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Thank you, readers, for supporting us

updated: 12/21/2017 2:07 PM

What a year this has been!

Longtime readers of this newspaper know exactly what I'm talking about. Earlier this year, Paddock Publications, which purchased the Benton Evening News in late 2016 from longtime owner Gatehouse, instituted a series of changes aimed at maintaining the newspaper's long-term solvency.

The changes were dramatic. The once-daily newspaper was reduced to just one issue a week, the most recent of which you now hold in your hands. We made changes to our distribution, ending carrier delivery and instead distributing papers to our subscribers via the mail. Our longtime office on Church Street closed its doors.

We know these changes have not always been easy for you to adapt to. Believe me, they have been challenging for our staff as well.

Despite all of this, I am hopeful about the future of this newspaper, which boasts a legacy handed down to us by the Malkovich family and others through the years, and I am proud of the accomplishments our staff has managed in the face of constantly shifting circumstances.

Our ace reporter, Holly Kee, has continued to deliver fascinating stories that detail the lives and experiences of people living in Benton and Franklin County. She is an amazing writer, a very kind soul and, I'm proud to say, a good friend. Rick Hayes, whose career with the paper goes back well before mine began, has remained a stalwart contributor, covering local government meetings without missing a beat and digging into issues even further when we need it. He even does sports. I don't know what we'd do without him.

Brittany Gresham, our sales representative, remains one of the kindest and most professional people with whom I have ever worked. She has twins coming in the new year, and we wish her and her husband all the best with their new family. Amanda Jarzynski, who coordinates our sports coverage, has grown considerably in the past year. She has faced many challenges, and she has risen to meet them. This year, the paper even took on a new paginator, Bailee Grob, who is about to leave for a new future in New York City. We will miss her. She made the work as easy as possible.

All of this back-slapping isn't meant to just gloss over the problems. We know that some readers have been disappointed with us this year. You have let us know, and we haven't solved everything yet. We remain a work in progress, and we are trying to do the work with determination and humility.

Most of all, I am thankful for the readers and advertisers who have stuck by our side. I truly believe the paper you now hold in your hand better represents this community than the skinny daily papers you received before the changes, but our work is ongoing. We're not there quite yet, but we have made real progress.

Again, thank you for your loyalty, and our goal remains to pay you back in kind with as good a newspaper as we can. If there is anything we can do, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. You can find my email address at the bottom of page 3, or you can call me anytime at 438-3211.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all of you, dear readers, and best hopes for a prosperous new year. Hopefully, what a year 2018 will be, too.