As of next week, the Colchester Sun will have a new home.
On December 14, the Sun will move from 42 Severance Green #108 to 69 Main St. in Milton, the home of our sister paper, the Milton Independent.
Since I took over the helm of the Sun and Essex Reporter in March 2016, the Indy has maintained a small office space there. But it soon became apparent that staffing two offices between six people wasn’t working.
And once a longtime ad rep left for a new position, our publishers at the St. Albans Messenger decided to house all reps in-house. A consolidated operation there has resulted in better collaboration.
Despite those benefits, this left us with too much space for too-high rent. With an existing office in Milton, it was the natural option to consider.
Some folks we’ve told have arched a skeptical brow upon hearing we’re closing a large office and moving to a smaller one. Whispers of downsizing and financial ruin haunt all newspapers these days, but I want to dispel that notion. It’s simply not part of this narrative.
Sure, the decision was financially motivated. We will be saving some money on rent, insurance and internet/phone services. But a lot of it came down to logistics.
We acknowledge concerns readers might have about how this could impact our coverage. But my team of reporters are motivated and dedicated. They’re even exploring how to work remotely – say, at Green Mountain Power’s Inspire Space that offers high-speed Wi-Fi. The $10 daily pass could be perfect for those awkward times between interviews when it doesn’t make sense to drive back to Milton, turn around and drive back.
Or maybe they’ll plop down at a local diner, order a cup of coffee and file a story from there. That would afford a dual benefit: saving time and immersing themselves in the community they cover.
It’s important to note our phone number will change once the move is complete. From December 14 forward, you can reach us at 893-2028 instead of 878-5282. We’ll print reminders in the paper and on our social media channels in the weeks following.
Also, a disclosure: The Milton space is managed by the Turner family, including Milton’s town manager, Don Turner Jr., whose parents run a construction business next door.
I wouldn’t blame readers if they think the arrangement could present a conflict of interest: A local paper cutting a check to the town manager – who happens to be the Vermont State House minority leader? How could we cover him fairly?
The thing is, Turner has been the Indy’s landlord since 2011, charging us a modest monthly fee to rent what used to be a conference room. We share a kitchen and bathroom with Turner’s mom, Nancy.
But this move won’t change the coverage of state or town government, just as it hasn’t for seven years, as Turner has worn hats of fire chief, rescue chief and developer.
Turner himself will tell you I don’t shy away from pressing him even though I count him among my personal friends. “Jeez, you’re tough,” he’ll often say, which fills any journalist with pride.
I feel the same excitement about this move. It will be a change, but I don’t expect Colchester readers to notice much.
We invite you come say hi.