"New" and "Improved" are words often added to old and familiar products, indicating something's been changed to make the item better.
Soon we can add "new" and "improved" to Hometown Pasco, a popular weekly feature for more than six years. Starting Thursday, Hometown Pasco will appear twice weekly in the Pasco Times. Readers will still find the feature in Sunday's paper, but will also find it on a page in the Thursday edition. That's the "new" part — two days of Hometown Pasco every week.
At a time when we struggle with a sick economy, the strain of war and the anxiety of hurricane season, there's comfort in turning to a page that shares news of our friends and neighbors doing good things to help others, achieving new accomplishments or maybe just hitting a milestone birthday. Hometown Pasco has this news.
"I've never been in the newspaper before," is a comment I've heard often over the last six years. That remark is often followed with "I'm going to buy every paper I can find and send them to my relatives!"
That's Hometown news! Posted on refrigerators or clipped for scrapbooks. To most of us, it's important because it's everyday good people, doing positive things, reaching out to those in need or just enjoying a celebration.
Back in 2004, someone had a grand idea to create Hometown Pasco. When offered the opportunity to create the page, I jumped at the chance, admittedly jumping into deep water since newspaper work had changed drastically since my last days of reporting in the early 1970s. For one thing, there were computers now. And for another, I'd never taken a single digital picture. While Hometown Pasco didn't require me to shoot photos, in the early days I found it necessary if a page was to succeed. Motivated, I learned quickly and Hometown was up and running.
Readers were grand encouragers of Hometown and often business owners would chime in with supporting words. Most of all I enjoy the comments I get. One woman wrote that she dashed out for her Sunday paper, and then raced screaming through the house, waking her family to see her picture in Hometown. I loved it when a young military man wrote me from far away and wanted to have his rank advancement picture put in Hometown as a surprise for his parents. An out-of-state attorney sent a picture of his parents' milestone anniversary and said, "I want to honor them."
For the "improved" part of Hometown, readers will now see more news that's of interest throughout our county. Road improvements and scores of new businesses, including a terrific mall in central Pasco, have created easier access and reasons to bring all sides of the county closer together. Residents on the west side often enjoy events in Dade City, Zephyrhills and San Antonio, and readers from those areas often find pleasure in events on the west side. The central part of Pasco gathers people from all areas. So part of the news in Hometown will now be county-wide, although individual news items from specific areas of the county will be still be important to every Hometown page.
Readers have long requested two pages of Hometown per week and I'm thrilled that it's happening. After compiling news for 401 consecutive Sundays, I still enjoy creating Hometown immensely and, as your community news coordinator, I strive to make Hometown what it was created to be — a page for readers to contribute to and enjoy local community news.
E-mail is the best way to send news, but I'm glad to get hard copies of news and photos in the mail, too. Please remember that Hometown news is prepared 7 to 10 days in advance of publication.
Photos, via e-mail, should be in jpeg format as a full size file. Hard copies must be good quality on photograph paper. There is no certain form or length for the news. Just write down the facts, including event, first and last names of all people involved. And in photos of people, each person should be designated for position, such as left to right, unless it is a large group in which a group name may be used.
Please include a telephone number or e-mail contact in case I have questions for you.
I'm waiting to get your news at firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to 11321 U.S. 19, Port Richey, FL 34668.