Sunapee Selectmen Talk Communication

Where do Sunapee residents get town news and information and where would they like to get it? And how does the annual town report meet the information needs of the town and at what cost? Sunapee selectmen July 13 continued to look at how best to communicate with residents about local government activities, such as the upcoming summer town meeting on August 4.

The recent loss of a second area newspaper in one year’s time continues to close off traditional avenues of communication that are convenient and readily accessible to local government officials.

The town uses primarily the InterTown Record, a weekly, for public hearing ads. And it used until recently, as a back-up, the Eagle Times, because it’s published six days a week, according to Sunapee Town Manager Donna Nashawaty.

However, that option abruptly ended July 10, when the Claremont-based newspaper folded.

Now, it’s about the numbers and readership. Nashawaty is gathering subscription information so she can identify the daily newspaper–Valley News, Concord Monitor or Union Leader–that reaches the greatest number of Sunapee residents. However, ads can get “buried” in larger newspapers and are hard to find when people do not know where to look for them week to week, one selectman said at the recent selectmen meeting. The town manager said she’d look, as well, at the town’s “news and announcements” subscriptions.

And to get feed-back to various “communication” questions, the selectmen are considering a survey, “perhaps” via the recreation department newsletter or a web-based service, such as Survey Monkey. Another option is a hybrid, on-line and print survey, or a phone survey, said Nashawaty in a follow-up interview today with SunapeeNews.com.

The selectmen also want to know if residents want to continue to receive the annual town report by mail or do they want to pick up a copy at the town hall, transfer station or library. The expense of printing and mailing the report joined the selectmen’s discussion, as it did June 29. If reports are picked-up by the public vs. mailed, the town could save $13,000 in mailing and printing costs and cut the number of copies from 2600 to 1000 or less, Nashawaty said today. Her estimates are based on New London’s experience; the town stopped mailing town reports last year, she said.

Available on-line are Sunapee annual reports for 2007 and 2008. With high speed Internet, one can downloaded both reports, section by section, within four minutes. Connection speed is a factor. The town website warns: “Please be patient PDF documents open slowly.” And unlike the printed report, the 2007 and 2008 editions on-line omit the customary front and back cover and inside-cover photos and dedications and the entire Sunapee school district report including budgets and warrant articles. Nor could SunapeeNews.com locate the school information on the Sunapee school district/SAU85 website.

If you’d like to respond to this article, please leave a comment.

To send a message to town hall, email: frontdesk@town.sunapee.nh.us

One Response

  1. I strongly support having town reports available at the town office for pickup. With the rising costs of mailing and printing, this could save taxpayers a substantial amount of money. I often wonder how many are read vs. how many are discarded at the transfer station. I suggest those who are on the absentee ballot list continue to receive a mailed copy, or a letter of inquiry as to their interest in receiving the town report by mail. A shut-in deserves to be informed as much as anyone else, and their opinions on town issues should be heard. We also need a communication link, as regarded in the above article, not only to address our town and county news, but to inform as to when these town reports are made available for pickup. The school website is a great place for keeping abreast of both elementary and high school events and activities, and is updated often throughout the school year. This is a great tool for those who have computers, but another avenue needs to be in place for those who rely on a local newspaper. Maybe if the Intertown Record is approached, they will expand their coverage even more to suit our needs, and perhaps publish more than one paper a week if necessary.

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