by Brent Frankenhoff
Executive Director, Jensen Community Center
With a newly revised address list, Community Spirit Editor and Publisher Bonni Miller and I would like to welcome a number of new readers to our pages and take a moment to explain to all of you why you’re getting a copy of this paper in your mailbox each month.
If you take the time to read the fine print in our “Community Spirit Policies” box on Page 7, you’ll learn that “The Community Spirit is mailed at no charge to property owners and residents within the Tomorrow River School District, residents outside of the school district that have students attending the TR Schools will also receive issues at no charge.”
That’s the major part of our readership, but you can also subscribe to the paper and we thank our many new and long-term subscribers who enjoy the “good news newspaper” each and every month. And, of course, there’s our newsstand distribution.
So, how did this monthly paper come to be?
In April 2003, Jensen Community Center Managing Director Randy Clausen began a newsletter to promote the activities of the Jensen Center. Edited by Maggie Woodside, that four-page, bimonthly 8.5 x 11-inch publication quickly grew, quadrupling in size to 16 pages by its third issue and changing to a full-size monthly newspaper of its current dimensions by its fourth issue in October 2003. A significant part of that growth, and the Spirit’s distribution to readers in the school district, was incorporating the school’s Tomorrow’s News Today newsletter and a new monthly newsletter from the Amherst District Fire Department into its pages. The school news still fills a half-dozen or more pages each month and the large amount of positive news, achievements, columns, and more round out a fun paper that all can enjoy.
When he announced his retirement in January 2016, Clausen reflected on the Spirit’s beginnings and its policy of being the “good news newspaper.” “There are no train wrecks, car crashes, or crime reports,” he said. “We concentrate on good news and, fortunately, the Amherst area has always had an abundance of good news to report. People can find, and at times, seek, the bad news that we see every day in most publications and broadcasts, but I really feel strongly that people need to be refreshed with positive events, accomplishments, and sharing the good things in life that keep us on track with positive goals. Changing our negative focus to something of true value just makes sense.”
Clausen was joined in his publishing efforts by writer and editor Steve Ellingboe who, reflecting on his time with the Spirit, said, “I think the most gratifying thing for me was seeing how well the paper was received by people in the community. They really embraced the concept of a ‘good-news newspaper,’ which is something Randy had envisioned from the start.
“I was also impressed with how quickly advertisers came on board and how supportive they were in the early days – and continue to be. Our advertisers have all been very loyal to the Spirit over the years.”
Among the items Clausen and Ellingboe are most proud of is the “Person of the Year” award that Ellingboe said was “another great idea that Randy had and one that brings a lot of pride to the Amherst community.” (This year’s nominations will open August 1.)
David Wright, past president of the Amherst Area Foundation, which oversees the operations of the Jensen Center, wrote in 2016, “All too often individuals who have special talents and make exceptional efforts go unnoticed and are not given enough recognition for what has been created and promoted.
“Through the years Randy has brought together many different aspects of the paper including, and maybe most notably, the exciting news that seems to flow endlessly out of our school system. Each and every month, we see positive reports on everything from theater and educational excellence to sports.
“Randy has also worked hard to bring in advertisers who come back to the publication year after year,” Wright added, “not just to support the paper but to generate business. Clearly the paper, with all of its positive news, has been a promoter of not only the community and its activities, but of the businesses.”
In the three years since Randy’s retirement, Bonni and I have strived to carry on his vision and are pleased with the feedback we receive from the community. If you have good news or accomplishments of any size to share, let us know. We’re here to serve the community and want to hear from as many of you as possible. You’ll find our contact information on Page 7. Enjoy the Community Spirit! List Table 6