Dairyland Peach is making some improvements

Tom WestReaders will see some changes in this issue of the Dairyland Peach. As you turn the pages, you will find news about your friends and neighbors, meeting announcements and in the future an occasional opinion.

The Peach will still be the place where buyers and sellers meet in Stearns and Todd counties as well as portions of Benton, Douglas, Pope and Morrison. We aren’t cutting back on the free classifieds that have been an important part of the Peach since it started. We will continue to deliver the Peach to everyone in the area we cover, currently more than 27,000 copies. And we will continue to serve our advertisers’ needs by printing the Peach in three overlapping zones.

Ever since the McCoy brothers, Joe and Dennis, started the paper in 1967 (and were joined soon after by third brother Brian),  its purpose was to make sure that every household in the area received the advertising messages that local businesses wanted to deliver. The fact that the paper not only survived but prospered all these years suggests that the businesses found it worthwhile to advertise here.

The latest independent audit of the Peach by the Circulation Verification Council found that 76.4 percent of the people who receive the Peach read it on a regular basis. Our goal with these improvements is to attract even more readers.

We intend to run meeting announcements, so if you are having a meeting free to the public, you can either mail us or drop off the notice at our office in Sauk Centre. You can also e-mail us at print.saukcentre@ecm-inc.com. And you can enter your meeting notice on our Web site at http://www.dairylandpeach.com.

We are also accepting announcements of births, engagements, weddings and anniversaries. If you would like one of our forms, all you need to do is visit our Web site, stop by our Sauk Centre office or give us a call.

At the other end of life’s spectrum are death notices. Such announcements may not be so happy, but are often just as interesting, and no less important. We will be running those that are sent to us by area funeral homes.

Another feature that we hope you will enjoy are recipes. Val Klemish of rural Swanville has written a recipe column for years. Now she will be sharing her fondness for easy-to-make dishes in the Peach. Throughout the year, we also intend to run a number of special columns, asking area readers to contribute their favorite recipes to those columns as well.

The Peach has also hired a reporter, Emilie Thiessen, to write news about our readers. If you have an interesting story to tell, or know about someone else who does, please call Emilie at our Sauk Centre office at (320) 352-6569.

We will have some space for letters and opinion columns. Letters are limited to 200 words, and any individual letter writer is limited to one letter every five weeks.

In these difficult times, with the nation seemingly split deeper than it has been for a long time, we strongly encourage readers to write, but we also remind writers to stick to the issues. While letter writers can differ with one another, and you can say whatever you wish about public officials and the issues, the Peach won’t allow personal attacks directed at any of our letter writers.

I’ll be writing a column occasionally or at least until I get squeezed out by others who want to give it a try.

If you are wondering who I am, I’ve been helping out at newspapers around  Minnesota for 36 years. My hometown is Waseca, located between Owatonna and Mankato in southern Minnesota. I’m the son and grandson of veterinarians, so I saw the inside of more than a few barns when I was growing up.

My mother was a librarian, so I suspect that it is her genes and influence that led me to a love of newspapers and the printed word.

My mother is deceased, but my dad, age 96, lives in a nursing home in Colorado. It’s a long story, best told at another time, as to how he wound up there.

As for me, I started working for a daily newspaper in Waseca, moved on to the Mankato Free Press, then owned the paper in Janesville, Minn., for eight years in the 1980s, before moving back to Waseca to run a weekly newspaper. In 1998, I moved to Duluth to first edit and later manage a weekly newspaper, and then almost five years ago, I moved to Little Falls. In the changing world of newspapers, I oversee both the Little Falls paper as well as the Peach, but I still have time for a good story if you have one to share.

I’ve mentioned our Web site, http://www.dairylandpeach.com, several times.

The paper version of the Peach is delivered on the weekend, but now that we are adding news and a great weather forecast created by KSTP-TV weatherman Dave Dahl and his son Andy, we are in the process of upgrading our Web site, adding new features, and, as I mentioned, you can enter your own event in the event calendar on the Web site.

We hope you enjoy the improvements, find them useful and continue to look forward to receiving the Peach every week.

 Tom West is the general manager of the Peach. He can be reached at (320) 352-6569 or by e-mail at tom.west@mcrecord.com.

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