Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Rural Vermont weekly's essay contest for its sale finally pays off with a buyer

Hardwick Gazette publisher Ross Connelly
(Associated Press photo by Toby Talbot)
A rural Vermont weekly that unsuccessfully sought a new owner through an essay contest has been sold. Last week The Hardwick Gazette got its 11th owner since it was founded in 1889. The buyer, Ray Small of Stamford, Conn., was one of the essayists, who weren't numerous enough to make the contest work.

Publisher Ross Connelly announced the contest in June, offering the newspaper to the essayist who best explained "why they wanted to run a community newspaper," Fletcher writes for Forbes magazine. Connelley hoped for 700 entrants at $175 each, but that fell short even after he extended the deadline. "He turned to Kickstarter to raise money to save the paper, but that campaign did not succeed either."

However, "Close to a dozen people wrote him after the contest, however, and asked about buying the newspaper," Connelly wrote in his final edition, speaking of himself in the third person.

Small and his wife bring a wealth of experience, Connelly wrote: "They both have business degrees and extensive work with various corporations in both the United States and Europe. His specialty is business reporting and management and hers is business development. She was also a professional flautist."

Connelly said he "looked forward to stepping aside after almost 31 years. He said the newspaper needs more energy than he has now, but looks back with a sense of pride and accomplishment." Connelly, 71, and his wife bought the paper in 1986. She died in 2011.

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