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Nine months after Gustavus was incorporated as a second-class city, the Southeast town of 450 people has found itself with a luxury that metropolises a thousand times its size lack: two newspapers.
The first issue of The Fairweather Reporter, self-published by retired state employee Carolyn Edelman, showed up in kiosks all over Gustavus in early January. The February issue is about to go to print.
The Reporter joins Icy Passages, self-published by Chris Spute since December 1993. After a 10-month hiatus due to computer problems, a new issue of Passages came out in mid-January.
Both newspapers are monthly and have circulations of approximately 250. The first issue of The Reporter was eight pages, advertisement-free. The January issue of Passages was 24 pages, with ads.
Edelman hopes to sell ads if she gets a good response from the first few issues. She said she is not trying to compete with Passages.
"We get the Empire over here, and people generally look for national news on the Web or they've got Dish TV," Edelman said. "When you have a monthly paper, you can't try to write the real current stuff that people need. So what I'm going for has to do with city news and school news."
"She wants the information out timely, and I agree with that," Spute said.
Edelman has lived in Gustavus for the last 1 1/2 years. This is her first attempt at journalism. She takes pictures with a digital camera, a recent gift from her husband, and lays out the pages on Microsoft Publisher.
The Reporter is printed with recyled paper by Copy Express, on Seward Street in Juneau. She transmits the pages via e-mail. The papers are sent back to her through Air Excursions. She hopes to take the paper on-line soon.
Edelman got the idea to start the newspaper while serving on Gustavus' strategic planning commitee. At the time, Passages was on hiatus.
"The City Council was talking about maybe doing their own newsletter to let people know what was going on," Edelman said. "If you're not on a commitee and you don't go to the city council meetings, you don't know what's going on. That's what got me going."
Edelman began working on The Reporter in late December. The first issue is filled with contributions. Page two included an article by Gustavus Building Supply owner Tim Gibson about his acquisition of K&W Carting.
She's done most of the writing in the February installment herself. Issue 2 will include a feature on the recently reopened Homeshore Cafe.
Future issues will include more coverage of Glacier Bay National Park and a recurring feature called "Where in the World is...?" catching up on former residents with ties to the town. The January issue spotlighted Phil Perisch, a former computer worker for the state.
The Reporter is available throughout town, by calling Edelman at 697-2244, or by writing to P.O. Box 176, Gustavus, AK 99826. She hopes eventually to distribute the paper in Juneau. Subscriptions are $12 for six months (6 issues) or $20 for a year (12 issues).
Spute and her family moved to Gustavus in May 1993 from Minneapolis. At the time, Gustavus had no paper.
Her first issue came out in December 1993. Current issues run between 18 and 22 black-and-white pages, and she's hoping to take the paper on-line. Her subscription base includes customers in Rome, Australia and seasonal residents from Florida to Washington state.
"It's just grown," Spute said. "It's definitely gotten a lot of support from advertisers, subscribers, readers and reporters. People have taken their time to send me something, and that's greatly appreciated."
Spute works at a taxi service, the Alaska Glacier Bay travel agency and the Gustavus Post Office, and volunteers on a variety of boards in town. The paper's volunteer writers incude members of local commitees and the operator of the local landfill.
Icy Passages is available throughout Gustavus, or by calling Spute at 697-2206. Subscribtions are six months (six issues) for $12.75, or a year (12 issues) for $25.50. It's printed at Capital Copy, also on Seward Street in Juneau.