and a thank you to our staff and contributors
by Barbara Van Reed, Editor
This is the very last issue of the Patriot, which has been covering the local news in Webster, Dudley, and Oxford for nearly 40 years. Although I have been associated with the paper for just the last two years, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of you, readers and newsmakers, the people who live and work in these communities, and know how much the paper has meant to many of you. I and all the Patriot staff will miss you.
In this final “Letter from the Editor” I will talk about some of the people who have made the Patriot a newspaper that people wanted to read: our production staff, writers, columnists, drivers, and contributors, some of them operating behind the scenes.
First and foremost is our production manager Sally Patterson, who has faithfully constructed the pages of the Patriot for its entire existence. She has prepared more than 2,000 issues through both its good times and its trying times. In the two years that I've had the fortune to work with her, I can honestly say that I've never met a more genuinely engaged employee and greatly admire her strong, yet giving personality. She has the right to be sadder than anyone else that the Patriot will no longer be part of her life.
Our graphic designer Carol Kosth moved back to Massachusetts 15 years ago after having spent some years in California and made the Patriot her work home. Over those years she has created great ads for our advertisers, working tirelessly until she gets them just right. Our customers appreciate and praise her creativity, and so do we.
When current owner Chris Robert bought the Patriot in April 2011, we hired several freelance writers in order to more aggressively report on locals news, especially the goings-on at the town halls and the schools.
Our first reporters were Ginger Costen and Tom D’Agostino. Both continued to write for us the entire time. Tom faithfully reported on every Webster Board of Selectmen meeting, and came to relish it, he says. He found the meetings quite entertaining at times. Tom also contributed a monthly “Tales from Beyond” column, a product of his paranormal pursuits; he’s written a number of popular books on the subject of paranormal activity in New England.
Ginger became a regular columnist, writing on the topical issues of the day, always with wit and humor. She also shared her personal struggles with her weight, providing insight into “life in the fat lane,” as she called it. For Ginger, that story is not yet finished and she has promised to write a book about it.
Janet Stoica wrote for us for a time, covering selectmen and school committee meetings, until she left to take a job with the Telegram. Charles Kelleher Harris and Becky Harvey picked up the stories then, continuing the Patriot presence at selectmen, school committee, and other local meetings in Dudley and Oxford.
And of course, a familiar byline on the front page and inside pages has been Steev Riccardo. Then living in Maine, he came in two years ago on a visit to his parents in Webster. He reminisced covering sports for the Patriot when he was still at Bartlett. He also wrote a “Rock N Roll Road Stories” column based on his career in the rock music industry. We agreed that he would resurrect his rock column for the new Patriot. A few months later he moved back to Webster and came on full time as our features and sports reporter. He created a loyal following of student athletes, local coaches, and families who were delighted with his comprehensive sports coverage and obvious love for the students and the games. You can read some of their comments in the sports section. Steev will continue writing about sports, and you can read his future “ViewfromtheSWCL” sidelines online.
While she's busy managing the house accounts, handling the billing, and solving customer problems, Laura Gleim is the story teller here in the office, always ready with a pithy comment on most any subject. It became intense here sometimes with deadlines looming, so this was a wonderful thing.
On Tuesdays Bert Pierangeli came in to do subscriptions. At 81, she's our oldest employee, still sending out those subscription reminders and making mailing labels to keep busy.
For our advertisers, the face of the Patriot has been Tony Discepolo, who came to us after a lengthy career with the Yankee Clipper until it went out of business. He's the best, never stopping from morning until night, treating every “no” as a challenge to overcome. Tony will continue to be our face for the Yankee Shopper.
Many of you saw Alan when you were looking into his camera. A familiar figure in his vest with camera bag across his shoulder, Alan photographed every event in Webster, Dudley, and Oxford, major and minor, and could be counted on to be the man on the scene. We received hundreds of calls asking for Alan, and that was no surprise; his photographs are spectacular.
Our store and newsstand owners know Ray Beauregard very well, as he faithfully came by every Tuesday to pick up the previous week's Patriot, and then he'd be back later that night or Wednesday morning to bring them the new issue. On the rare occasion when Ray could not do the deliveries, Joe Grivalski would do it for him.
Speaking of Joe, he's also the voice on country radio and wrote our Indian Ranch columns the last two summers.
Truly behind the scenes, but really important, was Joey Patterson, who would come to the office very early every Wednesday morning to put the mailing labels on the paper and bring them to the Post Office. We know this was critical, because if you didn't have your Patriot on Wednesday, we'd be getting calls all day long.
Also behind the scenes was Steve Raymond, who takes care of our IT issues, but also archived an electronic copy of the Patriot every week, so we will have our history. And Christine Anderson, who tirelessly posted all the stories and columns and pictures on the Patriot website every week.
We were blessed these last two years with many wonderful columnists. Some had been with the paper for a long time; others were new.
George Bibeau has been writing for the Patriot for more than 20 years, and he has to be the most dedicated veterans' columnist in the state. His weekly coverage of veterans' affairs, tributes, and memorials is amazing and comes from the heart. We know that all the veterans will greatly miss his writings.
Peter Coyle has had a voice in sports commentary for many years, and expanded his Patriot column beyond football these last two years, writing with historical perspective about local sports events every week. We really regret that we won’t be able to publish his great columns any longer. Read Dave O'Connor's letter to the editor – he remembers those early days too.
Last year Frank S. P. Yacino started writing a bi-weekly column on the beauty and the brutality of life as a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer's Disease. The last two of his columns are included in this issue. We hope to work with Frank in the near future to compile and print all his columns in a booklet. In the meantime, they will continue to be available online at www.patriotnewspaper.com. Frank said he wanted to write the series even if it helped only one other person go through the experience, and I think he has done that—more than once.
Pastor Janice Ford of the Church of the Reconciliation in Webster faithfully brought a bi-weekly message of hope in an unforgiving world. She had a wonderful way of attacking real life problems with God's love. We also appreciated her special front page articles at Christmas and Easter time. Pastor Janice's columns, too, will remain online. You can meet Pastor Janice in person at the Fire on the Water festival at Indian Ranch on May 19.
We thank all our other columnists:
Attorney Henry Lane, who wrote our legal column The Law and You to provide a layman's perspective and interpretation for Massachusetts state and local municipal laws.
“Ask Madalyn” answered a timely question each week on topics of everyday living—be it food, gardening, health and beauty, pets, scams – informing us and amusing us. She has created a blogspot, where you can continue to read her columns.
Cathleen Liberty, Webster's Health Agent, wrote a monthly column dealing with public health issues.
Chief Wojnar wrote a public safety column each week. Michelle LaFleche wrote about all the happy and sad incidents that occur on her watch as the Webster Animal Control Officer. Chief Wojnar and Michelle did not write exclusively for the Patriot, so you will still be able to read their columns in other publications.
Other occasional contributors were Dudley Fire Chief Dean Kochanowski with his fire safety columns, Nancie Zecco's with a very popular “Made in the USA” column, and Linda Littleton with stories about Webster Lake sights.
Lastly, we appreciated Bartlett Middle School teacher Lara DeRose, who worked with her history students to give us a history lesson every week. We learned from them too!
Since we announced the closing of the Patriot we have received many wonderful comments from our readers, town hall newsmakers, and friends. Thank you all!