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Mills' Herald moving to Perham, not ending local paper though

PERHAM - The New York Mills Herald is making a move, and it's a move that has people talking.

Word's been out in the community for a few weeks now that the Herald will move operations from its current office in New York Mills to Perham. It's been interesting speaking to you -- the readers -- and listening to initial reactions from people about the move. Some people aren't happy and there seems to be varying degrees of perception that this is a move toward the Herald and Perham Enterprise Bulletin combining into one newspaper, or worse, the Herald being consumed by the EB.

This theory or perception is understandable to some degree. After all, the two newspapers already share a Web site and produce a combined sports section under East Otter Tail Illustrated.

The difference though, is those two moves were made here at the local level with the idea we could improve both of those products by combining resources. It's important to point out combining the sports section did not come from parent company, Forum Communications.

A couple years ago myself and Perham EB sports editor John George felt by producing one sports section for both papers we could offer more complete sports coverage and satisfy readers' interests beyond that of the individual towns.

The basic idea from Forum Communications' standpoint to consolidate staff at both papers is a business decision and to streamline production for both the Herald and the EB. The move does not mean the printed edition of the Herald will cease. The Herald in print will continue. At this time, nobody is shutting down the paper, just moving the Herald staff to Perham.

There are still some questions regarding when the move will take place and we'll try to keep our readers informed best as possible. Upper management made the decision to consolidate staff, utilize available resources between the two offices and put production under one roof. The important thing to remember is there will still be a New York Mills Herald, separate from the Perham Enterprise Bulletin.

The logistics still have to be worked out before the move is complete Oct. 1.

From a business standpoint this move makes sense to management. It's an economics numbers game. This situation and decision is tough to take at first, but not unique to New York Mills or the Herald. Many newspapers in Minnesota have made similar decisions.

Unfortunately from a community's perspective, NY Mills is losing another storefront, and in these slow economic times that's not good. The Herald has been part of the community for over 90 years. The Herald and its staff have had a presence here for nine decades, from the Parta's family-owned newspaper to the Herald most recently under Forum Communications.

The Herald -- "A Rare Medium, Well Done" -- has a long-standing tradition of excellence in the community. Business talk is business talk, but what matters here to the community is the Herald is moving its operations to Perham, and many people don't like that. What also matters here, and after all is said and done is the most important point, we're still going to publish the Herald.

Although our staff has been reduced and consolidated for business reasons over the years we'll still have faces in the community. I will remain as editor of the Herald to cover news and sports; Becky Becker will still sell ads. Mary Haakana will remain to handle business affairs for the Herald but move from the Mills office to a similar position in Perham.

Although the print shop is no longer part of the Herald -- Forum Communications sold the printing operation and building to Jake Norton a year ago in June -- Norton Printing will continue to serve the printing needs of the community from its current location.

As the Herald staff, we'll do our best with what we have. And by working with the staff in Perham under one roof, the plan is to actually utilize a few more personnel resources than what we've had here in Mills the last couple years.

This isn't spin. And we're not sugarcoating anything. Things will be different on how we go about putting the paper together, and the community presence will be even less, by simply losing much of the walk-up interaction in the Mills office.

But the commitment locally will continue and quality newspaper will be produced each week. Many small towns throughout Minnesota and the region, which once had their own newspapers, have lost that over the years. It's a sign of the times, not only in the newspaper business, but in many other types of businesses. We'll make it work, and do our best to improve on a product that some feel has slipped when it comes to local coverage over the last few years.

As editor of the Herald, I have to look at this as an opportunity to draw from other staff resources to improve our product, albeit more remotely than what we are accustomed to in New York Mills.