Publisher’s Perspective

Chad Koenen

For the past three weeks you have likely noticed a change in the hours we are open at the Frazee-Vergas Forum and Citizen’s Advocate in Henning. In case you haven’t noticed we aren’t here on Tuesday’s as much as we have been in the past and that is a decision we have been hoping to avoid for much of the past several months. 

I wanted to take a little bit of space in this week’s newspaper to explain what is going on and what it means for our subscribers and customers. 

In the most basic of explanations, we need to close the Henning and Frazee/Vergas newspapers for all, or part of Tuesday, so we can deliver newspapers to post offices across the region. Over the past year especially, we have received countless phone calls from subscribers as little as 10 miles away from where the Frazee/Vergas Forum, New York Mills Dispatch and Citizen’s Advocate in Henning have been mailed, who stated it has taken over a week to get their newspaper delivered to their home. For us, that kind of delay in mailing is not acceptable. 

Each Tuesday, we mail the Citizen’s Advocate at the Henning post office, the New York Mills Dispatch at the NY Mills post office and the Frazee/Vergas Forum at the Frazee post office. From there the newspapers are sent to Fargo to a distribution center and then hopefully to your mailbox, unless of course you live east of Highway 29 then your newspapers are sent to another distribution center in the Twin Cities.

For example, the NY Mills Dispatch newspapers that go to Wadena, are sent from the NY Mills post office to a distribution center in Fargo, then to a distribution center in the Twin Cities and eventually back to Wadena. The distance between NY Mills and Wadena is just 10 miles, yet these newspapers have traveled several hundreds miles before they ever reach their intended destination. 

We have spent several hours nearly every week on the phone with subscribers, local post offices, regional distribution centers and representatives from the United States Postal Service to try and figure out how we can speed up delivery of our newspapers. The delay in newspaper delivery isn’t unique to us and is happening at newspapers across the country.

  While our local postal carriers and postmasters are amazing to work with, and I cannot say enough about the hard work our local representatives do to try and correct issues as they come about, their hands are basically tied when letters, newspapers and packages leave their post office. 

Over the past year especially, I have reached out to several of our local postmasters who are more than willing to find a solution to speed up our delivery, but ultimately, there is not a lot they are able to do to speed up the delivery of a mailing. Their hands are tied due to the bureaucracy of the United States Postal Service that seems to favor delivering packages over conventional newspapers. 

Even though making direct drops at post offices is something we have discussed for quite some time, every time we get ready to make the change the delivery of our newspapers locally improves for a short period of time, before going back to a week delay as it had in the past. This pattern of sporadic delivery and improvements is something we no longer can tolerate and we decided to finally make a change to directly drop newspapers at several of our area post offices. 

So what does this all mean in a nutshell? 

Basically, subscribers in Ottertail, Sebeka, Menahga, Wadena and Deer Creek should get their newspapers the following day after we publish the newspaper, or at the very least, within two days. That’s a vast improvement over a few days to a week as it has been over the past 6-9 months. We sincerely hope the improved delivery will provide you with more relevant news and advertising content in a more timely manner. After all, it does a person no good to find out about a community event long after it has taken place. 

On the negative side, being forced to deliver newspapers to all of these post offices to ensure timely delivery does take quite a bit of time each week since we will be driving over 175 miles to the various post offices. 

Our office in Henning will now be open for a portion of Tuesday, but will need to close it for a period of time in order to deliver newspapers at several post offices in the area. Our office in Frazee will now be closed on Tuesdays in order to make the trek from one post office to the next. 

We hope you understand and are patient with us during this time of transition. 

Once again I cannot compliment our local postmasters enough as they have been amazing to work with over the past few weeks. They are dedicated employees and we are lucky to have them in our communities. 

We thank all of our subscribers for being dedicated readers through the years and look forward to continuing to serve our communities in the future as well.