Ray and Kim Small take the helm of the Hardwick Gazette

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HARDWICK — This week, the Hardwick Gazette sees new ownership under Ray and Kim Small, a husband and wife team. They are the eleventh ownership team the paper has seen since it was founded in 1889.

"I believe in the power of the press to hold the powerful accountable," Ray Small said. "I really appreciate the power that a local paper has to build community. The type of info the Gazette covers is hard to get anywhere else. It's very local."

Ray and Kim succeed Ross Connelly, who ran the paper with his wife, Susan Jarzyna, until she died in 2011. Conelly served as editor and co-publisher, while Jarzyna served as co-publisher and advertising manager. They bought the paper in 1986 from Karen and Eric Pope.

In a provided article published in Ross Connelly's last Hardwick Gazette, he describes the Smalls' background as: "his specialty is business reporting and management and hers is business development," which Ray elaborated on. "One of my first jobs was very much on the journalist work cycle," Ray Small said. "We had assignments, we had deadlines. The only difference is that we sold our work to corporations. I moved on to other jobs, but I enjoyed that one the most."

Despite having backgrounds in business, the Smalls don't see the Gazette just as a way to make a profit.

"It's not about the money," Ray said. "It's avocation. One needs to believe in what one does."

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As per the future of the paper, the Smalls don't plan on making any major changes just yet. According to Ray, the paper plans to "spend an initial period listening," which he estimated between two to three months in order to gauge what needs to change, if anything.

The sale of the Gazette, which closed yesterday, came after Connelly attempted to give the paper away via an essay contest. The contest, which included a $175 entry fee, was extended twice and was supplemented by a Kickstarter campaign, but never reached the amount of entries to make it "financially viable." After the second extension, Connelly refunded the entry fee money and began negotiating with essay contest entrants interested in buying the paper off of him.

"The endeavor generated worldwide interest but too few people submitted essays by the fall end date," Connelly wrote in his last Gazette. "Close to a dozen people wrote him after the contest, however, and asked about buying the newspaper."

Connelly published 1,550 issues of the weekly paper during his tenure, spanning three decades, and had much to reflect on.

"Overseeing the publishing of the Gazette each week has been a responsibility and a privilege," he said in his farewell editorial.

"Any journalist is privileged to meet people, to be trusted to interview people, to have people share their stories, to write stories about and for readers. The Gazette is a patchwork quilt that changes with each new week as it reflects back the 'who, what, when, where and why' of the people and landscapes it covers. There are meetings, there are events, and there are always people."


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