eagle-Times was created in the 1960s with the merger of two newspapers: the Claremont Eagle and the Times-Reporter, which was based in Springfield. For years, the paper operated out of an office in downtown Claremont on Sullivan Street, but eventually it built a new plant on the outskirts of the city on River Street – with a wonderful view of Vermont.

Matt DeRienzo, now the publisher of the Torrington (Conn.) Register, started at the Eagle in 1999 as a reporter and left in 2003 as managing editor.

"I think that Harvey and Christina have sunk so much of their personal money and time into the papers, they are not in it for the money. They cared about the community," DeRienzo said.

DeRienzo said Hill, a native son of Charlestown, N.H., grew up on a farm just down the road from the paper's location on River Road. He returned to the area after a career in paper manufacturing, got bored with retirement and bought his hometown paper.

But in a perfect indication of how news spreads in the 21st century, DeRienzo said he didn't hear about the closing of the Eagle from the Associated Press news wire, or a telephone call from Hill or fellow staffers, or even an e-mail, but from the social networking site Facebook.

A friend, a former staffer of the Spectator, now a freelancer in New Hampshire, posted news of the paper's closing on her Facebook page, he said.

2. Pat Rankin Memorial
Pat Rankin, a long-standing member of the Cavendish Community, died in April. A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday July 11 from 3:00 pm -5:00 pm at the Cavendish Inn (Glimmerstone), 1589 Main St., Cavendish, Vermont. There will be an opportunity to share thoughts and memories about Pat. A light buffet supper will be served. Potluck is optional but welcome.

3. The 1930’s Return to Cavendish
“Even though the October 1929 stock market crash did not cause businesses to close in Cavendish, the ensuing Depression certainly did make life harder for a great many local people. Gay Brothers Woolen Mill found 1932 the worst year it had had in twenty years. It continued to operate, but sometimes on a part time basis, laying off some workers for a few weeks or months or cutting down to a four-day workweek. This was not too difficult for single young people…but four-day workweeks or lay-offs were devastating to those with families to support and especially those who had to pay rent and buy milk and groceries. Many who had always worked hard and supported their families found that now they had to ask for help and go “on the Town.” In the book “Chubb Hill Farm and Cavendish, Vermont” by Barbara Kingsbury, also records how the number of people in town rose from twenty to twenty-five a year in the 1920’s to 85 by 1934.

There are many similarities between the economy of the 1930s and today. For that reason, the Cavendish Historical Society has chosen the 1930’s as their theme for the year. As more is learned more about how Cavendish weathered the “great depression,” some of this history translates into very practical solutions for the current economically difficult times. On Sunday, July 12, starting at 2 pm, there will be a car show of 1930’s cars, as well as a workshop that offers 1930’s practical solutions for dealing with 21st century household chores. Interestingly, not only was house keeping cheaper than today’s counterparts, but it was also free of many of the harsh chemicals now being used. Both events will take place at the Cavendish Historical Society Museum on Route 131 in Cavendish. FMI: 802-226-7807 or

4. Cavendish Related News
No vote to Drive Thru Window in Ludlow

5. Cavendish Fletcher Community Library Artist of the month for July 2009
A native of Vermont, Ellen and her husband Jim Parrish moved to Proctorsville, Vermont in 1990 and opened a bed and breakfast which they ran for 18 years. Ellen's interest in photography began early in her life when she was given a small "Brownie" camera at age six.

A few years ago a latent interest in painting led to watercolor classes at the Fletcher Farm School with local artist Robert O'Brien. Later she took painting classes under Patty Dean and Robert Sydorowich. Ellen finds the Vermont landscapes and her love of gardening an inspiration for her watercolors and photography.

A selection of photographs and watercolors are on display at the Redfield Proctor Room through the month of July and may be viewed during the library’s open hours.

6. Cavendish Community Fund Schedules Annual Dinner
The Cavendish Community Fund has announced that it will hold a benefit, fundraising dinner at the Cavendish Inn on August 1st at 7:00 p.m. The Cavendish Inn is located on Route 131 between Cavendish and Proctorsville villages.

Barbara Dickey, chairperson of the CCF said, “The dinner has become a regular summer event in Cavendish and is a terrific opportunity to support a truly grassroots effort to promote local programs of community benefit. By bringing together several community minded residents for an enjoyable evening, we can sponsor programs all year long.”

The Fund has supported numerous artistic, cultural and educational projects, programs and events. This summer for example the Fund is underwriting part of the summer concert series on the Proctorsville green. Last summer CCF enabled presentation of the Cavendish Chronicles – a locally written and produced play about Cavendish history.

The Fund’s mission is to maintain the sense of community that typifies Vermont small towns and that gets lost in the fast paced life that modern society demands. By sponsoring local events for local people, CCF hopes to add significant educational and cultural value to the quality of life in Cavendish.

Tim Jefferson, host at the Cavendish Inn promises a terrific menu of mid-summer fare with dessert pastries from Crow’s bakery, and with an evening of special entertainment. To purchase dinner tickets or for more information, please call Robin Timko at (802) 226-7736.

7. Events
July 11 (Saturday): Pat Rankin Celebration of Life 3-5 pm (see article 2)
• West Coast Swing Dance Class from 7 to 8 p.m at the Opera House above Crows Bakery on Depot St. Proctorsville. No partner necessary! $10 a person for instructor ($5 if you are 18 or under) and $1 contribution for space at the door!

July 12 (Sunday): The 1930’s exhibit, car show and workshop at the Cavendish Historical Society Museum. (see article 3).

July 13 (Monday): Select Board Meeting, 6:30 pm at the Town Office Building

July 16 (Thursday): The Cavendish Community Luncheon will be at the St. James Methodist Church in Proctorsville. Serving begins at 11:30 A.M. The menu will be oven-baked chicken drumsticks and thighs, pasta salad, corn, tossed salad, warm rolls, your choice of blackberry or cherry cobbler with whipped cream for dessert, and lemonade, coffee or tea to drink. The cost is $3 for seniors and $4.50 for those under the age of 60.

8. CCCA Newsletter
The Summer 2009 edition of the Cavendish Community and Conservation Association is now available on-line at

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