Rutherford Weekly's new home is another step in serving the county and surrounding communities.
It also brings office services closer to where they were 17 years ago when Community First Media bought The Amazin' Shopper from Tommy Hicks.
"I think Tommy would approve," General Manager Mike Marlow said of the move to 157 West Main Street, Forest City just three blocks from where the shopper office was. The building is now home to Moe's Barbecue.
A free weekly is a powerful print and online presence. 14,000 print copies and 2,800 online readers make for advertising and community news impact.
A recent demonstration of RW's juice came when Dr. Walter Ziffer spoke at the Lake Lure Mountain Branch Library. The lion's share of Ziffer's pre-speech publicity had come from the Weekly; and the crowd that showed was standing room only.
Ziffer's wife, Gail Rosenthal, said two women were out in the parking lot directing traffic and helping people figure out where to park.
Mike Marlow also said, "We reach a lot of readers. We hear that a lot. We have a strong base of loyal advertisers and we sell a lot of classifieds. This new office is going to be highly visible and accessible for customers."
Among the Weekly's major advertisers is Moore's Auto Sales on Broadway in Forest City. Shawn Moore said, "Rutherford Weekly is our main advertising medium. It helps us sell cars. Otherwise we wouldn't advertise."
Jan Sailors has been the staff designer and web guru since Tommy Hicks bought the paper in 1992.
"We work hard to create a good looking product that will be easy on the reader's eyes and accessible," Sailors said of her 27 years on the job. Sailors is a graduate of Isothermal Community College, where she obtained her graphic design training.
"From the beginning I have said I would not produce an ad that I would not pay for myself. It makes no difference to me if it's a business card size ad or a full-page. Every ad is important," Sailors said.
The plate-spinning work of handling the front office has been handled by Roxana Smart for the past 13 years.
From classified ads in person or over the phone to handling billing and other administrative duties, Smart has been on top of the game and handled it like a pro.
"We really do work to treat everybody the same; and we have a lot of fun while we're at it. We make a great team" Smart said.
Greg Ledford, president of Community First Media, said, "When we saw what Tommy Hicks had done in terms of serving this community, we were very impressed. His sense of professionalism, honest business practices, and concern for everybody affected by his work made us feel we could continue his traditions and put out a good product. Today, 17 years later, we have a track record that speaks for itself."
Rutherford Weekly is distributed into Cleveland and Polk counties in North Carolina and Cherokee and Spartanburg counties in South Carolina, but the main focus is here in Rutherford County.
Stories and photos focus on local people and their community based activities. Non profit groups, churches, charities, colorful characters, interesting businesses and young people can all be found in the pages of the paper. History of local life unfolds in the pages and many readers find it entertaining as well as informative.
Many of the front page and inside stories are written by Jean Gordon and Pat Jobe. Both have won a number of awards from the N.C. Press Association and Jobe has won one award from the N.C. Association of Educators for his writing about schools. He is also the author of six books, the most recent of which is about Hicks with many stories from the old Amazin' Shopper.
"I would brag about being some kind of big deal since I wrote my first Forest City story when I was 14 years old. Unfortunately, Jean has been writing longer and stronger, so what can I say? It's a pleasure to meet with and listen to so many people who live in the county where I was born and grew up," Jobe said. "I love Rutherford County."
Gordon said, "Everyone in Rutherford County has a story and it's been my privilege over the past 49 years to share some of the stories with readers in print media I am fortunate to continue writing and sharing news with our 14,000 Rutherford Weekly readers on a regular basis.
"For the positive comments I hear from people across this county, often on a daily basis, I am grateful. You encourage me."
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