The Hampton Gazette Celebrates its 40th Anniversary
Forty years ago, a group of neighbors gathered at the home of Charlie Halbach to discuss publishing a town newspaper to report on — and encourage discussion of — issues facing the town, to apprise residents of the happenings and history of Hampton, and to share our neighbors’ news.
The first edition of The Hampton Gazette was published in April of 1978. It contained six pages and reported on farming, bears, winter, the Hampton Co-op, and the original “Hampton Chronicle”, circa 1939. The Selectmen, the Town Clerk, the Fire Department and the Ambulance Corps, the schools, the girl scouts and the boy scouts, the 4-H Club, and the Hampton Community Players contributed information. The production process was a cut and paste operation, first as a volunteer effort and later as a task Mary Kennon performed for over 15 years. Minnie Halbach delivered the monthly edition to every household, a responsibility she fulfilled for 30 years. The newspaper grew. By 1980, twelve pages per issue was the norm, with approximately 40% of the newspaper advertisements.
In 2001, technology was employed to put the paper together – a computerized cut and paste process that Mary Oliver introduced to us. The cost of photographs was no longer an issue, and in 2007 we enlisted Pete Vertefeuille as a staff photographer to cover events, accompany articles with pictures from his collection, and produce photographic essays. Our news coverage grew, with the paper reaching 16 – 20 pages. Rarely are there only twelve pages of news now, and once in a while we have 24. It’s usually people’s opinions that lessen or increase the size of the paper – one thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to make room for everyone’s voice.
In 2010, Bob Petix created a website for an online version of the monthly edition. The website also expanded to include archives and photographs and is visited by many people, near and far, every month. With Minnie’s retirement, we switched to a system of mailing to subscribers through Gulemo Printers, Inc., our publisher for the last 25 years, and an online notification system. Our newspaper is delivered to 330 households with another 30 residents notified of publication every month. The website and the mailing reduced costs considerably. One of the major changes the Gazette has experienced is in advertising, which represents less than one-sixth of our newspaper now. There are far fewer businesses in town than there were in the beginning.
The Gazette continues to evolve: new neighbors with new interests, new writers with new perspectives; new board members with new ideas. What hasn’t changed is our commitment to the community and its presence on our pages — from the youth we congratulate for the laurels they earn, to those we salute in their passing. Every issue reveals the volunteer efforts of those who serve us, as public officials, emergency respondents, pillars of our churches, leaders of our organizations, directors of our preserves, those who keep us apprised of the news, and those who pen opinions on it. Every issue reflects what’s important to us: from politics to chickens, the Gazette remains, as one subscriber described, “a patchwork quilt of life in a small town in New England”.
The Hampton Gazette
Each issue this anniversary year will include a retrospect of the Gazette over the last forty. We look forward to celebrating our shared history with you.
Our website is experiencing technical difficulties of late – our apologies.