Lately here at the Star Eagle, we’ve gotten various inquiries, comments, and some complaints about the later arrival of papers. Many have grown accustomed to a certain time frame, a schedule you’ve had for years, which has been upset as papers delivered to houses and P.O. Boxes have been arriving on Thursday instead of Wednesday. I know it can be frustrating when the things we come to expect suddenly change, and we extend our apologies to the community and ask for patience and consideration as we continue to work through an adjustment period.
There’s a surprising amount of work and people involved in putting together this publication every week; I’ve been around newspapers my whole life, and I’m still learning. One obvious (I say this because it’s printed at the top of every page) but often overlooked/forgotten thing about the Star Eagle: Thursday is the official date of publication. Since the papers are already out on Thursday, it’s essentially a Monday for us as we prepare for the next issue.
Everything that will be in the current week’s paper – articles, columns, ads, etc. – has a Tuesday deadline; the pages are edited/proofed on Monday and Tuesday and electronically transferred to the printer Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday morning, I leave at 8 a.m. for House of Print in Madelia where I pick up the papers, separated into bundles of various sizes with several bundles sorted into large, opaque plastic-like Post Office bags (these can weigh up to 70 lbs.) before driving back to New Richland.
If there are no delays, I get to town around 10:30; my first stop is the New Richland post office, where I drop off all but 3-5 post office bags in two bins – one for New Richland P.O. boxes/addresses, the other for out of town (or state) addresses. Then I go to the Star Eagle, print out postal statements and gather everything I need before going back to the post office for some stamps and signatures. By the time I’m done, it’s usually between 11-11:30, and I still have about half of the workday left.
Counter sales, a.k.a. papers we sell at area businesses, take up the remainder of what we refer to as the “paper run.” Since Nancy Jane’s Bakery is conveniently located two buildings down, I go there first. I do the same thing at every stop: pick up remaining papers from last week, subtract the number from the total number of papers they received, and multiply that number with the store’s price per paper to determine the amount to be collected. The majority of businesses get a receipt with these numbers and the amount paid, which are also written on the counter sales sheet for our records. Before leaving, I replace the old papers with this week’s, which are separated into bundles for each.
This process of exchanging papers and collecting payments usually takes 5-10 minutes, depending on how busy the store is at the time. After the bakery, I drive to the following locations (in order): New Richland Drug, Wagner Foods, One Stop, Ellendale Post Office, Lerberg’s, Gopher Stop North, Geneva Foods, Gopher Stop South in Clarks Grove, Hartland Post office, Gopher Stop (Nielsen’s Conoco); and finally Waseca Kwik Trip.
We’ve been using the same routine for years, with many adjustments along the way to try and accompany everyone’s needs and/or requests.
A big part of the paper run is knowing the schedules of businesses, as many have different closing/lunch hours. For example, the Ellendale Post Office closes for lunch from 11:30-1 p.m., which used to be an issue, but since new employees started they’ve made sure at least one person is in the building during that time so I can drop off their papers when I’m going through town (something I appreciate incredibly much!). Gas stations can be very busy around noon, so I try to get to them earlier to avoid the rush, but this isn’t always possible.
By the time I get back to New Richland and all the papers have been delivered, it’s around 2 p.m. and I’ve been driving for roughly six hours. I hope you can understand my frustration, then, when complaints are received about papers basically not arriving early enough – and remember, folks, we’re under no obligation to distribute the papers a day early, and could have chosen to make our jobs easier years ago and started waiting until Thursdays to deliver them. But we appreciate all of our subscribers, advertisers, and those who contribute to the Star Eagle in any way, so we continue to provide this service.
The biggest adjustment we’ve made in regards to the paper run – we’re still trying to work out the kinks, but there seem to be new ones all the time – was our change of printers. About a year ago, we had to choose a new printing company, as the one we worked with for years went out of business.
After many trials and errors, we’ve finally got a routine that is the most efficient. Unfortunately, due to the Hartland Post Office’s closing time of noon, some papers that get mailed out/put into P.O. boxes arrive the next morning. However, we’ve been able to deliver new papers to all the local businesses and post offices on Wednesday morning/early afternoon, and we’re going to keep the system that runs smoothest as long as we can, even if that requires a little sacrifice. After all, I’d love to take the day off, like the other employees (our office is closed on Wednesdays) do; however, I need the money, and I feel it would upset too many people to put the process off until Thursday.
It’s hard to adjust to change, but change is also necessary in some way at some point, and a little flexibility, patience, and understanding are key in dealing with it.