The Chronicle these days, like many places, feels a bit desolate. The window on the front door is covered over, with a closed sign, and our usually lively office, with a steady stream of customers wanting to place ads, change their subscription address, tell us a story, is eerily silent with just a skeleton crew there.
Newspapers are considered an essential business, so we aren’t forced to shut down like restaurants and hair salons.
But, in keeping with best practices, our office is no longer open to the public, and we’re trying to work as remotely as we can, though a handful of people can’t do their jobs outside the office. Our doors are closed because we don’t want to infect you, or have you infect us.
The human and economic toll of this trying time is still beyond anyone’s grasp. Orleans County has never had a thriving economy, and some businesses won’t be able to weather this. So many live on the edge even in good times.
But we support Governor Phil Scott’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus, even though his directives have severely curtailed life as we’ve known it. We are, frankly, content to have this Governor in this time. His approach has been thoughtful and steady, data-based, as well as transparent. He hasn’t made it a political issue, and he holds press conferences every couple of days with Administration members. They answer questions until the questions are answered, or at least as best they can be.
Whether you agree with his general policies or not, Phil Scott has been calm, thoughtful, and apolitical in a tough time.
Meanwhile, the Northeast Kingdom is ramping up efforts to help people in whatever ways they need help. Our faith in neighborliness remains unchallenged. At the moment, there seems to be more people who want to help than people asking for it. From many acts of small kindness, to organized efforts, the Northeast Kingdom is what it always has been — a place that pulls together, rallies in a crisis, and takes care of its neighbors.
As one woman said last week: “We’re thrivers.”
The Chronicle staff is still trying mightily to bring you the news, despite the fact that we’ve lost our income, too. Newspapers rely on advertising for money, and quite understandably closed businesses are not advertising.
Newspapers all over the state, struggling before this, are laying off reporters, limiting production, going to electronic editions only, or plain closing.
We hope to weather this. The Chronicle has been here for 47 years, locally owned, now employee owned. We all live here, care about this place deeply and are working many unpaid hours to keep on doing our jobs.
We’re not special. So many challenged businesses have no, or limited, income right now. Our only claim to your generosity is that we’re trying hard to continue as a community newspaper, and we believe community papers are vital to an informed citizenry, as well as a sense of community itself.
We would be diminished without local papers that cover achievements and challenges, local government, the soccer championship, fires and floods, school boards, the criminal justice system — all of the big and little issues that affect daily life, or that people want to celebrate, take a second look at, or just find themselves interested in.
For the time being, we’ve gone to printing one section rather than two. Our deadlines remain the same, and the same regular features are in the paper, though we have to say our calendar of events is much diminished. You’ll find Paul Lefebvre’s Perimeter column generally on page eight or nine, and obituaries at the back of the paper near the calendar, such as it is.
We’re open to donations to sustain us through these days so we can continue to meet payroll and bring you the news and stories you’ve relied on for nearly half a century. And we sincerely hope you consider ways to help every community business you’ve enjoyed or come to rely on.
Order takeout if you can afford it. Buy groceries curbside if you are leery of going into a store. Check to see if your favorite local stores and farms have websites you can order from.
We must do our best to sustain small local businesses that are largely the foundation of our economy, plus a source of pride and pleasure.
To employ a cliché (sorry), this promises to be a marathon rather than a sprint. We want as much of what used to be — tattered, perhaps, but there — when it ends.
Be well, be careful, take care of yourself, your family, your neighbors, and support your local businesses. We’re in this together.
And by the way, we miss you — our customers, our advertisers, the people who cut our hair and serve us food, friends and family members we can’t visit, so many others…. — T.S.