In March of 2020, as the pandemic hit with full force, The Suffield Observer was faced with a dilemma. With our office shutdown due to the quarantine, how were we going to continue? While we recognized that continuing our publication was not a life and death issue, we earnestly believed that it would be a particularly bad time for the paper to “go dark,” leaving our community without the local coverage, articles, pictures etc. that people have come to expect. Similarly, local businesses which benefit from their advertisements in the Observer could especially benefit from communicating that they were open for (and needing) business. As you may recall, until it was safe to return to our offices a “handful” of volunteers diligently worked to publish the full newspaper online.
However, this article is not a trip down memory lane (since most of those memories are unpleasant) but is to recognize a special member of the “handful” responsible for the publication of pandemic online editions, Will Hermann. The simple reality is that only because of Will did we have the option of continuing to publish online. While the accomplishments of an organization generally are the result of the collective efforts of many individuals, it was solely because of Will that there is an online edition of the Observer. Will had come to the Observer with his idea of publishing online. He alone convinced us to tread into this new-to-us arena. He alone was responsible for overseeing the technical additions and subsequent improvements that brought us from a simple online pdf version of the printed edition to an actual online edition complete with easy-to-use links to articles separated by topics (e.g., Government/Town, Opinion, Columns, People/Business, etc.), an online edition that allowed readers to access five years of archived editions, an online edition that allows college students to continue to read their hometown paper while at school. Will alone was responsible for making it possible for online advertisers to link their website or Facebook page to the online editions so that readers can access more and updated information.
This summer Will decided to step away from his duties for the online edition, although he remains on our Board and hopefully will contribute in other ways. Thankfully, stepping up to assume those duties, as she has done so well with so many roles for the Observer, is the über talented Kathy Werth. Kathy was shown the ropes by…Will. Good luck, Kathy, and thank you, Will.