By Buffy Calvert
“Hey! The Gazette is 20!” I told a friend. He shook his head. “Seems like more than that. Hasn’t it always been here?”
In 1998 a visioning process spearheaded by Marty Donnelly, where Andes residents savored what they liked about the town and deplored its shortcomings, some people felt they were paddling the whole community canoe alone and others weren’t pulling their weight. The meetings gave birth to the Andes Community Empowerment Initiative, with a little money to spend. How could we let everyone know what others were doing? A newspaper!
A few intrepid souls met at Bill and Eddie Piervincenzi’s house, chose the name Andes Gazette and ventured to publish a newssheet with Bill as Editor-in-Chief, Wilma Mazo and me as reporters, Doris and Frank Hartung prepared to put our stuff on their computer, Alan Mazo to seek out advertisers and collect their fees, and Eddie to handle subscribers and the books. Susan Litton offered to have her firm in New York print it.
We chose a view of the reservoir (taken from the Hartung’s house) for the backdrop of the nameplate. The first issue, June 1999, a mere 4 pages, came out in color! We wrote: “We believe our message will be a positive one, stressing all the things that are going on in Andes now…We want all Andes residents to be aware of the community service effort of their neighbors…”
By August we had grown to 8 pages with a calendar insert courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce and prepared by George Calvert, listing all the local businesses on the back. Color lasted until November when we ran out of grant money and began to actively seek ads and subscribers (at $10 per year). We also printed the first satire by the ever-mysterious Harley Quinn.
At first there were no by-lines. Bill wrote an editorial, “View from Palmer Hill,” where he held forth on whatever was on his mind. Later, after the editorial board consolidated, “Views” appeared from various locales and viewpoints and by-lines appeared. As promised, the “We Applaud” column, profiling community activists, has always been prominent (well over 100, so far). Other columns burst on the scene: “The Way We Were,” items culled from the Andes Recorders of 100 years ago by Judy Garrison with sage comments by Jim Andrews; “Garden Phyllisophy” by Phyllis Galowitz, (now “Just Phyllisophy,” supplanted by Mel Bellar’s “Garden Therapy”): sparkling book reviews by Rima Walker and Jane Tompkins; and “Mountaineer Tracks,” started by ACS Superintendent John Burkhart, and continued by his successors: John Bernhardt and Robert Chakar. The Millenium Issue (January 2000) proudly featured a red insert with Jack McShane shining a light on local flora and fauna, which, we all know, led to our most popular guru’s “Field Notes.”
The other promise—or premise—that we would lift up rather than tear down the community was challenged by the contentious issue of Wind Turbines. My favorite front page of all time highlighted GALOWITZ v GALOWITZ across the top with Phyllis’ enthusiastic pro on the left-hand column and Alan’s strongly worded con on the right.
Layout has presented a challenge to each of the brave souls who have tackled it. And each has done it with skill and grace. Doris Hartung, Bonnie Canavan, Linda Jones, Alan Galowitz, Barbara Mellon and Kari Haugeto, I salute you!
As you can see from the pictures, the editors have changed over the years. I feel privileged to have been here from the start. It is always a joy and a challenge. I remember, early on, I confessed that I was too shy to go up to JoAnn Perry, the Pool Director. The staff gave me a straw boater with a PRESS card stuck in the band. Recently, when I boldly stepped into taped-off space to talk to the boss at the bridge rebuilding by the school, he started to shoo me away. “I’m from the Andes Gazette!” I cried. “What?” he growled, “You only got 100 kids in your school and have your own newspaper?” and gave me my interview.
Every month we set a date after the deadline for submissions, meet at the library at 10 am, grab our personal pens (mine is red) and tear into the pile of articles for the upcoming issue. We do a concentrated read-through of each item, marking possible edits for clarity, spelling, word choice, punctuation, and length. We have a style sheet, of course, and also strong opinions ourselves. We speak up, sometimes disagree, especially about commas, but value each other’s ideas and slant on things. It’s stimulating. When everyone has read everything, we break for lunch downtown. In the afternoon we put all the now colorfully inked-up pieces on the computer, carefully examine each again for needed corrections, choose the front page and the photos and send it off to Kari for layout. A big job! She sends it back for final edit by email. We each go over every line again and send in any edits. She makes the changes. It’s ready for the Delhi College Print Shop. A couple of hours of folding, sealing, stamping and sorting and we send it off to your mailbox or wherever you pick it up! ~